"OTR"mail 17-2-1 - 17-2-17 (Department of Agriculture)

Emma Best filed this request with the Department of Agriculture of the United States of America.
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Michael Best

To Whom It May Concern:

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

All emails sent from employees of the Press/Public Affairs Office to a non-U.S. government email address from February 1, 2017 through February 17, 2017 which include the phrase "off the record", "off-the-record", "OTR", "attribute", "attribution", "attributed" or "background". If, by the time this search is conducted, such emails have been routinely destroyed, the scope of this request is instead for all emails meeting the above criteria (except for the date range) created in the three weeks prior to the start of your search.

I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I have previously written about the government and its activities for AND Magazine, MuckRock and Glomar Disclosure and have an open arrangement with each. My articles have been widely read, with some reaching over 100,000 readers. As such, as I have a reasonable expectation of publication and my editorial and writing skills are well established. In addition, I discuss and comment on the files online and make them available through the non-profit Internet Archive, disseminating them to a large audience. While my research is not limited to this, a great deal of it, including this, focuses on the activities and attitudes of the government itself. As such, it is not necessary for me to demonstrate the relevance of this particular subject in advance. Additionally, case law states that “proof of the ability to disseminate the released information to a broad cross-section of the public is not required.” Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Dep’t of Justice, 365 F.3d 1108, 1126 (D.C. Cir. 2004); see Carney v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 19 F.3d 807, 814-15 (2d Cir. 1994). Further, courts have held that "qualified because it also had “firm” plans to “publish a number of . . . ‘document sets’” concerning United States foreign and national security policy." Under this criteria, as well, I qualify as a member of the news media. Additionally, courts have held that the news media status "focuses on the nature of the requester, not its request. The provision requires that the request be “made by” a representative of the news media. Id. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II). A newspaper reporter, for example, is a representative of the news media regardless of how much interest there is in the story for which he or she is requesting information." As such, the details of the request itself are moot for the purposes of determining the appropriate fee category. As such, my primary purpose is to inform about government activities by reporting on it and making the raw data available and I therefore request that fees be waived.

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 there are fees, 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,

Michael Best

From: USDAFOIA - OCIO

Good morning, Mr. Best.

This e-mail acknowledges receipt of the February 21, 2017, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request you submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department FOIA Office (DFO). Your request was received in the DFO on February 21st.

The DFO is under the purview of the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) and serves as the focal point for USDA’s FOIA program. The DFO provides coordination and ensures agency-wide compliance with the FOIA. Additionally, the DFO processes requests and appeals on behalf of the Office of the Secretary and Departmental Management’s (“DM”) components. For a complete listing of DM’s components, please visit http://www.dm.usda.gov/agencies.htm.

The FOIA, 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i), requires USDA to make a determination in response to a FOIA request within 20 business days from its date of receipt. In unusual circumstances, the Federal agency time limit may be extended by 10 business days as stated in 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(B). If your request seeks numerous documents that will necessitate a wide-ranging search, including searches with components and possible consultations with components that have a substantial interest in the determination of this request, USDA will invoke a 10 business day extension for determination of your request. You have the option to narrow the scope of your request to limit the number of potentially responsive documents.

Provisions of the FOIA allow USDA to recover part of the cost of complying with your request. For purposes of fee assessment, you are categorized as a news media requester, pursuant to 7 CFR Appendix A to Subpart A of Part 1 Section (5)(c). For your review and information, a copy of the USDA FOIA Fee Schedule is enclosed. In accordance with 7 CFR Appendix A to Subpart A of Part 1 Section 6(a)(4), your fees shall be waived where the amount of the fee is $25.00 or less. You will be contacted before any fees over $25.00 are accrued.

A search will be conducted for records responsive to your request. If any responsive records are located, they will be reviewed for determination of releasability. Please be assured that a FOIA Analyst in this office will respond to your request as expeditiously as possible. We appreciate your patience as we proceed with your request.

Your request has been assigned FOIA Case No. 2017-OSEC-02306-F. Please refer to this case number in any future correspondence. If you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact Ms. Cheryl Kluwe at (202) 694-5982, or electronically at Cheryl.Kluwe@ocio.usda.gov or USDAFOIA@ocio.usda.gov. For additional information regarding USDA FOIA regulations and processes, please refer to the information available on-line at www.dm.usda.gov/foia.

