Bubbling about in the blogs are various threads about FOIA requests, mostly at this time to the University of Virginia which is pursuing a different strategy to clear our the underbrush, specifically they are going to charge full costs for dealing with any of the vexatious FOIA requests that they get.
Rick Piltz has a post on Climate Science Watch about a letter to UVA from the American Association of University Professors, the Virginia ACLU, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and a bunch of others, including Rick. Judy Curry is tsking about Tim Ball being sued by Michael Mann, and the subject came up, came up, came up. . . featuring a request from Greenpeace for Pat Michaels correspondence and various requests for the letters of Michael Mann (he should auction them on Ebay).
For filling out the check, you get their word that they will look at all the Emails they have to or from Pat Michaels, Michael Mann or your faculty member of the month. Of course, they have an interesting couple of paragraphs in the Virginia Freedom of Information Act to rely on
In any case where a public body determines in advance that charges for producing the requested records are likely to exceed $200, the public body may, before continuing to process the request, require the requester to agree to payment of a deposit not to exceed the amount of the advance determination. The deposit shall be credited toward the final cost of supplying the requested records.and even if they find something, there is lots that they do not have to turn over, including everything associated with research
The following records are excluded from the provisions of this chapter but may be disclosed by the custodian in his discretion, except where such disclosure is prohibited by law: . . . .
4. Data, records or information of a proprietary nature produced or collected by or for faculty or staff of public institutions of higher education, other than the institutions’ financial or administrative records, in the conduct of or as a result of study or research on medical, scientific, technical or scholarly issues, whether sponsored by the institution alone or in conjunction with a governmental body or a private concern, where such data, records or information has not been publicly released, published, copyrighted or patented.
and any information related to grants (which are business operations)
5. All records of the University of Virginia or the University of Virginia Medical Center or Eastern Virginia Medical School, as the case may be, that contain proprietary, business-related information pertaining to the operations of the University of Virginia Medical Center or Eastern Virginia Medical School, as the case may be, including business development or marketing strategies and activities with existing or future joint venturers, partners, or other parties with whom the University of Virginia Medical Center or Eastern Virginia Medical School, as the case may be, has formed, or forms, any arrangement for the delivery of health care, if disclosure of such information would be harmful to the competitive position of the Medical Center or Eastern Virginia Medical School, as the case may be.UVa's timeline is full of splendid deadpan
Kert Davies and James Trowbridge, Greenpeace, Washington, D.C., request a list of grants and all correspondence from or to Patrick Michaels and S. Fred Singer on global climate change and a wide range of subjects.and on the other side
U.Va. responds to Greenpeace request and estimates the costs to provide these records would be at least $3,500.
Greenpeace narrows its request and suggests U.Va. provide "unfiltered" emails.
U.Va. responds to Greenpeace request with detailed explanation of costs, attaches requested Michaels CV and list of grants. U.Va. also responds that "unfiltered" e-mails could contain information exempt from disclosure under state or federal law.
Christopher C. Horner, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C., requests extensive records concerning U.Va.'s FOIA procedures;
After confirming his Virginia residency, the University responds to Horners request and estimates that a substantive response to his request would take a lot of time and estimates the cost for these records would be at least $35,000.UVa's letter contains this treasure
We note that CEI’s request for documents from professor Keene expressly includes “e-mail” while CEI’s request for documents from professors Galloway and Wiberg does not. We presume this is a typographical error and our estimate in this letter includes a search for responsive and non-exempt e-mail of professors Galloway and Wiberg. Please let us know, however, if CEI’s omission of “e-mail” from these two requests was intentional.The UVa legal office may be enjoying this.
For your information, the most effective means to reduce costs generally is to reduce the number of University custodians from whom you seek records. The next most helpful cost-reduction method is the reduction or elimination of more generic key-word criteria.