WMADA

Joseph Uchill filed this request with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority of Washington, DC.
Tracking #

19-0065

Status
Rejected

Communications

From: Joseph Uchill


To Whom It May Concern:

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

Contracts to advertise at Red, Orange, Blue and Green line stops since 2014.

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 15 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Joseph Uchill

From: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

Dear Mr. Uchill:

This provides a partial response and requires that you narrow the scope of your February 27, 2019, Public Access to Records Policy (PARP) request for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) records. Specifically, you requested the contracts to advertise at Red, Orange, Blue, and Green Line stops since 2014.

Please be advised that while your request references the D.C. Freedom of Information Act (DC FOIA), WMATA is an interstate compact agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia, State of Maryland, and the District of Columbia, and not a D.C. agency. See Pub. L. No. 89-774, 80 Stat. 1324 (1966); Va. Code Ann. § 33.2-3100; Md. Code Ann., Transp. § 10-204; D.C. Code Ann. § 9-1107.1). Accordingly, we are not subject to the D.C. FOIA. See D.C. Code § 9-1107.1 Section 77.

However, WMATA is processing your request pursuant to its Public Access to Records Policy (PARP), which is available online at https://www.wmata.com/about/records/public-records.cfm, under the section marked "Legal Affairs."

Partial Decision

As a sample, please find attached 2 of our contractor's Advertiser Agreements (2 pages), which were processed in response to a previous PARP request.

Pursuant to PARP Exemption 6.1.4 (confidential commercial information) and 6.1.5 (WMATA's qualified privilege), WMATA has redacted the names of advertisers and the contractor's pricing information and special instructions because we have determined that the release of this information would put OUTFRONT Media at a competitive disadvantage by allowing its competitors to potentially lure clients away by specifically targeting those clients and undercutting OUTFRONT Media's rates, and could jeopardize WMATA's contractual relationship with OUTFRONT, and WMATA's revenue stream from this contract. See Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Export-Import Bank, 108 F.Supp. 2d 28, 29 -30 (D.D.C. 2000); Federal Open Market Committee v. Merrill, 443 U.S. 340, 363 (1979); Greenberg v. Food and Drug Adm'n, 803 F.2d 1213, 1216 (D.C. Cir. 1986)(customer lists are considered confidential proprietary information). Additionally, release of this information could potentially hurt OUTFRONT Media's relationships with its clients, who may not wish the amounts they spend on media to be publicized, as they often are competitors with each other, which could further jeopardize WMATA's relationship with its contractor and may impair WMATA's ability to obtain information from its contractor in the future. Finally, WMATA also applied PARP Exemption 6.1.6 (personal privacy) as a basis for redacting the names, contact information, and other identifying information of third party individuals, where the privacy interest outweighs the public interest in this information.

Burdensome/Requirement to Narrow

WMATA has determined that processing your request would be overly burdensome; therefore, we require that you narrow it in order for it to be processed. We estimate that your request could generate approximately 5,000 pages and take over 100 hours to retrieve and review.

Additionally, please note that WMATA would be required to manually review each agreement to determine if it relates to the Red, Orange, Blue, and Green line, which requires additional processing time.

The courts have recognized that an agency need not honor a request that is unreasonably burdensome. See Nation Magazine v. United States Customs Serv., 71 F.3d 885, 891-92 (D.C. Cir. 1995); American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2782 v. U.S. Dep't of Commerce, 907 F.2d 203, 208-09 (D.C. Cir. 1990). It is the requester's responsibility to frame requests that are not so broad as to impose an unreasonable burden on the agency. The FOIA, upon which the PARP is patterned, was not intended to reduce government agencies to full-time investigators on behalf of requesters to the detriment of their main mission. See Brophy v. United States Department of DOD, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11620 (D.D.C. Mar. 8, 2006), citing Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Export-Import Bank, 108 F. Supp. 2d 19, 27 (D.D.C. 2000), quotations and citations omitted.

We require that you narrow your request, so we can process it in the most efficient and economical way. For example, you can narrow the request by significantly limiting the requested timeframe, and eliminating search criteria related to location. Please narrow your request within 10 business days, by Thursday, March 28, 2019, or your request will be closed.

