On Wednesday a case was filed in District of Columbia District Court by National Public Radio, Inc. and journalist and producer Jingnan Huo, against the Department of Health and Human Services, alleging that the agency has violated the Freedom of Information Act regarding the TeleTracking Technologies.
The complaint explained that, as a part of the agency’s COVID-19 response, government vendor TeleTracking Technologies, Inc. has provided services to HHS in tracking the occurrence of the disease and other health data.
NPR submitted a Freedom of Information Act Request regarding the relationship between HHS and TeleTracking, seeking information and any white papers submitted to HHS by Teletracking on real-time healthcare capacity reporting. Additionally, NPR sought the non-disclosure agreement and contract between HHS and Teletracking as well as related emails.
Three months after the request, HHS indicated that 31 pages of responsive records had been located, of which two pages were withheld under a FOIA exemptions for trade secrets and privileged commercial or financial information the deliberative process privilege. Seven further pages were partially withheld under the trade secrets and personal privacy privilege.
NPR noted that this response appeared to be incomplete, as there were no records for several of the areas of requests, and the responses only produced a fragment of one email. There were also no records of what search phrases or databases were used to meet the terms of the FOIA request, which did not permit NPR to evaluate how complete the response was. NPR also noted in its response that it has been over a year without a meaningful response to the original FOIA request.
NPR is represented by Davis Wright Tremaine.