Monday, April 28, 2014

GSA demands over $10,000 for FOIA request

The General Services Administration is attempting to put one over again on those of us who care about the USCGC STORIS. I have received notification from GSA that my Freedom of Information Act request related to materials for the excessing and sale of the ship is $10,266.

Yes, $10,266 to receive documentation as we look to find some kind of an explanation for the who, how and why the nationally significant USCGC STORIS was allowed to be destroyed by the U.S. Federal Governm...ent, represented by the GSA and US Coast Guard with large supporting roles played by the EPA and Maritime Administration.

The letter for the payment request is here:

GSA claims it took 11 hours to look for the materials at $29 an hour which comes out to $319. They then claim it took an additional 323 hours at $29/hr to review the materials for a cost of $9,367. That means they are claiming that someone spent just over eight full 40-hour work weeks -- two months -- reviewing materials at $29 an hour. Then it’s another $580 in duplication costs, with the first 100 pages free.

Apparently GSA doesn’t know how to fill out its own paperwork either, as the charges aren’t listed and computed in the correct locations on the sheet and there is no description of what the duplication costs involved.

The worksheet is here:

I’ve been given 20 days by GSA to send them a check or pay by credit card or the request will be cancelled.

An appeal is underway with the Office of Government Information Services as GSA has issued a final denial of the request for the waiver of fees. There was nothing wrong with the request and it is my position that GSA is attempting to deter me from pursuing the materials by promising huge associated costs to secure the information.

Read about OGIS here:

I have contacted Carrie McGuire, the representative from OGIS who is handling the STORIS FOIA through GSA. Ms. McGuire has indicated that she has exchanged voicemail messages with the liaison at GSA but has not been successful in actually talking to someone at GSA. She said that she would request that GSA suspend the 20-day deadline while the matter is under review. How GSA responds remains to be seen.

It is my position as described in the original FOIA request that we are owed the information as all of the decision-making process associated with STORIS was essentially handled by GSA in secrecy. The associated decisions led to STORIS’ destruction and we are owed an explanation.

I will continue the effort to secure the information through the fee waiver. If payment is required, no funds from the STORIS Museum will be used for this purpose.

As far as the other FOIA requests:

MARAD: An email was sent to MARAD FOIA HQ Wednesday, March 5. I spoke with MARAD FOIA representative Andrew Larimore on Feb. 4 and he told me at that point he was compiling materials for STORIS and would be completed within a week or two. I have heard nothing since, hence the message sent March 5. Attempts to contact MARAD by phone were not successful as no one answered the phone and the voice mail system foiled my attempts to find a mailbox for Larimore.

US Coast Guard: As indicated earlier, the Coast Guard has sent a letter indicating that a search of the Office of Cutter Forces was conducted in December 2013 and they have no logs or maintenance records related to STORIS. Other requested materials have yet to be addressed.

It is my understanding that logbooks -- particularly deck logs -- as a matter of record go to various branches of the National Archives. Older logs for STORIS are located in Washington, DC. Newer logs are in Anchorage.

It is disingenuous of the Coast Guard to say they didn’t find logbooks at the Office of Cutter Forces since they wouldn’t be kept there. STORIS has also been decommissioned for seven years. But where are the maintenance records for things like yard availabilities and abatement projects? I’d like to hear from anyone who may know where these records are kept/sent.

Though STORIS is gone, we will keep working on this.

I believe we all want to know

1. who is responsible
2. how this was allowed to happen and
3. most important of all, WHY?
(Originally posted March 8, 2014)

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