The DFO Team appreciates the opportunity to assist you in this matter.

From: Kluwe, Cheryl - OCIO

Good morning, Mr. Best.

I apologize for the unexpected delay in processing your request. It is our intention to issue a response by the end of this week.

Regards,

Cheryl D. Kluwe, Esq.
Senior FOIA Analyst (Contractor)
United States Department of Agriculture
Department FOIA Office
Office of the Chief Information Officer
Patriot Plaza III, 355 E Street, SW, 10-126D
Washington DC 20024
Telephone: (202) 694-5982
Email: Cheryl.Kluwe@ocio.usda.gov<mailto:Patricia.Weth@ocio.usda.gov>

Stay Connected with USDA:
[cid:image001.png@01CF32FA.E736E120]<http://www.usda.gov/>[cid:image002.png@01CF32FA.E736E120]<http://blogs.usda.gov/> [cid:image003.png@01CF32FA.E736E120] <http://www.facebook.com/usda/> [cid:image004.png@01CF32FA.E736E120] <http://www.twitter.com/usda/> [cid:image005.png@01CF32FA.E736E120] <http://www.youtube.com/usda/> [cid:image006.png@01CF32FA.E736E120] <https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDAOC/subscriber/new> [cid:image007.png@01CF32FA.E736E120] <http://flickr.com/usdagov>

You may now submit FOIA request(s) online to any USDA FOIA office using the USDA online web portal, Public Access Link (PAL). You may access PAL at https://efoia-pal.usda.gov/palMain.aspx. After you register and establish your password you will be able to (1) submit, (2) check the status of your FOIA request(s), and (3) download our responses to your FOIA request(s).

From: Kluwe, Cheryl - OCIO

Good morning Mr. Best,

Let me start off by apologizing for the delay in processing your request. We've been experiencing an unusually high volume of incoming requests and truly appreciate the patience of our requesters as we work to close out our outstanding items.

We are nearly done with processing your request for emails sent by the 'Press Office' containing one or more of terms you provided. I'd like to speak with you about the scope of our search. Please contact me at the number below at your convenience, or provide a number where you can be reached. Thank you.

Regards,

Cheryl D. Kluwe, Esq.
Senior FOIA Analyst (Contractor)
United States Department of Agriculture
Department FOIA Office
Office of the Chief Information Officer
Patriot Plaza III, 355 E Street, SW, 10-126D
Washington DC 20024
Telephone: (202) 694-5982
Email: Cheryl.Kluwe@ocio.usda.gov<mailto:Patricia.Weth@ocio.usda.gov>

Stay Connected with USDA:
[cid:image001.png@01CF32FA.E736E120]<http://www.usda.gov/>[cid:image002.png@01CF32FA.E736E120]<http://blogs.usda.gov/> [cid:image003.png@01CF32FA.E736E120] <http://www.facebook.com/usda/> [cid:image004.png@01CF32FA.E736E120] <http://www.twitter.com/usda/> [cid:image005.png@01CF32FA.E736E120] <http://www.youtube.com/usda/> [cid:image006.png@01CF32FA.E736E120] <https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDAOC/subscriber/new> [cid:image007.png@01CF32FA.E736E120] <http://flickr.com/usdagov>

You may now submit FOIA request(s) online to any USDA FOIA office using the USDA online web portal, Public Access Link (PAL). You may access PAL at https://efoia-pal.usda.gov/palMain.aspx. After you register and establish your password you will be able to (1) submit, (2) check the status of your FOIA request(s), and (3) download our responses to your FOIA request(s).

This electronic message contains information generated by the USDA solely for the intended recipients. Any unauthorized interception of this message or the use or disclosure of the information it contains may violate the law and subject the violator to civil or criminal penalties. If you believe you have received this message in error, please notify the sender and delete the email immediately.

From: Michael Best

I prefer to communicate solely by email. If you have questions or concerns about the scope, I'm happy to hear them and see what I can do to address them.

