Payments from U.S. Treasury in civil actions or complaints (Department of Treasury)

Sai filed this request with the Department of Treasury of the United States of America.
Tracking #

2018-11-072, 2019-08-047

2018-11-072

Multi Request Payments from U.S. Treasury in civil actions or complaints
Est. Completion June 19, 2019
Status
No Responsive Documents

Communications

From: Sai

Dear Department of Treasury:

This letter is a formal Freedom of Information Act request for the following records.

# Primary request

A. Payouts

Please provide
1. all records of payments
a) from the Judgment Fund,
b) via any U.S. Treasury check bearing the annotation "ATTN: JUDGMENT FUND CLERK" or otherwise drawable from the Judgment Fund, or
c) via any other payment made from the U.S. Treasury in relation to any civil action or complaint, including ones settled out of court or in an administrative proceeding, such as the FTCA;
2. including any letter(s) accompanying such a check; and
3. including any aggregate records such as databases, spreadsheets, reports, etc. relating to litigation costs or payments; but
4. NOT including:
a) the check itself, UNLESS the other records provided do not provide the amount, date, payee, and reason for payment (e.g. case number), or
b) records that would tend to identify confidential informants.

## Redaction for part (A)

Letters described by (A)(2) typically have an annotation citing the case or other matter from which the payment arose, and/or another indication of the reason for the payment. Do not redact that information, as it is crucial to the interests of this request.

If identities or contact information is listed on such records that is public information, e.g. because it is on a public case docket or other associated public record, please do not redact it. However, you may redact personally identifying information or contact details of private individuals that is not already public. For the purpose of this paragraph, "private individuals" do not include lawyers (acting in that capacity), firms, organizations, or similar entities.

Please do not redact the treasury check number, as it is a useful reference number for cross-referencing other records.

## Scope negotiation for part (A)

If (and only if) aggregate records provided under (a)(3) contain all information in an individual record under (a)(2), please omit the individual record that is encompassed.

I am interested in and willing to negotiate the scope of this request to obtain the information encompassed by these requests in the most easily processed format, such as a central database, rather than individual records such as payout letters. However, I do not know how you organize such data internally.

If you are interested in such negotiation, please respond with a proposal explaining how your records are organized, and what records you have (or are willing to produce) that would encompass this information.

I am also willing to narrow the scope of this request to exclude other categories of sensitive information. If you would like me to do so, please respond by stating what categories you would like to exclude.

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All content after this line is part of my standard request template.
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# Prioritization

Please prioritize, in order:
1. the items & subitems above, in the order listed
2. within each item or subitem, most recent records first.

# Additional requests

I also request:

B. all records relating to the fulfillment of this request, such as FOIA logs, documentation of searches, referral emails, etc.

This part of the request is to be processed only after you have completed processing all of the above parts. This part does not request that you create any new record; rather, it requests the records that you will have created in processing the above parts, and will therefore exist before you conduct the search for this part. See McGehee v. CIA, 697 F. 2d 1095, 1100-05 (D.C. Cir. 1983) (agency must use time-of-search cut-off date, not time-of-request).

C. all records relating to any complaint(s), FOIA request(s)/appeal(s), and/or Privacy Act request(s)/appeal(s) made by me. This includes, but is not limited to:
1. all records relating to the processing my previous requests, complaints, etc;
2. all records containing the terms my name, email address(es), and other contact or identifying information, listed below my signature; and
3. all records containing any of my complaint, request or appeal identifiers.

Parts (B) and (C) must be processed only after you have processed the items above that line, i.e. such that at the time of the search, the records described will have already been created at the time you conduct the search. Part (C) must be processed after part (B) is completed.

Parts (B) and (C) may overlap with similar prior requests. However, the cut-off date is, at earliest, the date that you complete search on all of the above items. If you wish to administratively merge this request with a prior similar request, I consent on condition that you extend the cut-off date for the prior request, and provide rolling updates. Otherwise, you must treat this as a new request.

