How do you spell bureaucracy – NOAA

NOAAAfter a somewhat lengthy delay, we have finally heard back from NOAA – Office of Marine Sanctuary.

As you may know, the California Pilots Association has written to NOAA – Office of Marine Sanctuary – regarding last year’s west coast airspace change, which the we believe was implemented without justification.

One of our requests was simple –”Supply us with the documented verification that there were in fact numerous violations which justified the marine sanctuary airspace change from voluntary to a forced disciplinary violation.”

After all, the NOAA – Office of Marine Sanctuary negotiated with the FAA regarding this airspace change just last year, so we have to assume that they provided proof that their proposed actions were justified. One would assume that the data they used should be readily available. Right?

Apparently not, NOAA – Office of Marine Sanctuary is treating this request as a typical government bureaucracy – as a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Why does that matter? It matters because as a government agency NOAA is required to provide non-classified information when requested. However, to us this FOIA response is indicative of a stall technique to dissuade the typical requestor. Further, they want CalPilots to pay them to actually perform their job.

The methodology, and process, used by NOAA to determine the cost to disclose the readily available requested information should embarrass NOAA. And I quote:

“We estimate that the cost to search for responsive records will be approximately $316.48. This estimate is based on approximately 8 hours of search time at the actual salary rate of 9 employees conducting the search at salaries ranging from $40.63–$71.40/hour, averaging $55.75 per hour. These rates include an additional 16% of salary rate, as specified by FOIA regulations. This estimate of $316.48 includes 2 free hours of search at the hourly rate ($111.50). Please note that this is an estimate and that it is possible that could increase if, for example, actual search time is more than we estimated.”

In our opinion the requested information should be easily accessible to NOAA as a result of the FAA negotiations. If NOAA presented this data, why should it require another search? Or, did NOAA – Office of Marine Sanctuary even present violation data justifying this misguided move? Stay tuned – we don’t plan on dropping this.