Saturday, February 23, 2013

NAPWA Audits FOIAed from the CDC

There needs to be a full and transparent accounting of what led to the demise of the National Association of People with AIDS. Toward that end, I've filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the group's bigger funder while it was operating, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

I've asked for copies of all audits and investigations and their results and findings, conducted by the CDC regarding their contracts with NAPWA over the past two years.

With previous FOIA requests of mine to the CDC, I found the turnaround time was more lengthy than with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and as you see in the recent acknowledgement letter from the CDC the agency states it cannot meet the 20-day requirement of FOIA:

Your request will be sent to the area(s) which may have pertinent records. Program officials will initiate a search, and we will provide a copy of all releasable agency records as quickly as possible. The cut-off date for your request will be the date the search for responsive records is initiated by program staff. All requests are handled on a first-in, first-out basis.

Please note that the records you seek are maintained outside of this office and our staff has not yet been able to complete a search to determine whether there are records within the scope of your request. Accordingly, we will be unable to comply with the twenty-working-day time limit in this case, as well as the ten additional days provided by the statute.

If the former leaders of NAPWA had an authentic commitment to accountability to all of the people living with HIV and AIDS whom the group advocated for, they would take the necessary steps to share the CDC's audits of NAPWA on the web. Posting the audits and all related documents from the CDC would assist every PWA and AIDS nonprofit watchdog in learning valuable lessons from NAPWA's demise.

Just because NAPWA has formally ceased operating does not mean the scrutiny of the group, along with the last board members and executives, is over. Too many questions need to be, and will be, answered.

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