Well, this is a long-overdue update that I’m gonna break into two parts and back-date. This is the first part of that two-part update. For reference and transparency, it’s September 2, 2022 as I write this update about events that happened on April 1, 2022.
Remember how I said that I intentionally made the request extremely broad? Yeah, that came back to bite me in the ass.
Firstly, I received the acknowledgment letter. Fairly standard “we got your request” type verbiage, until we get about halfway through the letter and my request is labeled “complex.” The letter states that my request will take longer than 30 days because:
“• We reasonably expect that two or more CDC centers, institutes, and offices (C/I/Os) may have
• We reasonably expect to receive and review voluminous records in response to your request.
•We reasonably expect to consult with two or more C/I/O/s, or another HHS operating
division or another federal agency about your request.”
There was also a suggestion to tighten my scope, and conflicting information on my fee waiver request. One section reads: “You requested that we waive fees associated with processing your request, your request is granted…” but the section right after that reads “You requested that we waive fees associated with processing your request, your request is denied because it doesn’t meet the following criteria:
• You have failed to demonstrate that you disseminate information to the public.
• You have failed to provide enough information to warrant a waiver of fees.”
So, I don’t know about fees or anything like that at the moment. But, I digress. I’ll pay whatever they throw at me to get this info out.
The second letter I received was just a PDF entitled “BroadVague.pdf,” and this was when I knew I really was getting bitten in the ass. The letter notified me that I had “not submitted a proper FOIA request because [the] request lacks the specificity needed to assist the agency retrieve the information with a reasonable amount of effort” and instructed me to specify document types rather than just “records” with a stern warning that if revisions weren’t made, the case would be closed on May 2.
For reference, this was the initial request:
I am requesting copies of all: 1. records starting on Jan 20, 2021 that contain information
related to the CDC’s decision to remove the mask guidelines for vaccinated Americans on May
13, 2021. 2. communication (emails, internal memos, etc), starting on November 1, 2021, that
led to the development and implementation of the new COVID-19 Community Levels on March 4,
I saw how it could be too much to handle, and there was no way in hell I would let the case close without any answers, so, I got to work on revisions, with the help of my partner and a team of 4 of my colleagues and trusted friends. This was the final revised version I sent back with the changes bolded for clarity:
I am requesting copies of all: 1. scientific documents and communications (emails, internal memos/directives, reports, etc) starting on Jan 20, 2021, that contain information related to the CDC’s decision to remove the mask guidelines for vaccinated Americans on May 13, 2021. 2. communication (emails, internal memos/directives, reports, etc), starting on November 1, 2021, leading to the development and implementation of the new COVID-19 Community Levels on March 4, 2022.
So, I made it a little more specific. And now, we wait yet again. But, you don’t have to wait, because update #3, the second part of this broken-up update is available now here.
If you are a member of the press who would like to have me write an op-ed or have your organization work with me to shed light on these documents after I receive them, please email email@example.com with the subject line “CDC FOIA Press” and I’ll add you to my contact list for this project and send emails after I complete my review.
I can’t wait to see what all I get back! If you’re interested in keeping up with everything, follow me @derekischmitz on Twitter for short-form informal updates and threads once the info is received and through the “CDC FOIA Request” category on the site here for long-form updates and analysis.
I’m not in this for the $, but if you appreciate the work I’m doing and would like to tip me, you can find all that info here. You can also find links to my books and affiliate codes there, too! Or, if you know someone who may be interested in this, please share it with them. Thank you!
1 thought on “CDC FOIA Update #2”
[…] parts and back-date. This is the second part of that two-part update. The first part can be found here. For reference and transparency, it’s September 2, 2022 as I write this update about events […]
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