For all responsive records, I also request:

D.
1. all parts of the record (i.e. no portion of a record with some responsive portion may be considered "non-responsive");
2. all versions of the record, whether or not currently in use;
3. all record metadata, such as dates on which they were drafted, passed, went into effect, withdrawn, or similar events; person(s) / office(s) responsible; authors; IDs; revision numbers; etc.;
4. a detailed index of all claims of exemption/privilege, regardless of whether the record is claimed to be exempt in whole or in part;
access to inspect the record directly, in its native electronic format; and
5. if any classification applies, mandatory declassification review (MDR) under E.O. 13526, and the result of the MDR, including any declassified records.

"All parts of the record" means that the "record" should be considered to be the most comprehensive record with any responsive portion. For instance:
a) if any portion of an email is responsive, the entire contents of all email thread(s) to which that email belongs is also responsive (including attachments);
b) if a record is part of a larger record, such as a responsive table that is in a chapter of a report, then the entire larger record (e.g. the full report) is responsive, together with any appendices, amendments, etc.;
c) if a record is part of a book, the entire book is responsive;
d) if a record is part of a database, all related database records are responsive;
etc.

"Related database records" has the technical meaning used in relational database management systems (such as SQL). It recursively includes all directly and indirectly related records (starting with all responsive records, include as responsive the full row of each, and recursively include as responsive all rows for which any responsive record has a foreign key or is referenced by a foreign key), together with the schema for all responsive records.

Items in part (D) should be prioritized at the same level as the record they apply to.

# Timing

For all requests above, the "cut-off date" is, at the earliest, the date that you conduct the search.

The priority order listed above is only for items that may take extra time to respond to, and must not be taken as blocking response to an otherwise lower priority item that could be released more quickly than a higher priority item that is pending time-intensive search or review.

# FOIA IA notice

Please note that this request is made after the enactment of Public Law No. 114-185, S. 337 (114th), the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 (FOIA IA). The revised statute, as specified in the FOIA IA, applies to this request. FOIA IA § 6.

In particular, please note that:
1. you must provide electronic format documents, §§ 552(a)(2) (undesignated preceding text), 552(a)(2)(E) (undesignated following text), 552(a)(3)(B), and 552(a)(3)(C);
2. you may not specify an appeal duration less than 90 days, § 552(a)(6)(C)(A)(i)(III)(aa);
3. you may not withhold any record unless "the agency reasonably foresees that disclosure would harm an interest protected by an exemption described in subsection (b), or disclosure is prohibited by law", § 552(a)(8)(A)(i);
4. you must segregate and partially release records where possible, §§ 552(a)(8)(A)(ii) and 552(b) (undesignated matter following (b)(9)); and
5. you may not claim deliberative process exemption for records more than 25 years old, § 552(b)(5).

# "Record" defined

For the purposes of this request, except as otherwise specified, "record" means any agreement, appendix, application, assessment, attachment, checklist, circular, contract, correspondence (including but not limited to email), data management plan, documentation of search parameters, email, email attachment, form, guide, handbook, index of records, information consent agreement, information sharing agreement, instruction, interpretation, kit, management instruction, manual, memorandum, memorandum of understanding, notice, notification, opinion, order, plan, policy, policy statement, processing note, publication, recording, referral, report, request certification form, request detail report, response, rule, script, standard operating procedure, submission, talking point, training document, video, or related record described, regardless of publication status.

# Anti-duplication exclusion

This request specifically excludes providing me with new copies of any records which have been already provided to me or published online for free (e.g. on the agency's online "reading room"), in full or identically to the form that would be provided to me under this request (i.e. with exactly the same format, redactions, and claimed exemptions).

This is only an exclusion on providing records under this request that are identical to those already provided to me or available online, and only if I am or have already been provided a link to the online version (if "available online").

This exclusion is only intended to limit unnecessary duplication or provision, not to limit what records are responsive to this request, nor to permit failure to disclose the location of a responsive record available online. If this exclusion would in any way increase the cost or duration to respond to this request, it is to be ignored to the extent it does so.

This request is to be treated as separate from all others that I have filed.

# Forwarding; multi-agency / multi-component records

Please forward this request to the FOIA office of every agency component and subcomponent that may have responsive records for independent processing, with a copy to me.

This request includes any records held jointly by your agency in conjunction with any other agency and/or department, in interagency and/or interdepartmental systems of records, or by other agencies or third parties (including contractors) acting pursuant any agreement with your agency.

