Student Outcome Data at Trade Schools

Jasper Craven filed this request with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs of the United States of America .
Tracking #

20-04800-F

Est. Completion None
Status
Fix Required

Communications

From: Jasper Craven


To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following records:

All student outcome data from the past five years at career/trade/vocational and other "non-college degree" programs eligible for G.I. Bill dollars.

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,

Jasper Craven

From: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Dear Mr. Craven,

This message seeks clarification to your February 27, 2020, request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552, to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) FOIA Service requesting the following:

All student outcome data from the past five years at career/trade/vocational and other "non-college degree" programs eligible for G.I. Bill dollars.

As indicated in VA's letter acknowledging receipt, the VA FOIA Service received your FOIA request on February 27, 2020, and assigned it the FOIA tracking number of 20-04800-F.

The FOIA provides that any person has the right to obtain access to federal agency records, except to the extent that such records or portions of the records are protected from public disclosure by one of the nine FOIA exemptions or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions. The FOIA requires federal agencies to make their "records" promptly available to any person who makes a proper request. A proper FOIA request is defined as one that reasonably describes the records sought and is made in accordance with the agency's published rules stating the time, place, fees (if any), and procedures to be followed. The VA's FOIA implementing regulations (rules) are found at Title 38 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) sections 1.550 through 1.562.

As indicated in the above paragraph, the FOIA provides that agencies are to search for records responsive to FOIA requests that "reasonably describe" the records requested. Stated another way, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) will search for records responsive to a FOIA request when that request describes the records sought in such a manner that an agency employee familiar with the subject area can identify the records requested and locate those records with a "reasonable amount of effort". For example, a request for all documents that refer or relate in any way to a subject, e.g. approved programs, would not be considered reasonably described as an employee would not be able to determine exactly what documents are being sought.

After consulting with the subject matter experts about your request, it has been determined that your FOIA request does not reasonably describe the records with sufficient particularity for VBA employees to identify and search for the records with a reasonable amount of effort. Please provide further clarity regarding specific measure(s) or metric(s) of student outcome data that you seek so that we can provide the relevant records with a reasonable amount of effort.

In accordance with VA's implementing regulations, found at 38 C.F.R. § 1.554(d)(4), VBA Education Service (EDU) is providing you with 30 calendar days to provide clarification on your request. If you have not responded to this message by April 3, 2020, VBA EDU will assume that you are no longer interested in pursuing your request and will take the appropriate measures to administratively close your request. Please keep in mind that the timeframe, which we have to respond to your FOIA request does not run while we are waiting your response to our request for clarification.

If you should have any further questions, please contact 22FOIA.VBACO@va.gov<mailto:22FOIA.VBACO@va.gov>.

Thank you,

Education Service FOIA Staff

Veterans Benefits Administration

From: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

The request has been forwarded from one agency to another agency or department for further review or follow up.

From: Jasper Craven

Because there isn't any public-facing indication of VA's outcome work on trade schools, I admit that I am not able to provide many specific details about the type of data I'm looking for. Can you ask VBA professionals if there is some sort of tracking system for outcomes at trade schools?

From: Jasper Craven

Because there isn't any public-facing indication of VA's outcome work on trade schools, I admit that I am not able to provide many specific details about the type of data I'm looking for. Can you ask VBA professionals if there is some sort of tracking system for outcomes at trade schools?

From: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Dear Mr. Craven,

This message responds to your below March 13, 2020, email message regarding your February 27, 2020, request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552, to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) FOIA Service requesting the following:

All student outcome data from the past five years at career/trade/vocational and other "non-college degree" programs eligible for G.I. Bill dollars.

In the below March 14, 2020, email message to you, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) Education Service (EDU) stated that it had been determined that your FOIA request does not reasonably describe the records with sufficient particularity for VBA employees to identify and search for the records with a reasonable amount of effort. In that message, VBA EDU requested you provide further clarity regarding specific measure(s) or metric(s) of student outcome data that you seek regarding the “career/trade/vocational and other ‘non-college degree’” programs, so that we could provide the relevant records with a reasonable amount of effort.

