Public Comments Submitted by Robert Hammond on March 24, 2021
(Best viewed as HTML)
PUBLIC COMMENT, FOIA ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETING
VIOLATIONS OF THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT IN FOIA REDACTIONS
Please post and address as a topic for the next meeting the following comments:
Past FOIA Advisory Committee meetings have discussed the need for Americans with Disabilities Act Section 308 Compliance and recommended seeking additional funds from Congress.
In a more basic matter that is a serious problem and requires no additional funding whatsoever, multiple agencies, including DOD, DOJ and EPA continue to issue redactions to documents that do not comport with the FOIA or the ADA with respect to contrast, color and font.
In just one of many examples, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) the United States Marshall's Service released a redacted record, "PDF USMS_Redacted." That record (USMS_Redacted) wrt contrast, color, and font, contains redactions in Arial 5.5-point, red font against a black background, violating all three.
- It also was not produced as a searchable PDF document, also in violation of the ADA. The ADA violations suppressed my rights under the FOIA.
- I am red/green color blind and cannot read the redactions citations.
- In producing PDF Documents, Adobe software checks for ADA componence.
In a recent similar case involving EPA, after I appealed EPA’s similar redactions that did not comport with the ADA and the FOIA, EPA issued a revised document for the “closed” FOIA request without the Appellate Authority granting my appeal of the non-complaint initial determination (which is an adverse action under FOIA). This will result in false FOIA reporting to the Attorney General of the United States. The Appellate Authority must first grant my appeal and remand it for further response; then the Agency (EPA) must account for the processing time of the remand (per DOJ’s Handbook for Annual FOIA Reporting). See foiaonline.gov, EPA-2021-002817 Appeal, EPA-2021-001053 Request.
I have provided DOJ OIP multiple similar examples involving DOD.
DOJ's Office of Information Policy has responsibility for FOIA compliance (as does OGIS). DOJ could easily issue guidance to Agencies to stop this non-compliant practice. I have forwarded DOJ OIP numerous examples, yet DOJ OIP has not yet taken any action nor provided me case numbers to my compliance inquires ('OIP.Compliancelnquiry@usdoj.
- FOIA Advisory Committee adopt a recommendation for DOJ OIP to respond to my FOIA Requester Compliance Inquiries and for DOJ to issue guidance regarding this matter.
- Track this matter until DOJ issues guidance.
With my respect,