# Minimal redaction

Please note that the FOIA requires you to service the maximum extent of my request that can be done via e.g. partial redaction of exempt material. If you believe some portions of a record to be exempt because it contains Sensitive Security Information (SSI, 49 CFR 15 & 1520) or classified information (18 USC 798), please provide a version of the record redacted to the minimum extent necessary to remove exempt information (e.g. per 49 CFR 1520.15), along with adequate information to describe the reason for each specific exemption.

# Estimates and rolling updates

In order to help tailor my request, please provide an upfront estimate of the time and cost it will take to complete this request, broken down any significant factors that would affect cost to service, number of records in each category, and your estimate of how many records in the category are likely to be exempt.

Please provide me with incremental updates, with updated estimates for fulfillment of the remainder, rather than having the entirety of the request be blocked until fully completed.

# No new records; electronic & original format

This request does not ask you to create new records.

If you determine that a response would require creating a new record that you do not want to create, please first contact me by email with an explanation of what records you have that would most closely match the information requested and might be acceptable substitutes, so that we can reasonably tailor the request.

In particular, I specifically request that you do not create new documents in response to this request that are modifications of a digital record, such as page-view images, print views, scans, or the like. No such creation or substitution is authorized by FOIA or the Privacy Act.

However, if the same or similar records are held in both electronic and paper formats, this request includes both the paper and electronic versions. The paper version and the digital version are distinct records, and each may contain distinct information such as handwritten or other markings on the paper copy and embedded metadata in the electronic version.

I specifically request both the original, electronic format record, and (if it contains any additional markings) the paper record.

To the extent that the native electronic format is proprietary or otherwise not in format accessible by widely available, open source software, I also request
1. an export of the proprietary format into a standard, open format, as described below, and
2. all proprietary software necessary to use and understand the original, proprietary format records.

# Rehab Act § 508 compliance

Please note that I am partially blind, use screen readers (such as VoiceOver and TalkBack), and need to process documents using computer code (which requires machine-readable data).

In accordance with 5 USC 552(a)(3)(B & C) (E-FOIA), Rehabilitation Act § 508, and FOIA IA, I demand that you respond using original, native format, electronic, machine-processable, accessible, open, and well structured records to the maximum extent possible — for both the content of your response, and any communications about the request (such as response letters).

This means, e.g.:
1. native, original format records rather than PDFs or other conversions (see note above re providing both native electronic records and scans of paper records, if both exist);
2. individual files per distinct source record (e.g. one .msg file per email), named clearly using the record's identifier, title, and date, rather than a single file containing multiple concatenated records;
3. records compliant with the Rehabilitation Act § 508, 36 CFR Part 1194, and I​SO 14289­-1;
4. fully digital text records rather than scans, rasterizations, or OCR;
5. complete electronic records, as held on any computer (including phones, servers, backup servers, mail servers, workstations, etc.), including all headers and attachments, fully expanded e-mail addresses, full addresses for address "aliases", full lists for "distribution list" aliases, all embedded and external metadata, complete bitwise digital copies of the original file, all file headers, and all other file content;
6. blackout rather than whiteout redactions, with every redaction marked with all exemption(s) claimed for that redaction;
7. digital redactions rather than black marker or rasterization;
8. lists and structured data as machine-processable spreadsheets (e.g. CSV, SQL, XSL) rather than word documents (e.g. DOC, PDF, TXT, RTF) or partial printouts (e.g. PDF),
9. open format records (e.g. PDF, AVI, MPG) rather than proprietary format records (e.g. WordPerfect, Microsoft Advanced Systems Format (ASF)) (note above re providing both original, proprietary format records and open format records);
10. scans rather than paper copies;
11. digital audio/video files rather than physical tapes;
12. upload to your Electronic Reading Room (or other publicly accessible server) rather than personal transfer (for all items other than the item requesting records related to me or my requests);
13. email or (S)FTP file transfer rather than CD;
14. email correspondence rather than physical mail; etc.

# Compression, passwords, and uploading large files

Multiple files may be sent in a combined, compressed form using standard ZIP, TAR, GZIP, BZIP2, and/or RAR formats, or sent as separate files, at your discretion.

Do not use any password on any files, including ZIP files etc., unless a password was present in the original, native format (in which case, leave it unaltered, and send me the password).

