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Foia And Timeline Expiration, Next Step Federal Court Suit


Capt.

Question

Hello All,

If you are like me, FOIA has been pretty much a joke all the way around. QTC Compensation and Pension Exams are now becoming very adversarial.

Below is an excerpt from the following link on FOIAs which show that many times the Veteran has no choice but to file in Federal Court and have the courts force the issue to grant. It is taken from an excellant article by Allan Robert Adler as "A Step by Step Guide to Using The FOIA"

However this to could be very time consuming and really again can be a problem with DUE PROCESS. I hate seeing so much beuracracy but it looks like its going to get worse before it gets better.

Please read what I have highlighted in red and if you choose to read the rest, I have posted the link for you. NEVER GIVE UP. God Bless, C.C.

The FOIA permits "any person" to request access to agency records.

In practice, this includes U.S. citizens, permanent resident aliens, and

foreign nationals, as well as corporations, unincorporated associations,

universities, and even state and local governments and members of

Congress.

How Quickly Will an Agency Respond?

-----------------------------------

The FOIA requires an agency to respond to an initial request within ten

working days and to an administrative appeal within twenty working days.

An agency may take an additional ten days to respond to either the initial

request or the administrative appeal in "unusual circumstances" involving

the agency's need to obtain records from field facilities; to process a

voluminous amount of separate and distinct records; or to consult with

either another agency or two or more of its own components having a

substantial interest in the request.

If the agency fails to comply within the applicable time limit

requirements, the requester is deemed to have exhausted his administrative

remedies and may seek satisfaction in federal court. In such a case,

however, if the agency can show that "exceptional circumstances" exist

and that it is exercising due diligence in responding to the request, the

court may retain jurisdiction and allow the agency additional time to

complete its review of the records.

In practice, however, most agencies take much longer than ten days to

release records. The courts have ruled that this is permissible so long as

they treat each request sequentially on a first come, first served basis.

Thus, agencies such as the FBI, CIA, or State Department can take months,

and sometimes years, to respond fully to a request. In such cases, the

agency will usually respond within two weeks with a form letter notifying

the requester that the request has been placed in line and will be

processed after a delay.

On What Grounds Can an Agency Deny a Request?

---------------------------------------------

An agency must provide records to a requester regardless of the identity

of the requester or the requester's purpose in seeking the records. It

must at so provide the records even if the requester can otherwise obtain

them from a non-government source, so long as the requested records are

"agency records" subject to the FOIA. The agency can refuse to disclose

them only when they fall within one of the nine specific statutory

exemptions from the FOIA's disclosure provisions under section 552(b) of

the law:

FOIA STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE to using the Freedom of Information Act by Allan Robert Adler ISBN 0-86.htm

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  • HadIt.com Elder

My experience is that the VA takes it's own sweet time in dealing with FOIA and privacy act requests. They still have not responded to certain specific requests I made more tha two years ago. Some years before, I was lucky enough to actually get (for the VA) a fairly rapid response that actually did provide the records I requested. This was prior to the 08 shredding fiasco.

One of the more memorable federal shredding events that I remember took place in the 1990s. DOD/USAF decided from on high that certain historical records were to be disposed of post haste, in an effort to reduce the costs associated with keeping them. At the time I was working in a USAF program office that had the responsibility for certain B-52 electronic systems. Just a few days after we accomplished the ordered disposal of records, The AF historians showed up wanting them to use in generating a detailed and partially classified documented history of the aircraft. They were quite disappointed, to say the least.

Document disposal was actually the least of our concerns, in that Congress had decreed that twice the number of B-52s were to be kept "operational", without providing the funding for the necessary spare parts, etc. to do so. While Congress was doing this, the AF was disposing of "unneeded" spares, based upon much lower numbers of operational aircraft than Congress had decreed. Even worse, brand new spare parts, rather than just wornout, damaged, or unrepairable parts were disposed of to meet the requirements. The parts disposed of ranged from common mil spec electronic components to complete assemblies that were no longer obtainable, or due to various reasons, could not be manufactured, even "for a price".

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First I need to state that the delays are criminal!

But here is the RUB. If we are requesting records using FOIA, we can be billed for the cost of the agency to produce those records (time and individual copy costs). The FOIA time limits apply. However, the vast majority of us are asking for records under the privacy act. Under the privacy act, the government cannot bill the individual for the labor costs for locating and copying the records, they can however charge for the actual cost of the copy(currently in my experience the VA has not tried to recoupe this). Under privacy act thier are no statutory time lines.

As usual, the VA has some cover for their poor performance. If we push for the timeline constraints and demand FOIA deadlines, they can hit us with FOIA fees. Even with the fees, it will go into a stack and wait in line.

Best regards,

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Hello 71, Chuck and Dean,

Exactly. They take their time and do not act within the required legal period. And as shown on Ebenefits my FOIA shows up as a claim ...... again that is Criminal in itself.

I know that you can request a waiver for fees if they should charge the Veteran and I have done this but you have to be able to get what you actually requested.

I know Philip Rogers posted alittle on FOIA and has actually received some documents but for some reason the VA likes Philip better than me,,,,,,LOL.

Anyway even with FOIA the Veteran must NEVER GIVE UP. God Bless, C.C.

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