Only in DC – FOIA Bake Sale Sunday

justice
Photo by PoPville flickr user Miki J.

From the Hill East Listserv and ANC Rep. Denise Krepp:

“Proceeds from the sale will be given to the Department of Justice to offset the costs associated with providing us with prosecution data for every ward in the city for the past five years.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is charging $40 an hour to find this information. Hopefully, they can find this information quickly. Too many crimes are occurring on Capitol Hill and only a small percentage of individuals involved in these crimes are being prosecuted. As residents of Capitol Hill, we deserve to know why this occurring.

FOIA Cakes

Bake Sale

December 13, 2015
1-4pm

Eastern Market
(next to Port City Java)

Events DC has donated two tickets to a Georgetown University men’s basketball game

We will be raffling off these tickets at the bake sale

Dangerously Delicious Pies will be donating 10% of pie sales on December 13th to the FOIA fund”

12 Comment

  • The phrasing makes it sound like they’re donating this money to DOJ. It would probably sound better if they said “funds raised will help offset DOJ fees.”

    • Regardless, it’s very sad that we can’t see prosecution stats for the District without having to pay them.

  • Do you really have to pay for a FOIA request? I’ve never heard of this.

  • How many hours did the DOJ estimate it would take them to find this information and how much do you need to raise? In the FOIA requests I have been a part of, the estimated time and price are given.

    • Assuming they were placed in the correct requester category, they should also be getting two hours of free search time, no charge at all for review time, and 100 pages of free photocopies of the records.

      And, most likely, these fees should be zero. If the DOJ is as slow as most federal agencies (i.e. this request has been pending for more than 20 business days), then all the search fees should be waived. (The 2014 DOJ Annual FOIA report indicates that the average processing time for even “simple” requests is almost 30 days). And, if the requester asks that the records be delivered electronically, then there is no fees for photocopies either. (And really, there is no way that the responsive records should total more than 100 total pages anyway.)

    • In a different email, the price quoted is $1000

  • As a Fed myself, who has had to develop the time estimates for FOIA requests- I can tell you that how you structure the request can have a major impact on how long it takes to execute and how much it costs you to obtain. You might take a look at what you submitted and try to refine the request a bit to drive that cost down.

  • binntp

    A side question: Has anyone ever FOIAed themselves? As someone who used to work in a country that had strained diplomatic ties with the US, I’ve often wondered what, if anything, the feds have got on me.

    • Interesting. Which agency would you contact?

      • binntp

        I don’t even know! NSA maybe? FBI? I am totally clean and have no objectionable contacts/history, but I could see where a few things might be flagged since I didn’t work for official government agencies when I did them (e.g., travel to Iran for a non-US int’l agency).

    • I was under the impression that with a FOIA request you need to specify to some extent what records you are looking for and from which department. So it’s not like Googling yourself where you just say “hey government, tell me everything you know about me.” I think you have to be quite a bit more specific than that.

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