FS Office of Communication Investigation FOIA Request

For those not following the missing, but now found, Forest Service employee contact information (started as a post by Andy Stahl and most recently updated here), Billy Schneider sent this in. While relevant to that thread, it also seemed interesting on its own. Here’s the link he sent and below is an excerpt.

This is a FOIA request related to the USDA Forest Service’s Office of the Chief, Office of Communication, Misconduct Investigation that was launched in 2013 and specifically the report that was produced from the investigation.

We all understand the sensitivity of releasing such reports which contain information protected by privacy laws. However, members of USDA’s legal counsel can, I’m sure, find an appropriate balance between privacy and the public’s right to know.

Regarding a similar misconduct matter, here’s a quote from a DOD IG spokeswoman who explained the balancing act between privacy and the public’s right to know. “Because such investigations involve information that may address the privacy concerns of the subject as well as witnesses and persons interviewed, reports of investigations frequently must be redacted extensively prior to release to the public. It has been the long standing practice of our office to release these reports in response to FOIA requests.”

Note the last line that, “It has been the long standing practice of our office to release these reports in response to FOIA requests.” Things should be no different at USDA.

Quote source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/in-the-loop/wp/2013/11/07/smokey-bear-says-only-you-can-prevent-government-officials-misconduct/

He’s also requesting a count of veterans employed in the office.

7 Comments

  1. I doubt the missing-now-restored employee directory has anything to do with any misconduct investigation (if there is one) within the WO Office of Communications.

    What I do know is that Leo Kay, the head of the WO Communications Office, is on some sort of paid administrative leave. Assiduous readers of this blog may recall that Leo was the brains behind bestowing “honorary forest ranger” status on Arnold Schwarzenegger, for whom Leo used to work in the California governor’s office.

    I have no clue about any veterans-related issues in the Office of Communications.

    • I wondered the same thing. Plus, the existence of a FOIA request is not, in and of itself, evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of USFS. So at this point it seems more like innuendo, conspiracy theory, whatever. Plus, as Mac notes, apparently peripheral to questions of forest management/non-management.

      • Hmmm. Topics on this blog have included Forest Service culture, leadership, whether it’s a good place to work, etc. This fits the filter I have of ” if I were still working there, I would want to know.”

  2. The “Catalyst” does have a point regarding his “..(if there is one)…” remark. So far there’s been no agency confirmation or acknowledgement. But, we’ll see if there’s a response to the “…request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.”

  3. Makes sense Sharon. Thanks for clarifying.

    I seem to recall a “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” blog post from the “Catylst” where he said, “The Forest Service, which perennially ranks near the bottom, out-did itself this year with an “index score” of 49, lowest in a decade (and perhaps ever).”

    If true, it seems like this is even relevant to the “Catylst’s” blog post and an example of why FS employees feel like they do?

    • It could be.. or it could simply be a simple example of the commonplace People At Work Not Getting Along (pronounced Paw(ow)-noga) erupting into the public sphere. Time (if accompanied by the FOIA response) will tell.

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