transgender policy - HUD

Emily Crose filed this request with the Department of Housing and Urban Development of the United States of America.
Tracking #

19-FI-HQ-02010

Due Oct. 22, 2019
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Response

Communications

From: Emily Crose


To Whom It May Concern:

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

Any internal communications between employees up to and including the director which include the words "transgender" and/or "transsexual" and/or "transgenders" and/or "trannies". Please consider any electronic messaging, policy development documentation, legal communications between other US government agencies and handwritten notes to be responsive to this request.

Please also limit the scope of this request to dates between October 1, 2016 and September 21, 2019.

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,

Emily Crose

From: Department of Housing and Urban Development

Hello,

The attached letter is in reference to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request dated and received on September 19, 2019. You asked for a copy of any internal communications between Department of Housing and Urban Development employees up to and including the director which include the words "transgender" and/or "transsexual" and/or "transgenders" and/or "trannies." Including, any electronic messaging, policy development documentation, legal communications, between other government agencies, and handwritten notes.

Please be advised that HUD will comply with your request to the extent permissible by law. Any records not subject to an exemption will be forwarded to you promptly upon completion of the Department's search and review process. However, your request is too broad and vague to be processed. Asking for copies of internal communications between employees up to and including the director doesn't provide a narrow enough scope. The Department performs electronic searches by custodial names, has many employees at HUD, and you haven't provided any HUD employee names in which to utilize for a search. Also, you initially state, "internal communications" and then later state "communications between other US government agencies." You need to specify whose records you want, or, if you truly only want internal records.

Please clarify your request within 15 business days from the date of this letter. If I do not hear from you within that time, your request will be withdrawn. Please be advised that such an action will not preclude you from filing other requests in the future. If you wish to clarify your request, please email your clarification to eugene.a.mcgirt@hud.gov<mailto:eugene.a.mcgirt@hud.gov> or submit it to the following address:

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Office of the Executive Secretariat, FOIA Branch

451 Seventh Street, SW, Room 10139

Washington, DC 20410-3000

Attention: Eugene McGirt
Telephone: (202) 402-4315

From: Emily Crose

Please include in the scope of this request, any communications including the provided list of words both internally, and between the Executive Office of the President (EOP) and the Department of Justice.

From: Department of Housing and Urban Development

I received your updated request asking for "any communications including the provided list of words both internally, and between the Executive Office of the President (EOP) and the Department of Justice".

But, you still haven't provided any HUD employee names in which to utilize for a search.

The Department performs electronic searches by custodial names, has many employees at HUD, and you need to provide names (or program office) in which to search.

From: Emily Crose

I'm curious how I might know the names of specific employees within HUD. I would start by asking for any emails involving the current Director of HUD (Secretary Dr. Ben Carson since we're dealing with explicit names...) or any of his direct deputies (whose names I'm baffled you'd expect me to know without any contextual information).

However, I would also like to see emails involving lower level employees as well. I've never been challenged to provide specific names to fulfill a broad FOIA request of a similar nature, so perhaps you would be able to advise me how I might be able to help you get specific names. Is there not a way for you to perform a keyword search of recorded messages for the keyword list provided? If no, what is the technical challenge that is causing this?

From: Department of Housing and Urban Development

HUD doesn't utilize a system that allows for a "keyword search of recorded messages for the keyword list [you] provided" unless it's connected to a custodian's name.

Most submitted requests of this nature indicate employee names in which to conduct a search.

Names are usually provided based on the requester having an idea of the parties involved.

It seems that communicating about this via phone would provide an easier opportunity for clarity than our current fax/email method.

From: Emily Crose

I don't have any idea of the parties that may be involved in policy development of this type and it's unreasonable for you to expect that I would have specific names of individuals involved in this kind of policy development without privileged information.

From: Department of Housing and Urban Development

Ben Carson is the Secretary and Brian Montgomery is the Deputy Secretary.