From: Kluwe, Cheryl - OCIO

Mr. Best,

It’s no problem to discuss your request via email. I don’t have any questions about the scope of your request.

I simply wanted to convey that our agency is decentralized, and while in this instance I was able to search all Office of Communications email addresses (oc.usda.gov) for responsive records, many of USDA’s components have their own communications teams. If you’d like to see emails they sent to members of the press or other individuals outside of government, you’ll need to submit requests to the individual component or components that may maintain records of interest to you.

Regards,

Cheryl D. Kluwe, Esq.
Senior FOIA Analyst (Contractor)
United States Department of Agriculture
Department FOIA Office
Office of the Chief Information Officer
Patriot Plaza III, 355 E Street, SW, 10-126D
Washington DC 20024
Telephone: (202) 694-5982
Email: Cheryl.Kluwe@ocio.usda.gov<mailto:Patricia.Weth@ocio.usda.gov>

Stay Connected with USDA:
[cid:image001.png@01CF32FA.E736E120]<http://www.usda.gov/>[cid:image002.png@01CF32FA.E736E120]<http://blogs.usda.gov/> [cid:image003.png@01CF32FA.E736E120] <http://www.facebook.com/usda/> [cid:image004.png@01CF32FA.E736E120] <http://www.twitter.com/usda/> [cid:image005.png@01CF32FA.E736E120] <http://www.youtube.com/usda/> [cid:image006.png@01CF32FA.E736E120] <https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDAOC/subscriber/new> [cid:image007.png@01CF32FA.E736E120] <http://flickr.com/usdagov>

You may now submit FOIA request(s) online to any USDA FOIA office using the USDA online web portal, Public Access Link (PAL). You may access PAL at https://efoia-pal.usda.gov/palMain.aspx. After you register and establish your password you will be able to (1) submit, (2) check the status of your FOIA request(s), and (3) download our responses to your FOIA request(s).

From: Michael Best

Thanks for clarifying! That makes sense about the different components. I think that for my purposes, the search you performed will be more than adequate but I'll keep that in mind.

I really appreciate you being clear about the scope of the request as its being performed. While it's not making a difference this time, in many other instances it might have. Thank you so much for being on top of this and communicative.

Michael

From: Kluwe, Cheryl - OCIO

Good afternoon Mr. Best,

The USDA Department FOIA Office has fulfilled your request for records. Our final response and the responsive records are attached to this message.

Thank you for your patience during this process.

Regards,
Cheryl

Cheryl D. Kluwe, Esq.
Senior FOIA Analyst (Contractor)
United States Department of Agriculture
Department FOIA Office
Office of the Chief Information Officer
Patriot Plaza III, 355 E Street, SW, 10-126D
Washington DC 20024
Telephone: (202) 694-5982
Email: Cheryl.Kluwe@ocio.usda.gov<mailto:Patricia.Weth@ocio.usda.gov>

Stay Connected with USDA:
[cid:image001.png@01CF32FA.E736E120]<http://www.usda.gov/>[cid:image002.png@01CF32FA.E736E120]<http://blogs.usda.gov/> [cid:image003.png@01CF32FA.E736E120] <http://www.facebook.com/usda/> [cid:image004.png@01CF32FA.E736E120] <http://www.twitter.com/usda/> [cid:image005.png@01CF32FA.E736E120] <http://www.youtube.com/usda/> [cid:image006.png@01CF32FA.E736E120] <https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDAOC/subscriber/new> [cid:image007.png@01CF32FA.E736E120] <http://flickr.com/usdagov>

You may now submit FOIA request(s) online to any USDA FOIA office using the USDA online web portal, Public Access Link (PAL). You may access PAL at https://efoia-pal.usda.gov/palMain.aspx. After you register and establish your password you will be able to (1) submit, (2) check the status of your FOIA request(s), and (3) download our responses to your FOIA request(s).

This electronic message contains information generated by the USDA solely for the intended recipients. Any unauthorized interception of this message or the use or disclosure of the information it contains may violate the law and subject the violator to civil or criminal penalties. If you believe you have received this message in error, please notify the sender and delete the email immediately.

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