In your below message of March 13, 2020, you do not provide any clarification. At present, because you are not able to clarify the type of data you seek for trade schools, VBA EDU is not able to search for the request that remains in the form it has existed since your inquiry. Should you clarify the measure(s) or metric(s) of student outcome data that you seek, we can search for any relevant records with a reasonable amount of effort. In accordance with VA's implementing regulations previously referenced, VBA EDU provided you until April 3, 2020, to provide clarification before we will assume that you are no longer interested in pursuing your request and will take the appropriate measures to administratively close it.

If you are able to provide clarification of the nature described in the March 14, 2020, email message, please contact 22FOIA.VBACO@va.gov<mailto:22FOIA.VBACO@va.gov%3cmailto:22FOIA.VBACO@va.gov>.

Thank you,

Education Service FOIA Staff

Veterans Benefits Administration

From: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Craven,

Please note that the references in our most recent message (March 16, 2020 - immediately below) to a March 14, 2020, email message, should have been to the March 4, 2020, message; this was the message seeking clarification. We hope that this correction helps prevent any confusion.

Thank you,

Education Service FOIA Staff

Veterans Benefits Administration

From: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Dear Mr. Craven,

This message is the official notification that the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) Education Service (EDU) has administratively closed your request dated February 27, 2020 under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. section 552, in which you specifically asked for, “All student outcome data from the past five years at career/trade/vocational and other ‘non-college degree’ programs eligible for G.I. Bill dollars.” Your request is being closed because you have not provided the clarification we requested to process your FOIA request.
The VA FOIA Service received your FOIA request on February 27, 2020, and assigned it the FOIA tracking number of 20-04800-F.

By the way of our email message dated March 4, 2020, we informed you of the need to provide clarification of the scope of your request. In the March 4, 2020, email message, we stated that if we had not received a response from you by April 3, 2020, then we would conclude that you do not wish for us to proceed in processing your request and will administratively close your request. Since that time, while you provided a follow-up email message of March 13, 2020, you did not provide any clarification, as discussed in our March 16, 2020 email message responding to your follow-up message. We have subsequently not received a response from you regarding clarification of your request. Consequently, VBA EDU has administratively closed your request.

APPEAL RIGHTS
You may appeal the initial determination made in this response to:

Department of Veterans Affairs
Office of General Counsel (OGC) (Appeals)
810 Vermont Avenue, N.W. (024)
Washington, DC 20420-0001
Email: OGCFOIAAppeals@va.gov<mailto:OGCFOIAAppeals@va.gov>

VA FOIA Appeal, Public Liaison, OGIS Options
You have the right to seek assistance from the VA FOIA Public Liaison at telephone number 1(877) 750-3642 or by email at vacofoiaservice@va.gov<mailto:vacofoiaservice@va.gov>.

Please include your FOIA case number in any appeal. Also, include a copy of this letter with your written appeal and clearly state why you disagree with the determinations set forth in this response. You must file your appeal within 90 days from the date of this letter clearly marking both the letter and the envelope “Freedom of Information Act Appeal.” Please include a copy of this letter with your appeal, and state why you disagree with this determination.

Additionally, as part of the 2007 FOIA amendments, the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) was created to offer mediation services to resolve disputes between FOIA requesters and Federal agencies. You may contact OGIS by email at ogis@nara.gov<mailto:ogis@nara.gov>; by toll-free telephone at 1-877-684-6448 (or 202-741-5770); by facsimile at 202-741-5769; or by writing to:

Office of Government Information Services
National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road, Room 2510
College Park, MD 20740-6001

Sincerely,

Cheryl A. Amitay

Education Service FOIA Officer
Veterans Benefits Administration

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