From: Department of Housing and Urban Development


From: Department of Housing and Urban Development

Your request asks for emails of HUD employees. It requires utilization of the Department's eDiscovery tool for a search for responsive records. The Department's eDiscovery tool is contracted with a third-party. The system utilized by this contractor auto-assigns a collection date on a first-in-first-out basis, and is capable of collecting records for a set number of custodians per day. As a result, the Department does not maintain direct control over the collection process and cannot alter the scheduled collection date for a particular request.

Given the high volume of requests for eDiscovery searches, the third-party system is operating at capacity with a significant backlog. Once the record collection has been completed, responsive records will be delivered to the FOIA Branch for review. At that time, we will work diligently to finalize your request as quickly as possible.

From: Department of Housing and Urban Development

The request is still open and pending.

From: Department of Housing and Urban Development

The request is still open and pending.

From: Department of Housing and Urban Development

Hello, Please, let me know, viaemail to me at your earliest convenience, whether or not you are stillinterested in receiving a response to your Department of Housing and UrbanDevelopment FOIA request 19-FI-HQ-02010. I have been reassigned to process this request due to the priorprocessor’s FOIA Branch departure. You must confirm via email atwilliam.d.smith@hud.gov to me within 10 business days from the date of thisnotice that you want to continue with your request. If you do not confirm thatyou are still interested in receiving a response to your HUD FOIA requestwithin that time, your request will be administratively withdrawn. Please beadvised that such an action will not preclude you from filing this or otherrequests in the future. Currently, along withthe present incoming FOIA requests, we are still working to complete your FOIArequest as well as all the other backlogged FOIA requests. Our effort is toprovide responses to FOIA requesters who are still interested inreceiving them. We must apply theDepartments’ first in and first out FOIA procedures, as there are many requestssurrounding each other.  However, if you are still interested, I assureyou that we will provide a response to your request as soon as possible. The Departmentapologizes for the delay in processing your FOIA request. HUD has experiencedchanges that have contributed to a tremendous backlog and extensive delays inthe ability to process incoming requests in a timely manner. We look forward to youremail response.

From: Emily Crose

You're not going to shake my FOIA requests this easily. Yes, I still want a response. Please process it.

From: Emily Crose

I've also tried to send an email to the address provided, and mail is being blocked. I'm not amused by this. If I need to take screenshots and bring it up with my congressional representatives, I'd be happy to do so. I have a feeling they wouldn't be happy to see a deceptive loop in the FOIA process from HUD...

From: Emily Crose

At this point, I would like to ask that this request be expedited given the recent interest in the material that would be responsive to this request. Please see the attached document outlining the referenced interest.

  • HUD3A20Homeless20shelters20can20use20physical20characteristics20to20ID20transgender20.pdf

  • Trump20administration20memo20explains20how20to20spot20a20transgender20woman203A20LGB.pdf