Additionally, below is additional general information regarding your request:

Time Period for Processing Requests

WMATA generally aims to respond to a request for records within 20 business days following receipt of the request. However, requests are processed in the order they are received. Furthermore, additional processing time is required for requests that prove to be complex, such as your request. Specifically, please be advised that your records request may include records submitted to WMATA by a third party, which requires us to contact the third party to identify confidential and proprietary information. WMATA will not release any records until it has made a decision with respect to any such assertions made by the third party.

Exemptions

The PARP provides exemptions for certain types of data, including: (1) information that could compromise WMATA infrastructure or security; (2) information that is solely related to the internal personnel rules and practices; (3) information that is exempt by statute; (4) proprietary commercial or financial information; (5) internal deliberations on policy matters or attorney-client privileged communications; (6) information that, if released, would cause a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy; (7) certain information compiled for law enforcement purposes; (8) registered SmarTrip® information; and (9) customer financial information. Generally, WMATA's response will not include any exempt information.

Processing Fees

The PARP also provides for the assessment of fees associated with a request that requires more than two hours of staff time to process. These fees are calculated at the employees' basic rate of pay, plus an additional 50 percent to cover benefits, for the time spent responding to a request. In general, a request is considered an agreement to pay all applicable fees. Advance payment is required where the fees are likely to exceed $250. Should this request generate fees in excess of $250, we will inform you and require prepayment before we process the request.

Request for a Public Interest Fee Waiver

You have stated that the records you are seeking "will be made available to the general public, and that your request is not for commercial purposes. WMATA has interpreted your request as a request for a public interest fee waiver. However, you have not provided WMATA with sufficient information to make such a determination. If you would like to be considered for a public interest fee waiver, please submit the following additional information to allow us to evaluate that request:

1. Describe how the records requested will be used in your research.

1. Describe how you intend to disseminate these records to the public, and how broad an audience you anticipate the disclosure will receive.

1. Describe your expertise in matters associated with these records, and how you are actively involved in disseminating information to the public.

1. Describe any commercial or profit interest that you have in these records, and how this commercial interest, if any, compares to the public interest described by your previous answers.

If we do not receive this additional information within 10 business days - by Thursday, March 28, 2019, we will categorize you as a commercial requester for fee categorization purposes.
Please be advised that if you do not narrow your overly burdensome request as explained above, by March 28, 2019, your request will be closed regardless of your classification for fee purposes.

Appeal Rights

If you wish to appeal WMATA's decision, in accordance with PARP § 9.1, you may file a written appeal of the action with the Chief of External Relations, Barbara Richardson, at brichardson@wmata.com<mailto:brichardson@wmata.com>, within 30 business days of the date of this decision letter. Further details about our appeals process can be found on our website.

Future correspondence should reference the PARP request number noted above. If you have any legal questions, please contact me at BRashbaum@wmata.com<mailto:BRashbaum@wmata.com> or 202-962-1926. With respect to any administrative questions, please contact Richard Noh at rdnoh@wmata.com<mailto:rdnoh@wmata.com> or 202-962-2569.

Sincerely,

Benjamin Rashbaum

Benjamin Rashbaum
Associate Counsel
WMATA
600 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
P: 202-962-1926
F: 202-962-2550
E: BRashbaum@wmata.com<mailto:BRashbaum@wmata.com>

This transmission is intended only for the proper recipient(s). It is confidential and may contain attorney-client privileged information or information prepared in anticipation of litigation. If you are not the proper recipient, please notify the sender immediately and delete this message. Any unauthorized review, copying, or use of this message is prohibited.

  • PARP 19-0065 Sample of Outfront Advertiser Agreements_Redacted

From: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

Dear Mr. Uchill:

As you did not narrow your request by the deadline below - March 28, 2019 -- your request has been closed.

If you wish to appeal WMATA's decision, in accordance with PARP § 9.1 and Privacy Policy § 7.5, you may file a written appeal of the action with the Chief of External Relations, Barbara Richardson, at BRichardson@wmata.com<mailto:BRichardson@wmata.com>, within 30 business days of the date of this decision letter. Further details about our appeals process can be found on our website.

Sincerely,

Benjamin Rashbaum

This transmission is intended only for the proper recipient(s). It is confidential and may contain attorney-client privileged information or information prepared in anticipation of litigation. If you are not the proper recipient, please notify the sender immediately and delete this message. Any unauthorized review, copying, or use of this message is prohibited.

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  • PARP 19-0065 Sample of Outfront Advertiser Agreements_Redacted