Feds ask me for $1,064 for open record

“[I]t is estimated that the overall fee to process your request will equal approximately One Thousand Sixty Four Dollars ($1,064.00),” read a disheartening letter I got from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, when I asked them to send me a list of what they confiscated at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport from 2003 to 2012.


Well, dang. Obviously that does not fit in the budget around here at greencracker.net.

And here I wanted to entertain y’all with a list of the things they confiscate, probably including “bottles containing cobra snakes” and “LGI grenade launcher” and “misc documents.”

So for your viewing pleasure, please see:

(1) The inspiration for my request, a list of things confiscated at Dulles, 2003 – 2011, as acquired by governmentattic.org, containing “bottles containing cobra snakes,” etc.

NB, this list cost governmentattic.org a whopping $14.

(2) Page one of feds’ request for $1,064.

(3) Page two of feds’ request for $1,064.


3 Comments on "Feds ask me for $1,064 for open record"

  1. There’s only one possible answer to this thing: Puppets.

  2. Hey, as someone who has navigated the Open Records request on the state and national level on many many issues, this is not that bad. It all comes down to how the information that you request is kept and the search they have to do to put it together. Not saying it is fair or right, but that the bill is not that bad as compared to some of the 20K plus bills i have been presented with over the years.

    So, in this case, if the Dulles request was only $14 it is probably because the people at Dulles kept a list of those items already. They may have done that for a number of reasons, I don’t know, but if the list had already been compiled then they could reproduce it quite cheaply, etc, etc.

    What I would do is ask for a copy of government attic’s request and see who and how they asked for the information. Sometimes, small tweaks to your request will greatly change its scope and price.

    The costs associated with open records request are outrageous in many cases. And there is little recourse for the little guy. I once had a request with the Ga Sec of State’s office for info they did not want out there and they gave me a bill for 18k for them to do the search and produce the records. When I challenged them on it and said I could do the reproduction and search on my own if I had access to the records, (which in this case were all public) they filled a room with about 250 boxes of info, most of it not even remotely related to my request, in an effort to make my job harder. Thankfully, through some careful wording of a question to the person assigned to watch me (I had to pay their salary) located the one box I needed without much effort. I was lucky.

    On a side note, remember that you can request copies of the Open Records requests of others. The more interesting story might actually be the way the Customs folks answer Open Records requests. Also, try asking for the information in electronic form. That will cut down on costs.

  3. Thanks for the tips Josh.

    Believe you me, I am not taking $1,064 for an answer. 🙂

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