FY2013 FOIA Log (Air Force, Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency)

Jason Smathers filed this request with the Air Force, 25th Air Force of the United States of America.
Tracking # 2013-00478-F
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Jason Smathers

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

A log of all FOIA requests made in fiscal year 2013.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Jason Smathers

From: AF ISR Agency FOIA Manager

Mr. Smathers,

This email is in reference to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, case number 2014-00478-F; "A log of all FOIA requests made in fiscal year 2013."

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, the requester must confirm a willingness to pay for accessible search, review and duplicating costs. Your request for a fee waiver was denied. You are considered to be in the "commercial" category and will be charged all fees (search, review, and duplication). Our office estimates the cost of your FOIA request to be $44.60. The fee was calculated in the following manner:

.5 hr x 44.00 for Professional Level Search = $22.00

.5 hr x 44.00 for Professional Review/Excising = $22.00

4 page(s) x .15 for Duplicating costs = $0.60

From: Jason Smathers

I have no commercial interests in making this request. This is a record that countless agencies post publicly on their website and I find your attempt to avoid producing it troubling. I am in hopes that you will contact the FOIA Liaison or OSD for guidance on your choice of fee category and reconsider.

Please let me know if you are willing to process this request in either the news media or other requester fee categories, both of which will result in this simple request being free.

Further, I take exception to your assertion that it will take 30 minutes to search for the FOIA log. This is a file that the FOIA office uses on a daily basis and cannot take more than a minute to open it on your computer.

We are discussing 4 pages of records for non-commercial use. Your actions are clearly in violation of the President's executive order requiring you to "adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure" and to " take affirmative steps to make information public."

Please let me know if you will be providing this FOIA log to me without a demand for illegal fees or if you would prefer I file an administrative appeal, then a lawsuit after the typical 20 days of non-responsiveness to appeals.

From: Air Force, Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency

An acknowledgement letter, stating the request is being processed.

From: AF ISR Agency FOIA Manager

Mr. Smathers,

This email is in reference to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, case number 2014-00478-F; “A log of all FOIA requests made in fiscal year 2013."

After consulting with FOIA Liaison office, they stated that your organization is to be assessed as a "Commercial" requester.

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, the requester must confirm a willingness to pay for accessible search, review and duplicating costs. Our office estimates the cost of your FOIA request to be $22.60. The fee was calculated in the following manner:

3 mins x 44.00 for Professional Level Search = fee waived

.5 hr x 44.00 for Professional Review/Excising = $22.00

4 page(s) x .15 for Duplicating costs = $0.60

Total = $22.60

However, when the request is finalized, the fees may be more or less than this estimate. Do not forward a payment with your willingness to pay. From the date of this e-mail, we will take no further action on your request until receipt of your written agreement to pay.

Please keep in mind that the total number of releasable responsive documents will depend on our staff judge advocate final review/recommendation of responsive documents approved for release.

If we do not receive your reply by November 12, 2013, we will close this case file and you will need to initiate a new FOIA request for the records desired.

V/R

Mark Ybarra

AFISRA FOIA Program Manager

HQ AF ISR Agency/A6OD

210-977-4566

AFISRA.FOIA@us.af.mil

From: Jason Smathers

Mr. Mark Ybarra,

I wish to make the role of MuckRock and my relationship with them clear.

MuckRock is an investigative tools website which, according to their website, "serves journalists, researchers, activists and historians." I am a user of this website. I personally entered this FOIA request into a form on the MuckRock website. In turn, the MuckRock system routes my request to your email and creates a special email account just for this request, which is how we have been communicating. Further, since I prefer digital records, instead of having to scan records myself, in the case where an agency refuses to send a digital copy of the request, you can mail the records to my attention at the MuckRock office and the records will be scanned and uploaded to the website for me so I do not need to scan them myself. Most importantly, MuckRock works as a tracking system keeping track of all correspondence concerning a request. When working with many FOIA requests, a tracking system is very helpful. Consider your own office. I suspect that you track the many FOIA requests that come to you using an internal website or database system - or at a minimum, I would expect you to have an excel spreadsheet keeping track of received dates, current status, etc. Likewise, I need the same tools to keep track of what requests I have made, the current status, reminders, methods to match up records received in response to FOIA requests with the request that was made, etc. MuckRock provides these tools to me. According to the phone conversation I had concerning this request today, your office misunderstands the nature of MuckRock which was described to me as an agency which sells the information obtained via FOIA, which is not true. MuckRock offers free accounts, so you can try it yourself with no charge. Since I have not designated this request as private, you can actually see exactly how I am using MuckRock for this request by visiting this website where our communication is published: https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/fy2013-foia-log-air-force-intelligence-surveillance-and-reconnaissance-agency-8569/#comm-48857

The bottom line is, I am an individual user of MuckRock. I am communicating directly with you. I am not making any profit off this FOIA request. I am not selling the results and nobody has paid me to make this request for them. The request is being made through MuckRock so that I can take advantage of their professional tools. My use of MuckRock is analogous to other FOIA requester's use of Microsoft Office to track their requests. Simply because I chose the more advanced tool, MuckRock, is no reason to treat me as a commercial requester any more than you would consider a Microsoft Office user a commercial requester because they bought a product to send you emails (MS Outlook) and to track requests (MS Excel) and to type you letters (MS Word).

Based on this information, I request that you process this request using the "other" fee category. I am confident that ultimately the courts would uphold my position, but in respect for the time of first your appeals officers, then the court system, I wanted to reason with you and make sure you were aware of the exact nature of MuckRock and my relationship with them.

Please let me know your decision.

Thank you.

