Wednesday, December 13, 2006

NIH FOIA Appeal Filed: Release All 1,000-plus Pages of HIV Drug Panel Records

It's been way too long since I heard from the FOIA office at NIAID regarding a request from me, so I wrote to the agency today and received a brief reply.

Now is the time for NIAID's FOIA office to finally release the requested documents. Continuing to withhold these public records is without legal merit.

The deliberations that took place prior to NIH's report on HIV treatment recommendations must be shared with me, as a person with AIDS, my doctor, and all AIDS activists.

December 13, 2006

Karin Lohman
FOIA Office, Acting Chief
National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases
Bethesda, MD

Ms. Lohman:

This letter is an appeal related my Freedom of Information Act request from April 3, 2006, to which you've assigned it FOIA Case No. 32469.

The June 27, 2006, letter from NIAID's FOIA office informed me that more than 1,000 pages responsive to my request for documents pertaining to the Panel on Clinical Practices for Treatment of HIV.

As you know, I've requested all agendas, minutes of meetings, materials distributed at meetings and transcripts of the Panel's monthly teleconference, and believe you and your office have unreasonably, and without merit, delayed release of the found records to me.

Neither the NIAID nor the NIH FOIA office have provided me with legitimate arguments as to why these records are not ready for release.

You have mentioned in several phone conversation over the past few months that NIAID's FOIA office reviewed and authorized release of the records, but that the NIH FOIA office needed to go over them before allowing their release to me.

First, as far as I know, requested documents need only pass review by only one branch of NIH before release. Second, if there is a cogent and valid argument why the records must pass an additional review, it should not take seven or more months for that review to occur.

Therefore, today I am requesting immediate and full disclosure of all 1,000-plus pages of files responsive to request number 32469, which, I need remind you, have already passed NIAID's process for release.

Please send all of those pages to me, via overnight FedEx.

Thanks for your prompt attention and response to my appeal.

Sincerely yours,
Michael Petrelis

Here is the acknowledgement I received today:

Mr. Petrelis,

This is to confirm receipt of the email you sent to me earlier today. I will check on the status of your request.



Karin N. Lohman, Ph.D.
Acting Chief, Strategic Planning and Evaluation Branch
Acting Chief, FOIA Office
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH, DHHS
Bldg. 31 Room 7A-17F7
Bethesda, MD 20892

Let's hope the NIAID FOIA office gives me an early Xmas present -- all of the pages they've located responsive to my outstanding request!

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