Freedom Of Information Isn't Free: NIST Requires $19,112.29 In Order To Provide WTC Investigation Photos & Footage
The following is a July 18, 2008 Freedom of Information Act reply from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, within which it is explained why NIST requires a pre-payment of $19,112.29 for search and reproduction costs for materials obtained for its World Trade Center building collapse studies.
Dear Mr. Monaghan,
This letter is in response to your December 17, 2007 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) requesting "the 6,899 photographs and over 300 hours of video recording reportedly in the possession of NIST, of the World Trade Center site following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001." Your request was assigned FOIA Log #08-18.
For the purpose of the FOIA, it was previously determined that you are in the "all other requesters" category, for which chargeable services include search and duplication of responsive documents excluding the cost of the first 2 hours of search and the first 100 pages of duplication. We initially estimate the cost to process your FOIA Request to be $19,112.29. Upon receipt of a check or money order payable to the "United States Treasury" in the amount of $19,112.29, we will begin the search and duplication of responsive documents. Since this is just an estimate, if the actual cost for search and duplication of responsive documents is less than the estimate, the overage will be refunded promptly. Likewise, if the actual cost for search and duplication of responsive documents is more than the estimate, you will be required to pay the difference. Please be advised that these charges are assessed whether or not responsive documents are located and whether or not any of these documents are exempt from disclosure under FOIA.
Please forward your check or money order to me at the following address:
NIST Freedom of Information Act Officer
Mail Stop 1710
100 Bureau Drive
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-1710
If we do not receive a check or money order from you within thirty calendar days of the date on this letter, we will assume that you are no longer interested in receiving the documents requested and your FOIA request will be closed.
NIST reference to the requested records:
6,977 segments of video footage, totaling in excess of 300 hours. The media videos included
both broadcast material and outtakes. Additionally, NIST received videotapes recorded by
more than 20 individuals.
6,899 photographs from at least 200 photographers. As with the videos, many of the
photographs were unpublished.