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Tag Archive: Correspondence

FOIA on a Floppy

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Here's a picture of the most recent addition to the stack of FOIA clutter on my desk.

Luckily, Bill's computer still has a floppy drive so we could read the word document sent to us on a 3.5-inch diskette by the Department of Transportation. Responses to our FOIA request for congressional correspondence logs from Transportation have been trickling in slowly because each agency within the department has been replying separately.

The Department of Transportation is not the only government entity that's technologically challenged. The list is long. But the two responses we have received from the ...

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OALJ correspondence log now online

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It took a little longer than I thought it would (in part because I was also doing other things, in part because I kept letting the full content of the documents disctract me) to create the it, but here, attached, is a log of correspondence from members of Congress to the Office of Administrative Law Judges of the U.S. Department of Labor covering the months of January and February: OALJ Log.

When Anu and I started this project, our sense was and still is that constituents should be aware of what members of Congress do in Washington. In addition ...

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Air Force Logs of Correspondence

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We received a response from the Air Force yesterday for the congressional correspondence logs, both for our first request, for logs in January and February, and the second, for March.

After reading the list, I emailed the Air Force and asked for copies of some of the letters and responses for some on the list. On the March list, there a bunch of letters written by members of Congress to the Secretary of the Air Force regarding the CSAR-X contract given to Boeing. (That's the same issue that McCain wrote the Air Force about.) Although it ...

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DOD misinterpreted the FOIA

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A couple of days ago I followed up with DOD about why they denied our FOIA for correspondence logs earlier. Their denial was based on the fact that the records were too large and they wanted us to narrow our request. On talking to them I figured that DOD officials had interpreted our FOIA to include all documents and not just the logs of correspondences. So, they agreed to re-open our FOIA based on this clarification.

Unfortunately, other Agencies have also been misinterpreting out FOIAs, assuming we are asking for copies of the letters and not just the logs.

So ...

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Two Replies and Conversations with FOIA Officers

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Today, we received a reply to our correspondence logs FOIA from USAID as an excel spreadsheet. This is only the second time we have gotten a reply in a format that can be uploaded and used to fulfill our goal of making the logs searchable using keywords. Here are the two replies we have received so far: from EPA(.xls) and USAID (.xls).

Just a quick update on how things are moving along: I've been asking FOIA officers from SBA, FERC and FTC to give us the logs in an electronic format and not as print outs. Although, as ...

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The Paper Chase

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For the past couple of hours I have been trying to get my hands on a letter that Senator McCain wrote to Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne on April 4 about requesting documents related to the Combat Search and Rescue helicopter program.

According to a Reuters report, Senator McCain has questioned an Air Force decision giving Boeing contracts worth about $15 billion under the program.

On calling the Senator's office I was told by the press spokeswoman, Melissa Sheffield that they don't release these letters to the press." She added that I could get it from the Air ...

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SBA Doesn’t Maintain Correspondence Logs

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It seems that there's no standard way for government agencies to maintain logs of correspondence.

I had sent a FOIA to the Small Business Administration offices in Washington D.C. for their logs of congressional correspondence. SBA forwarded the request to all of its regional offices and departments--they don't maintain a central log of correspondence. So in the past few days I have received more than a dozen acknowledgement letters and emails from SBA's regional offices.

Unfortunately, SBA is not is a position to consolidate the material and give us one final response. Essentially, each of the ...

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Does the DoD use searchable databases?

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Reading over the letter that Anu got back from Will Klammer of the Department of Defense's Office of Freedom of Information, I'm beginning to get a sense that this project--obtaining logs of the correspondence that members of Congress send to all federal agencies--may be even more difficult than I originally thought. This sentence particularly jumps out:

After reviewing your request carefully, we have determined that your request as presently written, since it would appear to apply to all 535 Members of Congress, is much too broad to enable this Office to conduct an adequate' and effective search for ...

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DoD Denies Our FOIA

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We received a reply from the Department of Defense's Office of the Secretary of Defense and Joint Staff yesterday turning down the FOIA request we sent them for congressional correspondence logs. The reason given was that the request as presently written, since it would appear to apply to all 535 Members of Congress, is much too broad to enable this Office to conduct an adequate and effective search for responsive records."

Although other offices and agencies within DoD indicated that responding to our FOIAs could take a while, none had so far turned us down. We've gotten acknowledgement ...

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