  • HUD20Targets20Protections20for20Homeless20Trans20People20-20Bloomberg.pdf

From: Department of Housing and Urban Development

Hello Ms. Crose, This is in response to your August 20, 2020, email for a status of your FOIA request 19-FI-HQ-02010. As was conveyed to you in the Department’sinitial acknowledgement letter, once HUD properly receives a FOIA request, theDepartment has 20 business days within which to make a determination on therequest unless unusual circumstances exist. Under unusual circumstances, HUDcan extend the 20-day time limit for processing a request. Currently, along with the present incoming FOIA requests, we arestill working to complete your FOIA request as well as all the other backloggedFOIA requests. In addition, y our request asksfor electronic communications and/or calendar entries of at least one HUDemployee. Your request requires utilization of the Department’s eDiscovery toolto search for responsive records. The Department’s eDiscovery tool iscontracted with a third-party that uses a system which auto-assigns acollection date on a first-in and first-out basis and is only capable ofcollecting records for a set number of custodians per day.  As a result,the Department does not maintain direct control over the collection process andcannot alter the scheduled collection date for a particular request. Given the high volume of requests for eDiscovery searches, the third-partysystem is operating at capacity with a significant backlog.  Once therecord collection has been completed, responsive records will be delivered tothe FOIA Branch for review.  At that time, we will work diligently tofinalize your request as quickly as possible. Your eDiscovery search requesthas been scheduled to begin October 22, 2020. Our effort is to provide responses to all FOIA requesterswho are still interested in receiving them. In doingso, w e must apply the Departments’ first in and first out FOIAprocedures, as there are many requests surrounding each other.  However,if you are still interested, I assure you that we will provide a response toyour request as soon as possible. Please, let me know, via email to me at yourearliest convenience, whether or not you are still interested in receiving aresponse to your Department of Housing and Urban Development FOIA request. You must confirm via email atwilliam.d.smith@hud.gov to me within 10 business days from the date of thisnotice that you want to continue with your request. If you do not confirm thatyou are still interested in receiving a response to your HUD FOIA requestwithin that time, your request will be administratively withdrawn. Please beadvised that such an action will not preclude you from filing this or otherrequests in the future. The Department apologizes for the delay in processing your FOIArequest. HUD has experienced changes that have contributed to a tremendousbacklog and extensive delays in the ability to process incoming requests in atimely manner and as stated, w e will work diligently to finalize yourrequest as quickly as possible. If you wish to modify your FOIA request for any reason at thistime, please send your request modification to me via my email address shownabove, at william.d.smith@hud.gov ,as soon as possible to enable the Department to initiate the process for anappropriate response to you. Also, you may contact the Office ofGovernment Information Services (OGIS) at the National Archives and RecordsAdministration to inquire about the FOIA mediation services they offer. The contact information for OGIS is as follows: Officeof Government Information Services National Archives and Records Administration 8601Adelphi Road-OGIS CollegePark, Maryland 20740-6001 Telephone: 202-741-5770, toll free at 1-877-684-6448 FAX:202- 741-5769 Email:at ogis@nara.gov If you decide to appeal, your appeal should include copies ofyour original request and this response, as well as a discussion of the reasonssupporting the appeal. The envelope should be plainly marked to indicate that itcontains a FOIA appeal and be addressed to: U.S. Department of Housing andUrban Development Attention:  FOIA Appeals Office of General Counsel Office of Ethics and Appeals LawDivision 451Seventh Street, SW, Suite 2130 Washington, DC 20410 Telephone:(202) 708-3815 Youmay also submit your appeal on line at: https://www.hud.gov/program_ offices/administration/foia/ foiaappealsor email at HUDFOIAappeasls@hud.gov .

From: Emily Crose

I'm not sure why I need to keep confirming with you that I'm still interested in this request. Just do it, please and stop trying to use an organization policy to sidestep your federally mandated FOIA responsibilities.

From: Department of Housing and Urban Development

Ditto the 8/20/2020 reply.

Sincerely,
William Smith
HUD Exec Sec/FOIA Branch
(202) 402-2141

From: Emily Crose

So will this request be answered, or not?

From: Department of Housing and Urban Development

Hello Ms. Crose,
Yes, your FOIA request will be answered as long as you are still interested in receiving a response the Department will provide a response. Also, your question is answered in the 8/20/2020 email to you forwarded below.

In addition, please keep in mind that the Department’s FOIA Branch staff does not conduct searches required to respond to FOIA request. The searches are conducted by the Department’s program office subject matter experts.

Sincerely,
William Smith
HUD Exec Sec/FOIA Branch
(202) 402-2141

From: Emily Crose

Yes, I am still interested in a response.

From: Department of Housing and Urban Development

Hello Ms. Crose

Your question is answered in the 8/20/2020 email forwarded to you below.

In addition, please keep in mind that the Department’s FOIA Branch staff does not conduct searches required to respond to FOIA request. The searches are conducted by the Department’s program office subject matter experts. As stated in the 8/20/2020 email to you forwarded below, the Department’s subject matter experts have scheduled 10/20/2020 to conduct a search for responses to your FOIA request.

Afterward the search has been concluded, the Department’s FOIA Branch staff will be notified to enable an update to you.

Sincerely,

William Smith
HUD Exec Sec/FOIA Branch
(202) 402-2141

From: Emily Crose

Hi, I'd like to know if there is an estimated time to completion on this request. Thank you.

-Emily

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