The Associated Press is reporting on an interesting public records story. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has requested that The Advocate newspaper of Baton Rouge, Louisiana pay nearly $210,000 for a public records request that requires the agency to produce over 2 million pages of documents.
The Advocate is investigating FEMA’s response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita and has officially requested the documents relating to the agency’s inspection and maintenance of government issued trailers and mobile homes. FEMA states that the first 100 pages of any public records request are free and every page thereafter costs 10 cents to produce for a total cost of about $210,000.
FEMA spokesman James McIntyre states that the agency charges for large public records requests that requires pulling FEMA employees from other jobs to handle the processing of the request.
The executive editor of The Advocate, Carl Redman, stated that FEMA has used stalling tactics to avoid the complying with the public records request ever since it was submitted in September 2006.
The newspaper is requesting copies of contracts, invoices and other public records associated with the trailers and mobile homes that have housed tens of thousands of victims of the 2005 hurricanes.