Minutes of Epi-Chiefs Teleconference Meetings Related to Mefloquine

Remington Nevin filed this request with the Defense Health Agency of the United States of America.
Tracking # 2016-010
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Appeal

Communications

From: Remington Nevin

To Whom It May Concern:

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

Minutes from all "Epi-Chiefs" teleconference meetings hosted by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC) from July 1, 2012 to the date of processing of this request which reference the antimalarial drug mefloquine (also known as Lariam). DoDD 6490.02E, dated February 8, 2012, specifies the Army as Executive Agent for the AFHSC, and according to a Department of the Army document dated November 14, 2014 (available at http://www.oaa.army.mil/FetchFile.ashx?DocID=475), the Secretary of the Army has delegated Executive Agent responsibilities for the AFHSC to the office of the Army Surgeon General.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

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,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: Peterson, John Phillip CIV USARMY MEDCOM HQ (US)

Dr. Nevin,

Information responsive to your request is under the purview the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center and the Defense Health Agency and is therefore referred to them for action and direct response to you.

Respectfully,

Jpp

John P Peterson
Chief, Freedom of Information/
Privacy Act Office
HQ, U.S. Army Medical Command
(W) 210-221-4233

john.p.peterson.civ@mail.mil

From: Remington Nevin

Please confirm receipt of the below, which we were informed has been forwarded to your office. Thank you.

To Whom It May Concern:

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

Minutes from all "Epi-Chiefs" teleconference meetings hosted by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC) from July 1, 2012 to the date of processing of this request which reference the antimalarial drug mefloquine (also known as Lariam). DoDD 6490.02E, dated February 8, 2012, specifies the Army as Executive Agent for the AFHSC, and according to a Department of the Army document dated November 14, 2014 (available at http://www.oaa.army.mil/FetchFile.ashx?DocID=475), the Secretary of the Army has delegated Executive Agent responsibilities for the AFHSC to the office of the Army Surgeon General.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

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,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: Remington Nevin

CC: judith.l.evans8.ctr@mail.mil
Ms. Judith L. Evans
Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center
11800 Tech Road, Suite 220
Silver Spring, MD 20904
Tel: 301-319-3240
Email: usarmy.ncr.medcom-afhs.mbx.media@mail.mil

July 8, 2015

Dear Ms. Evans,

It was good speaking with you today about this FOIA request. As I understand, you have received this request, and AFHSC, reporting to DHA, is the correct agency for this request. I shall look forward to a formal acknowledgement of receipt within the week by email.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

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 June 23, 2015. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: Remington Nevin

CC: dha.ncr.pcl.mbx.foia-requests@mail.mil

Defense Health Agency Freedom of Information Service Center
7700 Arlington Boulevard, Suite 5101
Falls Church, Virginia 22042-5101
Phone: (703) 681-7500
Fax: (703) 681-5138

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

I hereby request the following records: Minutes from all "Epi-Chiefs" teleconference meetings hosted by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC) from July 1, 2012 to the date of processing of this request which reference the antimalarial drug mefloquine (also known as Lariam).

This request was first submitted to the U.S. Army MEDCOM on June 23, 2014, but is being redirected to your office for action. DoDD 6490.02E, dated February 8, 2012, specifies the Army as Executive Agent for the AFHSC, and according to a Department of the Army document dated November 14, 2014 (available at http://www.oaa.army.mil/FetchFile.ashx?DocID=475), the Secretary of the Army has delegated Executive Agent responsibilities for the AFHSC to the office of the Army Surgeon General. However, on June 23, 2015, the Chief, FOIA/Privacy Act Office, U.S. Army MEDCOM, stated in an email that “[i]nformation responsive” to this request “is under the purview of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center and the Defense Health Agency and is therefore referred to them for action and direct response”. Although formally referred by MEDCOM, the request has remained unacknowledged by AFHSC. As described in a public news release (http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/614118/three-organizations-set-to-join-the-defense-health-agency), on August 23, 2015, the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center changed its name to the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch, and now operates under the Defense Health Agency’s Public Health Division within the Healthcare Operations Directorate. The requested documents should now thus be records maintained by and in the control and custody of the DHA.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes. I request a waiver of fees for this request because disclosure of the requested information to me is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the DoD and of the AFHSC. For the purposes of your determining my eligibility for a waiver and my status for the purposes of assessing fees, please note that these documents will be used to support publishable academic research evaluating the health surveillance activities of the U.S. military. The requested documents will also be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, and the request is not being made for commercial usage.
In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be willing to pay up to $100 without prior notice. If you anticipate the charges will exceed this amount, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request be 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,

Dr. Remington Nevin

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 June 23, 2015. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thanks for your help, and let me know if further clarification is needed.