If there are any files you prefer not to transfer by email (e.g. if they are >10MB), please upload them to me via the link listed below my signature. Doing so is secure, completely free to you, and I will be notified of the upload.

# No physical "duplication"; inspection & direct access

Please note that this request does not request that you physically "duplicate" records, as I do not want you to create any paper or other physical copy for me — I only want electronic versions (or scans, for records that are not fully available in electronic form). As such, I expect there to be no duplication related costs.

Furthermore, I specifically request access for inspection of the records, including direct electronic access, in native format, to any electronic records.

# No fees agreed to; non-commercial status; journalistic & public interest waiver

I am not currently willing to pay for servicing this request. I may be willing to pay if it is necessary; please send a detailed explanation of the costs and their statutory justification, and service the maximum extent of the request that can be done for free in the meantime.

This request is a qualified request for journalistic, public interest purposes. As such, I request fully waived fees, including both public interest fee waiver and journalistic fee waiver.

1. Fiat Fiendum, Inc. (FF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, organized for charitable, educational, scientific, and/or literary purposes.

This request is a part of FF's bona fide educational and scientific purpose activities, which are public interest purposes as a matter of law.

2. FF's actions in matters such as this request are non-commercial. My personal interest in the records is also non-commercial.

3. Both Fiat Fiendum as an organization, and I as an individual, are representatives of the news media and entitled to waiver of all search fees.

4. I intend and am able to host and publish all received records online to the general public at no charge, as well to publish highlights, analyses, summaries, commentaries, and other creative, original journalistic and scientific work about responsive records through multiple online publications, as part of Fiat Fiendum's work.

5. The records requested are of significant public interest, entitled to waiver of all duplication fees, since
a. they are requested for 501(c)(3) public interest purposes;
b. as above, I both am able and intend to disseminate the files widely;
c. they would contribute greatly to the public understanding of the operations & activities of your agency, in that they are records that directly describe agency operations & activities, as well as the issues and matters described at the top of this letter;
d. they are not currently readily available; and
e. they are likely to be requested by others.

6. As mentioned above, I am explicitly not asking for any physical duplication, but rather direct server-to-server file transfer or email (or posting on your website). FOIA authorizes "duplication" fees strictly limited to your agency's actual costs, and mandates that your agency use the cheapest available requested methods. I consider the actual costs for server-to-server file transfer to be reasonably estimated by, e.g., Amazon S3's pricing (https://aws.amazon.com/s3/pricing/).

7. I request that, pending fee waiver determination or appeal, you proceed with this request as if it were in the "other non-commercial requester" category.

# Requester

This request is made on behalf of both myself, Sai (in personal capacity) and Fiat Fiendum, Inc. (in official capacity).

Please note that “Sai” is my full legal name.

# Request tracking numbers and estimated completion date

Upon receipt, and in every followup response, please state your tracking number(s) for this request, as well as your specific estimated completion date. 5 USC 552(a)(7).

# Communication about this request and method for responding

If you have any questions or updates about this request, please contact me by email, using only the MuckRock email address from which this request was sent. Please do not send responses to my personal or organizational email addresses unless I specifically request you to do so.

Please ensure that all of your responses comply with § 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, 36 CFR Part 1194, and I​SO 14289­-1.

In particular, please make all correspondence pursuant to this request — including notification and responsive records — by email, with native electronic format records, as specified in the request. I do not authorize you to send anything to me by physical mail unless I specifically state otherwise.

Do not respond using ZixCorp "Secure Mail" or any other method that "expires" records from being available. Use only actual email and direct attachments, or upload using the link below, unless I explicitly request otherwise.

# "Reasonable description" and tailoring

Please note that a request need only be "reasonably described" in the sense that you understand what is requested and where you can find it. A request is not improper merely because of the amount of responsive records. I will not agree to a limitation premised on this request asking for voluminous records. However, I may agree to a limitation premised on the difficulty of finding particular records or categories thereof, the quality of records available, paper vs electronic format, or similar issues.

If you believe that any of the requested items are not reasonably described, that they would be overly burdensome to fulfill, or that you need any further information, please be specific about what you consider vague.

