FOIA Roundup: The USPS COVID mask plan, NY AG on FOIL denials, and more from public records

FOIA Roundup: The USPS COVID mask plan, NY AG on FOIL denials, and more from public records

MuckRock’s weekly roundup from the Freedom of Information news

Written by
Edited by Michael Morisy

In this week’s roundup, we highlight the latest finds from federal FOIA releases and the Postal Service, plus a new FOI law and frustration with denials in New York.

For previous roundups, go here. Have news, a FOIA job opening, or something else we should have on our radar? Let us know!

“Five masks for every person” plan scrapped in the spring

Materials released to American Oversight and reviewed by The Washington Post show that the U.S. Postal Service had been involved in a plan early in the U.S. COVID response to send five masks to every American. Read more from Tony Romm, Jacob Bogage and Lena H. Sun in The Washington Post.

NY AG urges that record denials better be backed the truth

FOIA requesters are used to being skeptical when an agency claims there are no responsive records that can be shared, but the New York Attorney General Letitia recently said that she would consider pushing for greater penalties when an agency improperly issues a blanket denial of a request when there are actually disclosable records. The statement came as part of a discussion around the Daniel Prude case in Rochester, where body camera footage was withheld from the family for months. Read more from WROC.

Census? More like “Senseless,” Bureau workers say.

A FOIA request filed by Reveal in March for contracts between the Census Bureau and Pegasystems, the company that created the app being used by census takers, remains unfulfilled, even as the Census enters its final stretch and concerns remain that the app’s glitches will affect the final count. Read more from Will Carless and David Rodriguez in Reveal.

Summertime delays by USPS affected even the states least affected by COVID

Policy changes affecting the U.S. Postal Service caused delays in mail delivery nationwide, including in Maine, where data recently released through a records request show that there was a statewide delay in delivery times compared to last summer. Read more from Jessica Piper in The Bangor Daily News.

More transparency for a tribal nation

Over the summer, the Council of the Muscogee Creek Nation voted to pass a Freedom of Information law to increase transparency of the tribal government. Read more from Angel Ellis and Mvskoke Media.

March concerns for meatpacking plants, early hotspot for COVID cases, were mostly on how to keep them open.

Emails released in response to a FOIA request show that a lot of conversation in March between operators and the U.S. Department of Agriculture focused on how to keep the facilities open. Read more from Michael Grabell and Bernice Yeung in Mother Jones.

Win FOIA prizes and demand Treasury transparency in our latest collaboration with the Center for Public Integrity!

How did massive amounts of government money end up in the pockets of corporations and rich Americans during Trump’s presidency? We go inside the system to find out in ‘The Heist,’ a new Center for Public Integrity podcast.

Enter the contest and subscribe to the podcast, and your name will be added on as a co-signatory to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, submitted by the Center for Public Integrity through MuckRock, seeking further details about how trillions of dollars of tax breaks for America’s richest corporations and individuals came to pass, as well as the fallout when America was hit by the pandemic. Read more about it here.

Image via Pope Moysuh