From: DHA NCR PCL Mailbox FOIA Requests

Dr. Nevin,

Attached is the FOIA Acknowledgement Letter for your review.

v/r,
Angela McDowell
Senior Analyst, Axiom Contract Support
DHA Privacy and Civil Liberties Office
Main: 703-681-7500

From: DHA NCR PCL Mailbox FOIA Requests

Dr. Nevin,

We have received your follow-up inquiry and researched the status. The estimated completion date for your request is February 15, 2016. Please be advised that this date is merely an estimate and your request may be processed sooner or later than indicated. Additionally, the complexity of backlogged cases in our queue, which were received prior to your request, may affect timely processing of your request.

Please be assured that we are working as quickly as possible to research and deliver the responsive records (if any), that you have requested.

v/r,
Angela McDowell
Senior Analyst, Axiom Contract Support
DHA Privacy and Civil Liberties Office
Main: 703-275-6363

From: DHA NCR PCL Mailbox FOIA Requests

Good Morning,

Please see the attached documents regarding your FOIA request.

Thank you
Jessie Ludin
Junior Analyst, Axiom Contract Support
Defense Health Headquarters
DHA Privacy and Civil Liberties Office
7700 Arlington Boulevard, Suite 5101
Falls Church, VA 22042
Main: 703-275-6363

From: Remington Nevin

Defense Health Agency Office of General Counsel
National Capital Region Medical Directorate
Attn: Mr. Paul T. Cygnarowicz
8901 Wisconsin Avenue (Building 27)
Bethesda, MD 20889

Dear Office of the General Counsel,

Re: Denial of Defense Health Agency Control Number 2016-010 (FOIA)

This is an appeal under the Freedom of Information Act.
I hereby appeal the denial of records responsive to my request for “Minutes from all ‘Epi-Chiefs’ teleconference meetings hosted by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC) from July 1, 2012 to the date of processing of this request which reference the antimalarial drug mefloquine (also known as Lariam)” on the basis that the records being requested are not exempt from disclosure pursuant to FOIA exemption (b)(5) due to their not being internal records that are deliberative in nature and part of the decision-making process, containing opinions and recommendations.

1. Background.

As can be verified at the public website MuckRock (see https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/minutes-of-epi-chiefs-teleconference-meetings-related-to-mefloquine-19001/), this request was first submitted to Defence Health Agency (DHA) on August 25, 2015. In a letter dated October 8, 2015 (https://d3gn0r3afghep.cloudfront.net/foia_files/2015/10/09/2016-010-Nevin-19001_Acknowledgement_Signed.pdf), this request was acknowledged and assigned DHA Control Number #2016-010 (FOIA). In correspondence dated January 12, 2016 (https://d3gn0r3afghep.cloudfront.net/foia_files/2016/02/10/LTR_-_Denied-in-Full__2016-010_Signed.pdf), DHA denied this request in full, without release of any responsive documents, stating that “[u]nder Exemption (b)(5): the responsive documents are exempt from disclosure pursuant to FOIA exemption (b)(5) due to being internal records that are deliberative in nature and part of the decision-making process, containing opinions and recommendations”.

2. Requested Records.

According to the AFHSB website (https://www.afhsc.mil/Home/Sections/GEIS), the AFHSB (previously known as AFHSC) includes a section known as the Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System (GEIS). According to the website, “AFHSB-GEIS provides direction, funding and oversight to a network of more than 70 partners based in all regions of the world. Working in conjunction with their host nations, these partners conduct disease surveillance and rapid outbreak response, encourage research and innovation, and build capacity”. According to information published by GEIS staff in the peer-reviewed publication “International Health Regulations (2005) and the U.S. Department of Defense: building core capacities on a foundation of partnership and trust” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3005576/pdf/1471-2458-10-S1-S4.pdf), “Communication and central coordination remains a primary role of AFHSC and involves a substantial amount of effort from all divisions and areas, including GEIS.... AFHSC-GEIS partners are highly encouraged to create program-specific reports that are accurate, timely, concise, openly available, and provide meaningful public health interpretation of the findings…. In addition to timely reporting, partners are required to participate and communicate their recent findings through network calls and a bi-monthly teleconference called Epi Chiefs. This provides a forum for reporting the latest outbreak activity and interesting findings from all regions of the global network. It also allows program management staff to communicate outward of notable changes in trends in specific regions or areas of concern”.

As clearly described in an earlier GEIS annual report (http:// handle.dtic.mil/100.2/ADA503209), “The proceedings of the epi-chiefs are transcribed; transcriptions and summaries, sent to participants, were reviewed and are available for review by others with a need. A short summary of hightlights of the meeting is sent promptly to participants and the leadership”.

3. Basis for Appeal

As clearly described in the above information, the “Epi-Chiefs” teleconferences are international, multi-agency meetings, intended to provide for broad communication and broad subsequent dissemination of information to those “with a need”. Information at “Epi-Chiefs” teleconferences are therefore frequently shared outside of AFHSB and outside of DHA for broad distribution, and are not “internal records that are deliberative in nature and part of the decision-making process, containing opinions and recommendations”.

My request was not for a full transcript of meetings at which mefloquine was discussed, but only for “Minutes from all ‘Epi-Chiefs’ teleconference meetings hosted by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC) from July 1, 2012 to the date of processing of this request which reference the antimalarial drug mefloquine (also known as Lariam)”.

