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 ...Continue reading
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 ...Continue reading
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 ...Continue reading
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 ...Continue reading
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 ...Continue reading
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
Unfortunately, SBA is not is a position to consolidate the material and give us one final response. Essentially, each of the ...Continue reading
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 ...Continue reading
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 ...Continue reading
My first two weeks working on the real time project has involved sending out FOIA requests to as many as 80 federal agencies. We are asking for logs of correspondence between members of Congress and each agency. Most of them have been via e-mail or online forms and around 25 others via regular mail.
Since this is going to be a monthly feature, I was hoping that FOIA officers would send us the data at the end of every month, but that seems increasingly unlikely after a few conversations I've had with FOIA officers at the Environmental Protection Agency ...Continue reading