FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: Brookings scholars file FOIA request for Spanberger-USPS processing notes

FOIA News (2018)Ryan MulveyComment

A Meta-FOIA Request: How Did the Postal Service Release a Congressional Candidate's SF-86?

Scott R. Anderson & Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare, Aug. 30, 2018

This past Tuesday, congressional candidate and former CIA officer Abigail Spanberger announced that her political opponents appeared to have acquired a copy of her SF-86, a form used by the federal government to collect sensitive personal information from job applicants for background checks and security clearances. Press reports later traced the document’s release to the U.S. Postal Service, who was responding to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Earlier today, the Postal Service accepted responsibility, apologized to Spanberger, and requested the return of the documents—but stopped short of providing a full explanation.

[. . .]

While an SF-86 is not the sort of material that an agency should be releasing under FOIA, any documents reflecting how that FOIA request was handled—and why—certainly are. So we thought a meta-FOIA request might help shed light on how this release came about. We submitted requests to both the Postal Service and to the National Archives and Records Administration. 

Read more here.