SES Reassignments at DOI

Alexander Rony filed this request with the Department of the Interior of the United States of America.
Tracking #

1390662

Due Aug. 24, 2017
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Response

Communications

From: Alexander Rony

To Whom It May Concern:

I am filing a Freedom of Information Act request for the following records:

1. Written notices of reassignments sent to Interior Department Senior Executive Service members from June 12, 2017 to the date this request is processed. The Washington Post has reported that dozens received reassignment letters on June 15 (see http://wapo.st/2sGRV9P).
2. Written consent waivers for reassignments sent by Senior Executive Service members.

I would prefer the request be filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not. Please produce the records on a rolling basis; at no point should the search for – or deliberation concerning – certain records delay the production of others that the agency has already retrieved and elected to produce.

I respectfully request that you waive all fees in connection with this request as provided by 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(iii). The Sierra Club is a national environmental nonprofit with no commercial interest in obtaining the requested information. Instead, our organization intends to analyze and disseminate the requested information free of charge so that the public can meaningfully participate in debates over the proper function of the Senior Executive Service.

The subject matter of the requested records is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations and activities of the government by disclosing how federal agencies plan to use some of their most-experienced employees and shining a light on which programs are being deprioritized by the department's new leadership.

The Sierra Club and its supporters have demonstrated interest and expertise in the subject area and have made many recommendations to create and reform many of the affected agencies and programs. The Sierra Club maintains active campaigns on climate change, the Arctic, and endangered species, among other issues that are related to Senior Executive Service members' work.

In addition to the public interest fee waiver, I ask to be properly categorized as a representative of the news media. The bulk of my professional duties at the Sierra Club entails planning and writing content about public policy, including composing mass communications to our followers, analyzing FOIA responses, and coordinating press outreach. I have previously written about the federal government's work to reorganize its staff:

https://sierraclub.org/planet/2017/05/trump-admin-policies-leave-700-cdc-jobs-vacant
https://sierraclub.org/planet/2017/04/hiring-freeze-prevented-epa-filling-hundreds-jobs

This work, supplemented by Freedom of Information Act requests, was covered in major media outlets:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/05/19/nearly-700-vacancies-at-cdc-because-of-trump-administration-hiring-freeze/
http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/13/politics/epa-hiring-freeze/index.html

The executive reassignments are closely tied to this larger effort to restructure agencies' offices and workforce. Secretary Ryan Zinke has stated to Congress that reassignments are part of a larger strategy to cut 4,000 full-time positions from the department (see https://www.eenews.net/greenwire/2017/06/21/stories/1060056369).

The Sierra Club has the ability and intention to disseminate the information it receives through this request. The information may be shared through emails to an audience reaching into the millions, Facebook and Twitter posts reaching tens of thousands of followers, articles on our often-visited website, and analysis provided to the media.

In the event that there are fees, please inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. Please also include an explanation of why I was not granted the fee waivers and/or reductions.

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,

Alexander Rony
Sierra Club

From: OS, OS FOIA

Dear Mr. Rony,

Please find attached an acknowledgment letter for FOIA request
OS-2017-00915.

V/r,
Leah
--
Department of the Interior
Office of the Secretary, FOIA Office
1849 C Street, NW, MS-7328
Washington, D.C. 20240
os_foia@ios.doi.gov
(202) 513-0765 - phone
(202) 219-2374 - fax

From: OS, OS FOIA

Dear Mr. Rony,

We are currently coordinating and waiting on responsive records from the
program offices. Please be assured we will continue to follow up and begin
processing once we receive the potentially responsive records.

V/r,
Leah
--
Department of the Interior
Office of the Secretary, FOIA Office
1849 C Street, NW, MS-7328
Washington, D.C. 20240
os_foia@ios.doi.gov
(202) 513-0765 - phone
(202) 219-2374 - fax

From: Alexander Rony

Dear Leah,

I am following up on my FOIA request (OS-2017-00915). Are there any updates on this request?

Thank you,
Alexander Rony
Sierra Club

From: Department of the Interior

Please see attached.
Thanks,
Ryan

--
Department of the Interior
Office of the Secretary, FOIA Office
1849 C Street, NW, MS-7328
Washington, D.C. 20240
os_foia@ios.doi.gov
(202) 513-0765 - phone
(202) 219-2374 - fax

From: Alexander Rony

Thank you, Ryan, for your 12/5/17 response to my request (#OS-2017-00915). Was this an interim response? I had asked for reassignment notices and consent waivers up to when the request was processed, and it has been reported that additional SES reassignments were made (https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060058999).

Thank you,
Alexander

From: Department of the Interior

This is correct.

I should have most of the consent waivers, but I have not reviewed them
yet. We'll send a final response to you when the review is complete.

Ryan
--
Department of the Interior
Office of the Secretary, FOIA Office
1849 C Street, NW, MS-7328
Washington, D.C. 20240
os_foia@ios.doi.gov
(202) 513-0765 - phone
(202) 219-2374 - fax

From: Alexander Rony

Great, thank you for the clarification.

From: Department of the Interior

Dear Mr. Rony,

We are still coordinating and waiting for records for request
OS-2017-00915. We will begin processing as soon as we have all potentially
responsive records.
Thanks,

Cindy

--
Department of the Interior
Office of the Secretary, FOIA Office
1849 C Street, NW, MS-7328
Washington, D.C. 20240
os_foia@ios.doi.gov
(202) 513-0765 - phone
(202) 219-2374 - fax

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