Eric Worrall writes: It looks like NOAA have found a new way to stifle FOIA inquiries from the public. According to Steve Goddard, NOAA have just demanded a $262,000 administrative fee for zipping up a few raw data files.
Steve Goddard has published a scan of the outrageous fee demand he and fellow FOIA requestor Kent Clizbe received from NOAA administrator Maria S Williams. The letter, sent on March 17th, demands $262,000 by March 24th, or further communication – otherwise Maria says they will consider the matter closed.
The NOAA staff directory lists Maria Williams as the Chief of Staff Support Services Branch. https://nsd.rdc.noaa.gov/nsd/pubresult?LNAME=wil
For the full story read Steve’s post – https://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/freedom-isnt-free/
As an IT expert with over 20 years of experience, my expert opinion on the claim by NOAA that it would require $262,000 to gather up a few computer files and send them to Steve is that it sounds like a complete crock. Even if some of the files are in printed form, they can just be run through a scanner – my automatic page feed scanner can process a page every few seconds, even cheap scanners can process thousands of pages per day. If the files are too big to put in an email (likely), for trivial cost NOAA could publish them on a password protected web page – it would take at most a day to set up such a web page, and add the files to it.
If NOAA’s data files really are so poorly catalogued that several man years of effort would be required to find them, this is something NOAA should be fixing on their own time. If this is the case, NOAA should not be attempting to charge FOIA petitioners outrageous fees to cover NOAA’s own incompetence.