The requested records are specifically, particularly, and reasonably described and exist in the control of the agency. Agency control of these records is demonstrated by the agency citing the existence of these minutes (or “summaries”) in their annual report. The request is “reasonably described”, in that staff members at the agency are able “determine precisely what records are being requested” in response to my request . Furthermore, the request is also very specifically and particularly described, in that the request specifies particular and specific minutes responsive to this request (i.e. those that reference mefloquine). Furthermore, the request is also specified with sufficient specificity and particularity to permit “a professional employee of the agency who [is] familiar with the subject area of the request to locate the record with a reasonable amount of effort”.

In summary, I appeal the rejection of my request on the basis that the responsive records are not subject to withholding under the FOIA for the reasons stated by the agency.

I thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: Remington Nevin

Defense Health Agency Office of General Counsel
National Capital Region Medical Directorate
Attn: Mr. Paul T. Cygnarowicz
8901 Wisconsin Avenue (Building 27)
Bethesda, MD 20889

Dear Office of the General Counsel,

Re: Denial of Defense Health Agency Control Number 2016-010 (FOIA)

Please acknowledge receipt of my appeal of the denial referenced above, which I sent to your office February 19, 2016. The denial I received from DHA was dated February 10, 2016.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: Remington Nevin

Defense Health Agency Office of General Counsel
National Capital Region Medical Directorate
Attn: Mr. Paul T. Cygnarowicz
8901 Wisconsin Avenue (Building 27)
Bethesda, MD 20889

Dear Office of the General Counsel,

Re: Denial of Defense Health Agency Control Number 2016-010 (FOIA)

Please acknowledge receipt of my appeal of the denial referenced above, which I sent to your office February 19, 2016. The denial I received from DHA was dated February 10, 2016.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: Defense Health Agency

A letter stating that the request appeal has been rejected.

From: Remington Nevin

Defense Health Agency Office of General Counsel
National Capital Region Medical Directorate
Attn: Mr. Paul T. Cygnarowicz
8955 Wood Road, Building 1, Floor 9
Bethesda, MD 20889-5628

Re: Denial of Defense Health Agency Control Number 2016-010 (FOIA)

Dear Mr. Cygnarowicz,

Thank you for your letter dated July 28, 2016, in which you acknowledge receipt of my appeal dated February 19, 2016, related to the denial of DHA 2016-010.

In your letter, it is stated that you first received this appeal on February 19, 2016, and then again on June 1, 2016.

It is my understanding that my appeal remains under review.

Please advise me at your earliest convenience as to any change in the status of your review and whether any further clarification of the basis for my appeal is needed.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: Remington Nevin

Defense Health Agency Office of General Counsel
National Capital Region Medical Directorate
Attn: Mr. Paul T. Cygnarowicz
8955 Wood Road, Building 1, Floor 9
Bethesda, MD 20889-5628
Re: Denial of Defense Health Agency Control Number 2016-010 (FOIA)
Dear Mr. Cygnarowicz,

I am in receipt of your letter dated July 28, 2016, in which you acknowledge receipt of my appeal dated February 19, 2016, related to the denial of DHA 2016-010.

In your letter, it is stated that you first received this appeal on February 19, 2016, and then again on June 1, 2016.

It is my understanding that my appeal remains under review.

Please advise me at your earliest convenience as to any change in the status of your review and whether any further clarification of the basis for my appeal is needed.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: Remington Nevin

Defense Health Agency Office of General Counsel
National Capital Region Medical Directorate
Attn: Mr. Paul T. Cygnarowicz
8955 Wood Road, Building 1, Floor 9
Bethesda, MD 20889-5628
Re: Denial of Defense Health Agency Control Number 2016-010 (FOIA)
Dear Mr. Cygnarowicz,

I am in receipt of your letter dated July 28, 2016, in which you acknowledge receipt of my appeal dated February 19, 2016, related to the denial of DHA 2016-010.

In your letter, it is stated that you first received this appeal on February 19, 2016, and then again on June 1, 2016.

It is my understanding that my appeal remains under review.

Please advise me at your earliest convenience as to any change in the status of your review and whether any further clarification of the basis for my appeal is needed.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: Remington Nevin

Defense Health Agency Office of General Counsel
National Capital Region Medical Directorate
Attn: Mr. Paul T. Cygnarowicz
8955 Wood Road, Building 1, Floor 9
Bethesda, MD 20889-5628
Re: Denial of Defense Health Agency Control Number 2016-010 (FOIA)
Dear Mr. Cygnarowicz,

I am in receipt of your letter dated July 28, 2016, in which you acknowledge receipt of my appeal dated February 19, 2016, related to the denial of DHA 2016-010.

In your letter, it is stated that you first received this appeal on February 19, 2016, and then again on June 1, 2016.

It is my understanding that my appeal remains under review.

Please advise me at your earliest convenience as to any change in the status of your review and whether any further clarification of the basis for my appeal is needed.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

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