Sunday, April 27, 2014

US Coast Guard drags out response to FOIA, claims "overly broad"

A Freedom of Information Act Request was sent to the U.S. Coast Guard for records related to USCGC STORIS on November 4, in addition to the FOIAs sent to GSA, MARAD, and the EPA. 

Three weeks passed with no acknowledgement from the Coast Guard, so I contacted by phone the Coast Guard FOIA office.

At that point, I spoke with Amanda Ackerson, a civilian in the FOIA department. She indicated that there was no record of my FOIA. She told me that she would have to look for it. After a few moments, she indicated that she found record of my submission and that I would have to wait until it was assigned to a coordinator for review.

Later that afternoon, I received an  acknowledgement from Ms Ackerson by email that the FOIA had been officially recognized as submitted to the CG. However, the rest of the email then went into verbiage that the request was overly broad and would have to be made more specific in order to be fulfilled. I was given 30 days to respond or it would be assumed by USCG that I was abandoning my request.

The acknowledgement from CG FOIA is here, along with the original FOIA submission:

I submitted a written response on December 8 by email and sent a copy by US Postal Service Certified Mail. That is here:

The appeal was courtesy copied to staff members of Senators Mark Begich (AK), Sherrod Brown (OH) and Representatives Marcy Kaptur and Bob Latta of Ohio. It is unknown whether these staff members acted on any of the information shared with them.

In response to the appeal, I received an email message from Amanda Ackerson on December 11 indicating that CG would proceed.

I have heard nothing from Coast Guard since.

I sent an email on Feb. 4, 2014 requesting an update. This was three months to the day that the original FOIA request had been submitted. Again, nothing.

The December 11 response, my acknowledgement and the February 4 email are here:

I left a phone message at 3:43 p.m. this afternoon (Feb. 19) for Amanda Ackerson and I am awaiting a response.

(Originally posted Feb. 19, 2014) 

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