SF-311 forms (Drug Enforcement Administration)

Emma Best filed this request with the Drug Enforcement Administration of the United States of America.
Tracking # 17-00362-F, DOJ-AP-2017-003192
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:

Copies of all drafted or submitted SF-311 forms (https://www.archives.gov/files/isoo/security-forms/sf311.pdf) for all available years.

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. Per DOJ FOIA guidance, "a requester should be granted a fee waiver if the requested information (1) sheds light on the activities and operations of the government; (2) is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of those operations and activities; and (3) is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester." As this FOIA meets all of those requirements (see above), a fee waiver is warranted.

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: Drug Enforcement Administration

An acknowledgement letter, stating the request is being processed.

From: Davis, Yvette D.

Good afternoon Mr. Best,

I have attached the DEA FOIA's response to your recent FOIA request: 17-00362-F.

Best regards,

Yvette Davis
Government Information Specialist
Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Unit (SARF)
Drug Enforcement Administration (HQS)
8701 Morrissette Drive, Sixth Floor (West Bldg.)
Springfield, Virginia 22152
Office: 202-353-1393
Fax: 202-307-8556
Email: Yvette.D.Davis@usdoj.gov<mailto:Yvette.D.Davis@usdoj.gov>

From: Michael Best

The description was precise and more than adequate for anyone familiar with the records to locate them. Additionally, the number of offices to be searched does not render requests overly broad or burdensome. The standard set forth by both statute and case law is that the records must be described adequately so that someone familiar with the type of record will know how to begin the search process and so that someone reviewing potentially responsive documents will be able to tell if the document is responsive or not. That is most certainly the case for my request. The amount of search effort is a matter for search fees, though I am warranted a waiver on all search fees as I am a member of the media. Further, no part of my request would require them to perform "a far reaching search of every record system." That is a gross mis-representation of my FOIA request and the search process that would be necessary to identify these records. Further, other agencies have processed this request without difficulty, which further casts doubt on the DEA's overly frequently (and rarely correct) claim that records aren't adequately described.

From: Michael Best

I am appealing the determination that I did not adequately describe the records. The description was precise and more than adequate for anyone familiar with the records to locate them. Additionally, the number of offices to be searched does not render requests overly broad or burdensome. The standard set forth by both statute and case law is that the records must be described adequately so that someone familiar with the type of record will know how to begin the search process and so that someone reviewing potentially responsive documents will be able to tell if the document is responsive or not. That is most certainly the case for my request. The amount of search effort is a matter for search fees, though I am warranted a waiver on all search fees as I am a member of the media. Further, no part of my request would require them to perform "a far reaching search of every record system." That is a gross mis-representation of my FOIA request and the search process that would be necessary to identify these records. Further, other agencies have processed this request without difficulty, which further casts doubt on the DEA's overly frequently (and rarely correct) claim that records aren't adequately described.

From: Davis, Yvette D.

Good Afternoon Mr. Best,

I apologize for the late response in relation to your email dated March 17, 2017. While I understand that you are looking for SF-311, you have to describe, the year (or range of years), department, agency, city, region, or state you are looking for. Be advised that there are approximately 22 DEA Field Divisions, over 250 domestic offices, and more than 150 Headquarters activities. Searching out all copies of the form SF-311 will be very burdensome for the program office to search and retrieve.

I hope my explanation was helpful. Please contact me at my direct line at 202-353-1393 if you have any more questions.

Best regards,

Yvette Davis
Government Information Specialist
Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Unit (SARF)
Drug Enforcement Administration (HQS)
8701 Morrissette Drive, Sixth Floor (West Bldg.)
Springfield, Virginia 22152
Office: 202-353-1393
Fax: 202-307-8556
Email: Yvette.D.Davis@usdoj.gov<mailto:Yvette.D.Davis@usdoj.gov>

From: Michael Best

The number of headquarters activities should be irrelevant for the number of forms filed or the necessary search scope, based on my understanding. I'm happy to limit the search to HQ filings, though I was under the impression that the form isn't filed by individual field offices, etc. In fact, per the CFR only one SF-311 is filed per year by your Agency. As such, I request forms for all years.

From: OIP-NoReply@usdoj.gov

03/27/2017 11:48 AM FOIA Request: DOJ-AP-2017-003192

From: OIP-NoReply@usdoj.gov

04/13/2017 10:43 AM FOIA Request: DOJ-AP-2017-003498

From: OIP-NoReply@usdoj.gov

DOJ-AP-2017-003498 has been processed with the following final disposition: Closed for other reasons -- Duplicate request or appeal.

  • Best, Michael, AP-2017-003192 & 003498, DEA - Remand Further Processin

From: DEA.FOIA

Good morning Mr. Best,
Attached, you will find our response to your SARF case number 17-00362-F & 17-00068-AP request.
Respectfully yours,
Joyce Whitley
Program Specialist
Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Unit (SARF)
Drug Enforcement Administration (HQS)
8701 Morrissette Drive, West Bldg., 6th Floor
Springfield, Virginia 22152
(desk) 202-353-1212; (fax) 202-307-8556
FOIA/PA Main Phone Line 202-307-7596

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