Orbital Sciences Corporation launch license for Minotaur (FAA)

Jason Smathers filed this request with the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States of America.
Tracking # 2014-3382R
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 copy of all correspondence between the FAA and Orbital Sciences Corporation concerning Active Launch License LLO 13-083 for vehicle "Minotaur" issued by Office of Commercial Space Transportation including their application, informal inquiries, and all other correspondence concerning obtaining this license.

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: 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 Jan. 18, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: Federal Aviation Administration

An acknowledgement letter, stating the request is being processed.

From: Federal Aviation Administration

A part set of responsive documents from the agency.

From: Federal Aviation Administration

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

From: Jason Smathers

FOIA APPEAL

Assistant Administrator for Regions and Center Operations
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20591

Re: FOIA Request Number 2014-3382

Assistant Administrator for Regions and Center Operations:

This is an appeal under the Freedom of Information Act.

On January 18, 2014, I requested the following records from the FAA:
A copy of all correspondence between the FAA and Orbital Sciences Corporation concerning Active Launch License LLO 13-083 for vehicle "Minotaur" issued by Office of Commercial Space Transportation including their application, informal inquiries, and all other correspondence concerning obtaining this license.

In a letter dated March 18, 2014, Dr. George C. Nield denied this request citing exemption 3 of the FOIA. However, Dr. Nield failed to cite any underlying statue that would allow for the withholding of information. Rather, Dr. Nield cited 51 USC §50916 and 14 CFR §413.9. However, this statue and regulation do not create any new exemptions from disclosure. Rather, this is a permissive statement allowing disclosure of information “that qualifies for an exemption under section 552 (b)(4) of title 5 or is designated as confidential by the person or head of the executive agency providing the information” in cases where “withholding the information is contrary to the public or national interest.”

In Reporters Comm., 816 F.2d at 735 the court ruled “a statute that is claimed to qualify as an Exemption 3 withholding statute must, on its face, exempt matters from disclosure. We must find a congressional purpose to exempt matters from disclosure in the actual words of the statute (or at least in the legislative history of FOIA . . .) -- not in the legislative history of the claimed withholding statute, nor in an agency's interpretation of the statute.” No such statue has been cited.

Further, not all statues exempting disclosure are relevant to requests under the Freedom of Information Act. Rather, they only apply if the statute either "(A) requires that the matters be withheld from the public in such a manner as to leave no discretion on the issue, or (B) establishes particular criteria for withholding or refers to particular types of matters to be withheld." (5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(3) (2000))

Finally, it is unreasonable to assume that all responsive records are exempt in their entirety from disclosure even if they contain some exempt information. There is not a presumption of privacy when communicating with the US Government. Please release the initially requested records.

For the reasons herein and all others deemed appropriate by the appeals authority, I hereby appeal.

Regards,
Jason Smathers

From: Federal Aviation Administration

A letter stating that the request appeal has been received and is being processed.

From: Federal Aviation Administration

A letter stating that the request appeal has been succesful.

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 Jan. 18, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #2014-003382R.

Thank you for your help.

From:

Our office is actively working on the above request. In the past few weeks we have discovered responsive documents from Orbital Sciences, Inc. AST is in process of having the submitter review these documents and provide our office with authorization to release or sufficient justification for denying their release to you. This will take possibly another 15 days. Thank you very much for your inquiry.
Christina M. Vernon
Administrative Branch Manager, AST-3
Office of Commercial Space Transportation
Tel. 202-267-8413
Cell 202-604-6499
Fax 202-267-5450

“Whatever your discipline, become a student of excellence in all things."
-- Tony Buzan and Michael Gelb, authors

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 Jan. 18, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #2014-003382R.

Thank you for your help.

From:

Mr. Smathers;

I received your e-mail request for an update on your Freedom of Information request.

I have become your Freedom of Information Point of Contact and I wanted to provide you an update on where your request stands.

Since your last update on July 9th, Orbital Sciences has completed their review of our responsive documents and provided the results of that effort. We have reviewed and assessed their review and prepared a draft response which is now being coordinated with the required Freedom of Information offices within the FAA. I can't give you a precise date the package will be forwarded to you. However, since it is in the final stage of review and clearing it shouldn't be too much longer. In the interim, please feel free to contact me either by e-mail, or at the phone numbers I have provided below.

Mike

MICHAEL J. McELLIGOTT
Office of Commercial Space Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Avenue SW, Suite 325
Washington D. C. 20591
Phone: 202.267.7859
Cell: 202.460.6009

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 Jan. 18, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #2014-003382R.

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

From:

Mr Smathers;

Good Morning.

I completed the work and submitted our response to your inquiry to the FAA’s Freedom Of Information Office in August. They are working the response but I cannot tell you where you request is in their process.

MICHAEL J. McELLIGOTT
Office of Commercial Space Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Avenue SW, Suite 325
Washington D. C. 20591
Phone: 202.267.7859
Cell: 202.460.6009

From: Federal Aviation Administration

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

From: Federal Aviation Administration

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

From:

Mr Smathers;

The response to your request under the Freedom Of Information Act 2014-003382R was signed on the 8th of December.

I sent it to you via US Mail earlier this morning.

MICHAEL J. McELLIGOTT
Office of Commercial Space Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Avenue SW, Suite 325
Washington D. C. 20591
Phone: 202.267.7859
Cell: 202.460.6009

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