All Cuba Money Project Freedom of Information Act requests – more than 110 of them so far – are in a public Google Docs file called Cuba Money FOIAs. Feel free to download and share the FOIA letters, and make comments or suggestions on FOIA requests you’d like to see.
Most of the FOIA requests filed so far are for contracts that non-profit organizations have received to carry out Cuba-related projects or programs. But I’ve started filing for contracts of for-profit companies, too. See Google Docs link for those FOIAs.
The FOIA letters ask for the contracts or agreements that these organizations have with USAID and the State Department. I sent off a batch of these letters in October 2011. USAID replied Oct. 20, 2011, asking for contracts I have with news entities. In response, I sent my contracts and letters dated Oct. 25 and Oct. 31. USAID replied on Nov. 3, telling me my request for a news media fee waiver was granted and that my FOIA requests were being processed.
In the case of non-profit organizations, most of my FOIA requests cite a specific dollar amount that the organization reported spending in required Office of Management and Budget audits.
I have set up spreadsheets showing these expense amounts on the Where the $ Goes page.
I’ve also uploaded all the audits to Google Docs – see federal audits. Cuba expenses aren’t always readily identifiable. I have filed FOIAs for some of the expenses found in the audits and am continuing to review them.
On Oct. 13, 2011, I received the first document in response to a FOIA request, this request made in March 2011. USAID sent me a heavily redacted 33-page project proposal, which I wrote about here and posted here. I appealed the agency’s decision to release such a limited amount of information.
See all my FOIA appeals here.
FOIA processing time
By law, government agencies have 20 business days to respond once they receive FOIA requests. Processing time varies greatly. The State Department took an average of 144 days to process simple FOIA requests, 435 days for expedited requests and 284 days for complex requests in fiscal 2010, according to the agency’s 2010 annual report. The agency processed some requests in as little as one day, and others in as many as 1,276 days – or more than three years.
The State Department had a backlog of 13,579 FOIA cases in 2010, the annual report said. Officials have said they can’t process requests any faster without more staff. The equivalent of 129 full-time employees are assigned to FOIA requests at the State Department. The agency estimated it spent $13,715,206 processing FOIA requests in 2010, including $253,779 for litigation.
Cuba Money Project FOIA request for copy of taxpayer-financed audits of Cuba programs
Cuba Money Project FOIA requests for democracy proposals
State Department FOIA page
Text of FOIA
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