Please include in any response about "reasonably described", or any request for narrowing, specific questions I can answer that would clarify matters for you; specific descriptions of what parts of the request more or less burdensome (and why) that could serve as the basis for negotiating a narrower request; and any indexes, finding guides, record categories, record storage practices, likely places that responsive records may be located, or similar information that would allow me to understand your concerns and better tailor the request.

Sincerely,
Sai
President, Fiat Fiendum, Inc.

Fiat Fiendum is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt corporation devoted to public interest journalism, government transparency and accountability, individuals' civil rights, and related issues.

Upload link and physical mail address are below. (Again, do not physically mail responsive records without my explicit request; send all responses electronically.)

From: Department of Treasury

[cid:image001.jpg@01D0A2E1.4C3000A0]

The U.S. Department of the Treasury has received the information you submitted to the FOIA@TREASURY.gov<mailto:FOIA@TREASURY.gov> mailbox.

If you are submitting a FOIA request, this courtesy reply does not replace the acknowledgement letter which will include a FOIA case number once your request has been entered into our FOIA Request Tracking System.

If you are seeking the status of a pending FOIA request for which you have a FOIA case number, please call (202) 622-0930 to obtain the status of your request.

Please visit our FOIA Library at http://www.treasury.gov/FOIA/Pages/reading_room.aspx.

Thank you for contacting the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

From: Department of Treasury

Dear Sirs:

Please see the attached letter in response to the above-mentioned FOIA request.

Sincerely,

*******************
Denise Nelson
Co-Disclosure Officer
Office of Legislative & Public Affairs
Bureau of the Fiscal Service
U.S. Department of the Treasury
[BFS_logo2]<http://www.fiscal.treasury.gov/>[FB]<http://www.facebook.com/fiscalservice> [TW] <http://www.twitter.com/fiscalservice> [TY] <https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdyAwy3x_u8TxQKOyKE_Bwg> [LinkedIN icon_bluedark] <https://www.linkedin.com/company/united-states-department-of-the-treasury-bureau-of-public-debt>

From: Sai

Thank you for your response.

1. The JFPS website lacks data before 2006, which is included in my request (as the request has no time limit).

2. The JFPS website lacks important data for many payments, e.g. the payee(s), case name / docket #, AUSA(s), authorizing entity, etc., which would be included in the documents stated in my request.

Since you have not addressed the bulk of my request A, and none of parts B–D, I ask that you please do so.

Sincerely,
Sai

From: Department of Treasury

Dear Sir:

Please see the attached letter in response to your inquiry below.

Sincerely,

*******************
Denise Nelson
Co-Disclosure Officer
Office of Legislative & Public Affairs
Bureau of the Fiscal Service
U.S. Department of the Treasury
[BFS_logo2]<http://www.fiscal.treasury.gov/>[FB]<http://www.facebook.com/fiscalservice> [TW] <http://www.twitter.com/fiscalservice> [TY] <https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdyAwy3x_u8TxQKOyKE_Bwg> [LinkedIN icon_bluedark] <https://www.linkedin.com/company/united-states-department-of-the-treasury-bureau-of-public-debt>

From: Sai

Thank you for your clarification.

You have stated that you have, essentially, three sources of responsive records:
1. the current database, started April 2008
2. an older database
3. paper off-site storage

I agree to exclude #3 from the request.

I request the entire database files for #1 & #2, in their original format (or a mutually agreed export format, such as SQL), together with (in native format, or PDF if only available on paper) all technical and other manuals about the databases (e.g. describing their schema, use, ETL instructions, etc). I specifically do not request that you search the database, nor that you restore the older database. I will do so myself using my own computing resources, and simply require the database files and related documentation in order to do so.

I expect this clarification to obviate any need for you to expend substantial resources related to searching either database, or restoring the old database, at least for the purposes of a FOIA "search" or "duplication". (You have not mentioned any "review" related issues.)

I ask that you first produce the documentation (manuals, schemas, etc.) for both the "current" and "old" databases, so that we can have a mutually informed discussion of how to best address any remaining issues (e.g. making categorical redactions in bulk by use of a trivial Unix shell script).

Please note that you still have not addressed parts B-D of the request.

