Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Email sent to CG Commandant, Chief Counsel and FOIA HQ re: STORIS appeal

On June 28, 2014, I sent in an appeal to the U.S. Coast Guard related to the Freedom of Information Act request that I had submitted on Nov. 4, 2013, right after STORIS was illegally exported to Mexico.

I have heard nothing in response.

The appeal is here:

So, I sent out an email to ask what the Coast Guard is doing about the appeal and for other documents that GSA and MARAD have sent to CG FOIA HQ for review and release.

First on the recipient list is Commandant Paul Zukunft. Second recipient list is RADM Steven D. Poulin, chief counsel for the CG. Also on the recipient list are the FOIA HQ, Amanda Ackerson, the civilian FOIA representative with whom I had correspondence re: STORIS and Nikki Gramian of the Office of Government Information Services, a branch of the National Archives that is supposed to mediate FOIA issues.

The text of the email is as follows:

Dear ADM Zukunft, RADM Poulin and staff of the FOIA division of the U.S. Coast Guard-

I am writing to you in regard to the attached Freedom of Information Act appeal submitted to the U.S. Coast Guard over one year ago (June 28, 2014) for which I have received no acknowledgement or response.

This FOIA was in regard to records related to the USCGC STORIS (WMEC-38). The original circumstances of the appeal are disappointing enough, but to then have to go a year without a response adds further insult to those of us who are rightfully seeking answers as to how STORIS could be allowed to be excessed and exported for scrapping in Mexico in violation of federal law.

There are also outstanding FOIA matters related to interagency communications with the General Services Administration and the U.S. Maritime Administration. This involves documents that have been referred by these agencies to U.S. Coast Guard for review and release for FOIA requests that I have submitted to those agencies. I am wondering where these documents are in the FOIA review process of USCG.

I would appreciate a response to the appeal, considering that, again, it's been over a year with no response.

Your attention and cooperation with this matter is greatly appreciated.


Jon A. Ottman
on behalf of the STORIS Museum of Juneau, Alaska (dissolved 2014)
and The Last Patrol Museum of Toledo, Ohio

as well as the veterans and supporters of the USCGC STORIS

I will update if.when I hear anything. A year is inexcusable.

EPA is next. It was a year for them in MAY.


Response received early on the afternoon of July 9:

Dear Mr. Ottman
Your appeal letter of June 24, 2014, regarding FOIA 2014-0556, was received by this office on June 28, 2014, and assigned FOIA appeal number A2014-025.
Your appeal is currently under appellate review within the Office of Information Management Programs and Policy (CG-611).
Due to the time-intensive, but necessary, review procedures, we cannot accurately estimate when your appeal will be decided; however, please be assured we will provide you with a decision as soon as possible.
In the event you have future questions regarding your appeal, please reference FOIA appeal A2014-025 and send you correspondence to:
Commandant (CG-611)
Attn: FOIA Officer
U.S. Coast Guard Stop 7710
2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20593-7710
Michael Maher
U.S. Coast Guard FOIA Appeals Coordinator
Office of Information Management Programs and Policys (sic)

I later received this email: 

Good afternoon Mr. Ottman,
On behalf of Admiral Zukunft, please accept our apologies for the lengthy delay in responding to your appeal. We will continue to work to improve our responsiveness to the public on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) inquiries to avoid situations like that encountered in your case.
I have spoken to our FOIA Appeal Officer, Mr. Maher, as well as our legal advisor, Captain John Luce, and both are committed to ensuring you receive a reply on this matter in the near future. We understand your desire for transparency and will ensure we consider your appeal fairly and equitably under the law and policy.
We appreciate your interest in gathering information for the distinguished crewmembers of STORIS and maritime supporters throughout the country.
Have a good afternoon sir.
Executive Assistant to the Commandant

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