Aysha Khan

Filed a PIA request at a public university in Texas for transactions between a number of federal agencies and the university. Even though I’ve found some links between them – a couple announcements of grants from one of the agency to university researchers and professors, etc – the public information officer sent me the following:

“After a diligent search of the University’s records, no information could be found responsive to your request. Please contact this office if we can be of further assistance.”

I’m a total newbie to the FOIA/PIA game, and while I was prepared to battle exorbitant costs and redactions, I’m not quite sure where to go from here. Any suggestions for how to follow up?

Jack R-W

Can you show us how you worded the request?

Aysha Khan

We are requesting electronic copies (or paper copies for any records not stored electronically) of the following, for the past six years:

(1) Contracts, grants, partnership agreements and MOUs [$XXXX]or greater with [XXXXXXX government agencies], their agents or contractors. This agreement includes on-campus and off-campus relationships as well as public-private partnerships and joint ventures with the university, its representatives or its affiliates, University Affiliated Research Centers (UARCs), Federally Funded Research, Development Centers (FFRDCs) and Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE) (2) Documents describing the scope of work or research for agreements in (1) (3) Addendums, attachments, amendments or extensions to agreements in (1) (4) Records of funds received from or under agreements with [XXXXXXX government agencies], their agents or their contractors. (5) [XXXXXXX] (6) Any centralized databases, spreadsheets or lists of federal contracts and grants maintained by the university. This request includes all releasable fields and records in the spreadsheet or database. If easier/faster for your institution to provide, we will limit our request in (6) to databases or spreadsheets of contracts and grants with the agencies listed in (1). (7) If you have or are releasing some or all of this information under prior public records requests, I would request that you provide those records immediately.

Jack R-W

I’m very surprised they denied this. You might want to try to get the processing notes for this request to see their justification, because if you are right and the university does have a partnership with an agency, then their reply would obviously be false, and most records officers at least try to comply with the law.

Have you tried sending a FOIA to the agencies, as well?


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