Sincerely,
Sai

From: Department of Treasury

Dear Sir:

We expect to have a response to you by next week, NLT Wednesday, June 19, 2019.

Sincerely,
*******************
Denise Nelson
Co-Disclosure Officer
Office of Legislative & Public Affairs
Bureau of the Fiscal Service
U.S. Department of the Treasury
[BFS_logo2]<http://www.fiscal.treasury.gov/>[FB]<http://www.facebook.com/fiscalservice> [TW] <http://www.twitter.com/fiscalservice> [TY] <https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdyAwy3x_u8TxQKOyKE_Bwg> [LinkedIN icon_bluedark] <https://www.linkedin.com/company/united-states-department-of-the-treasury-bureau-of-public-debt>

From: Department of Treasury

Dear Sir:

Please see the attached letter in response to the above-mentioned FOIA request.

Sincerely,

*******************
Denise Nelson
Co-Disclosure Officer
Office of Legislative & Public Affairs
Bureau of the Fiscal Service
U.S. Department of the Treasury
[BFS_logo2]<http://www.fiscal.treasury.gov/>[FB]<http://www.facebook.com/fiscalservice> [TW] <http://www.twitter.com/fiscalservice> [TY] <https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdyAwy3x_u8TxQKOyKE_Bwg> [LinkedIN icon_bluedark] <https://www.linkedin.com/company/united-states-department-of-the-treasury-bureau-of-public-debt>

From: Sai

> The current database involved in accessing these records maintains records dated back to October 2002; this was previously stated incorrectly as April 2008.
> This public-facing search feature is linked to our internal database and makes available the information that you are looking for.

The record that I requested is the database itself, in a specified format. An interface to search it is not sufficient to fulfill this request.

Please provide the actual "internal database" that you reference, in full, in native format (e.g. SQL dump).

> This database maintains fields such as

What fields does the database contain other than those that you listed?

What is the database *schema*?

Do you have records such as manuals, technical specs, etc.?

> All other records dated prior to 2002 are in an older database that would need to be restored before we could extract this same data.

What precisely do you mean by "restored"? How is it currently stored? What is the database format / software?

I asked for the actual database files, in full, in the format that they are already stored on your server / backup. I can do all of the processing and extraction myself. I haven't requested you to "extract" any data.

> This process is burdensome and would not be feasible for us to accomplish;

Why, exactly?

> nor can we provide the public copies of our full database(s) due to security and privacy concerns. This database may have data fields which are subject to FOIA exemptions from disclosure and/or which we may be prohibited from disclosing by law.

What "security and privacy concerns" are there, other than the FOIA exemptions or other prohibitions you vaguely refer to in the second sentence?

What is the database schema?

What actual exemptions do you claim, as to what fields, and are they for the entire column or just a subset? What schema subset, or regex filter, might address your exemption claims in bulk?

As you are surely aware, considerations of *review*, such as you have raised here, are simply not relevant to the question of whether you are able to find the record requested with a reasonable *search*. It is plain that you do in fact have the record I requested readily available, in a central file. I requested that full file, in precisely the form you already have it. You've found it, so that's the end of that. Sending a data file is trivial. There's nothing left to the discussion but the review aspect.

You haven't actually stated any exemption claim, nor even what fields or content therein is of concern. You've made a purely speculative claim that some portion *might* be subject to some hypothetical exemption. That's not adequate.

I am perfectly willing to work with you to address your review / withholding concerns. I offer to alter my request to ask for a filtered subset of the database, in a standard, easy to process database format such as SQL, that is tailored to avoid any information for which there is a plausible exemption.

However, that depends on your cooperation. There's no way for us to fruitfully discuss that kind of tailoring without *both*
a) technical details about the schema, format, etc, and
b) more details as to what you want to withhold, and by what exemption.

Please have your technical staff respond, so that this discussion can be more productive. Meaning no offense, if you don't know what an SQL dump or database schema is, you are not the right person to be able to discuss tailoring at this point. I personally do have both the technical and legal expertise necessary for the discussion.

Sincerely,
Sai

From: Department of Treasury

Good morning,

Attached is Treasury's acknowledgement and final response to your recently submitted FOIA request.

Thank you,

Cawana

From: Department of Treasury

Your request was closed and responded to via email on August 9, 2019.

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