Regards,
Jason Smathers

From: AF ISR Agency FOIA Manager

Mr. Smathers,

After confirming with FOIA Liaison office, MuckRock is considered "Commercial" category accordingly because they charge fees to corporations and
requesters for FOIA requests that they obtain from FOIA offices.

If you would like to continue your FOIA request utilizing MuckRock, you will be assessed fees in the "commercial" category for processing you current FOIA request.

However, if you would like your current request to processed in the "other" category, you will have to submit a new FOIA request with your complete personal physical address, willingness to pay fees (minimum of $15.00), and a reasonable description of the desired records.

Please advice this office how you would like to proceed.

If we do not receive your reply by November 12, 2013, we will close this case file and you will need to initiate a new FOIA request for the records desired.

V/R
Mark Ybarra
AFISRA FOIA Program Manager
HQ AF ISR Agency/A6OD
210-977-4566
AFISRA.FOIA@us.af.mil

From: Jason Smathers

I appeal being billed as a commercial requester. I make FOIA requests in various capacities which fall into either media or "all other" categories, however, I have never filed a single FOIA as a commercial requester. For the purposes of this FOIA request, the "all other" fee category is appropriate. I have no commercial interest in this request. I am not selling the information or engaging in any commercial activity using the data. For the reasons stated here and in the administrative record thus far, and all other reasons deemed appropriate by the appeals authority, I appeal.

From: Jason Smathers

Please confirm you have received my appeal dated 11/8/2013 and inform me of the expected date in which you will be able to respond to it.

Thank you.

From: AF ISR Agency FOIA Manager

Mr. Smathers,

FOIA Request #2014-00478-F has not been officially closed. If you would like to close the case, please advice. Once the FOIA request has been closed, you can the appeal decision through the appeal process that is initiated through the FOIA Liaison office following the below mandatory guidelines:

If you decide to appeal, you may write to the Secretary of the Air Force within 60 calendar days from the date of the memorandum when case is officially closed. Please include your reasons for reconsideration, and attach a copy of the memorandum that you will receive from this office for the appeal process. Address your letter as follows:

Secretary of the Air Force
THRU: HQ AF ISR Agency/A6OD (FOIA)
102 Hall Blvd Ste 246
San Antonio TX 78243

V/R
Mark Ybarra
AFISRA FOIA Program Manager
HQ AF ISR Agency/A6OD
210-977-4566
AFISRA.FOIA@us.af.mil

From: Jason Smathers

I disagree with the commercial fee category. If you are not overturning that decision, please grant me appeal rights.

From: Air Force, Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency

A fix is required to perfect the requesfix is required to perfect the request.

From: Jason Smathers

Hello,

Please find attached an official appeal of FOIA Request #2014-00478-F. A hard copy has been sent by mail to the Secretary of the Air Force FOIA office. Please confirm receipt of both the electronic and hard copies.

Thank you.

From: AF ISR Agency FOIA Manager

Mr. Smathers,

Our office acknowledges receipt of electronic copy of your appeal of FOIA Request #2014-00478-F.

V/R
Mark Ybarra
AFISRA FOIA Manager
HQ AF ISR Agency/A6OD
210-977-4566
AFISRA.FOIA@us.af.mil

From: AF ISR Agency FOIA Manager

Dear Mr. Smathers,

This is in reference to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request #2014-00478-F; "A log of all FOIA requests made in fiscal year 2013."

Upon an additional review, our office has determined the amount of time required to process the request is minimal and will not be assessed fees in this instance. With your permission, our office can release the responsive document. We will withhold any privacy information using FOIA exemption (b)(6).

As a reminder, Air Force JAA and the Air Force Policy Office has determined that any requests originating from Muckrock are still considered to be in the "commercial" fee category.

For future reference: If you would like to be placed in the "all others" fee category, any future FOIA submissions require an email and postal mailing address that is not associated with Muckrock. The "all others" fee category entitles you to the first two (2) hours of search time and the first one hundred (100) pages free of charge.

Please contact me if you have questions concerning your request at (210) 977-4566. Thank you.

V/R
Mark Ybarra
AFISRA FOIA Manager
HQ AF ISR Agency/A6OD
210-977-4566
AFISRA.FOIA@us.af.mil

From: AF ISR Agency FOIA Manager

AF ISR Agency FOIA Manager would like to recall the message, "Freedom of Information Request #2014-00478-F".

From: AF ISR Agency FOIA Manager

Dear Mr. Smathers,

This is in reference to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request #2014-00478-F; "A log of all FOIA requests made in fiscal year 2013."

Upon an additional review, our office has determined the amount of time required to process the request is minimal and will not be assessed fees in this instance. With your permission, our office can release the responsive document. We will withhold any privacy information using FOIA exemption (b)(6).

As a reminder, Air Force JAA and the Air Force FOIA Policy Office has determined that any requests originating from Muckrock are still considered to be in the "commercial" fee category.

For future reference: If you would like to be placed in the "all others" fee category, any future FOIA submissions require an email and postal mailing address that is not associated with Muckrock. The "all others" fee category entitles you to the first two (2) hours of search time and the first one hundred (100) pages free of charge.

Please contact me if you have questions concerning your request at (210) 977-4566. Thank you.

NOTE: Please disregard previous email with same subject sent on Mon 12/9/2013. There was an error. Apologize for the inconvenience.

V/R

Mark Ybarra

AFISRA FOIA Manager

HQ AF ISR Agency/A6OD

210-977-4566

AFISRA.FOIA@us.af.mil

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 21, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #2014-00478-F.

Thank you for your help.

From: Air Force, Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency

A cover letter granting the request and outlining any exempted materials, if any.

From: Air Force, Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

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