Parallel Investigations Initiative: Amplifying Congressional Oversight

American Oversight is filing FOIAs that mirror the document requests sent by the chairs and ranking members of key congressional committees. If there is a surge in congressional oversight activity in 2019, or even sooner, American Oversight will be prepared to file parallel FOIA lawsuits seeking the same information as congressional investigators – making it very difficult for the Trump administration to duck accountability.

American Oversight’s Parallel Investigations Initiative is a long-term effort to set up potential FOIA litigation on issues that are also likely to become the targets of congressional investigations.

Federal agencies are adept at handling one kind of investigation at a time; they know how to deflect congressional inquiries or delay responses to FOIA requests. But when independent FOIA litigation is paired with aggressive congressional investigation, it creates a feedback loop of oversight that is much harder for agencies to resist.

Read more about American Oversight’s Parallel Investigations Initiative here.

The FOIA requests below have been crafted to mirror oversight letters sent by both the chairs and ranking members of committees in the House and Senate. Federal agencies generally feel that they can ignore document requests sent by anyone other than a committee chair – but if control of Congress changes hands in the upcoming midterm elections, today’s ranking members could become the new committee chairs. If that happens, they will have the ability compel the Trump administration to answer their questions, and American Oversight will be ready to file FOIA lawsuits seeking the same documents.

And while the current Congress has largely failed to hold the Trump administration accountable, several committees have opened limited investigations into Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. American Oversight has also sent FOIAs paralleling oversight letters signed by committee chairs seeking information about the Census Bureau’s information technology systems, the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements at the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response to hurricane damage in Puerto Rico.

Related Documents

May 1, 2018

FOIA to DHS Regarding Nondisclosure Agreements and Restrictions on Appointees

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
May 1, 2018

FOIA to DHS Seeking Restrictions on Communications with Congress

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
May 1, 2018

FOIA to DOJ Regarding Nondisclosure Agreements and Restrictions on Appointees

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
May 1, 2018

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Restrictions on Communications with Congress and other Nondisclosure Agreements

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
April 20, 2018

FOIA Seeking Communications Regarding Lance Leggitt’s Memorandum

Department of Health and Human Services
FOIA Request
April 20, 2018

FOIA Seeking Any Agreements Given to HHS Employees

Department of Health and Human Services
FOIA Request
April 20, 2018

FOIA to HHS Regarding Limitations on Employees Communicating with Congress

Department of Health and Human Services
FOIA Request
April 19, 2018

FOIA to DHS/FEMA Regarding Puerto Rico Preparedness

Federal Emergency Management Agency
FOIA Request
April 19, 2018

FOIA to FEMA Regarding Puerto Rico Seeking Communications with Food Retailers

Federal Emergency Management Agency
FOIA Request
April 19, 2018

FOIA to FEMA Regarding Bids for Contract Following Hurricanes Maria and Irma

Federal Emergency Management Agency
FOIA Request
April 19, 2018

FOIA to FEMA Regarding a Particular Contract Following Hurricanes Maria and Irma

Federal Emergency Management Agency
FOIA Request
March 14, 2018

FOIA to Commerce Regarding 2020 Census

Department of Commerce
FOIA Request