Update – 2/29/2016
The 900 pages disclosed by the West Virginia Board of Medicine in reply to the AAPS FOIA request, can be browsed and downloaded here:
Items of interest from the 900+ page disclosure:
- FSMB announces data sharing agreement with ABMS – https://www.scribd.com/doc/301226182
- FSMB outlines recommended changes to medical board policies – https://www.scribd.com/doc/301226184
A little-used right of Americans is to learn more about what our state governments are up to. Commonly known as a “FOIA request,” which stands for Freedom of Information Act request, this can done in a matter of minutes merely by modifying a template and emailing it to an appropriate address. States are typically far more responsive than the federal government in complying with these requests. In many states they are called “open records requests” rather than FOIA requests.
Copied below is a sample FOIA request that we recently sent to the West Virginia Board of Medicine, which by law must respond in five business days. Please consider making a similar request in your own state, or even in a state different from your residence. (Only eight states limit FOIA requests to those made by their own residents: AL, AR, DE, MO, NH, NJ, TN, and VA.)
December 21, 2015
Custodian of Records
West Virginia Board of Medicine
101 Dee Drive Suite 103
Charleston, WV 25311
Dear Custodian of Records:
On behalf of the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons (“AAPS”), a non-profit organization founded in 1943 which has members in West Virginia, I request an electronic copy of the following, pursuant to the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act, W.Va. Code §29B-1-1 et seq. If an electronic copy is not available, then I request a paper copy:
(1) Emails by, to, and among members and staff of the West Virginia Board of Medicine (“WVBOM”) since Jan. 1, 2014, concerning the Federation of State Medical Boards (“FSMB”), the Council of State Governments (“CSG”), and/or the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (“IMLC”), including emails relating to the Commission established under the IMLC.
(2) Receipts and reimbursement data, files, and forms for travel and expenses for all WVBOM members and staff to participate in FSMB-related, CSG-related, and/or IMLC-related meetings, events, and activities, since Jan. 1, 2014.
(3) Receipts and reimbursement data, files, and forms for all payments to a member or staff of the FSMB or CSG for travel to West Virginia since Jan. 1, 2014.
(4) Receipts and reimbursement data, files, and forms for any payments made, including dues, to the FSMB, CSG, and/or IMLC Commission since Jan. 1, 2013.
This information is not being sought for commercial purposes. I respectfully request a waiver of any and all fees, in that the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest and will contribute significantly to the public’s understanding of the influence by the FSMB and CSG on a governmental agency. If there are any fees for searching or copying these records, then please inform me beforehand if the charge will exceed $200. Note that under the new law passed in West Virginia in 2015 concerning FOIA, only actual costs may be charged.
The West Virginia Freedom of Information Act requires that your agency respond to this request within five business days. If there is any delay, please let me know when I will receive the requested material. If there is a denial of any part of this request, then please cite the specific exemption used for the denial, and state the appeal procedures that are available.
Please email to me the electronic copies to this address of [email protected] . Please mail any paper copies that are not in electronic form to my address at:
Andrew Schlafly, Esq., 939 Old Chester Rd., Far Hills, NJ 07931
Thank you for your attention to this matter. Please contact me directly if there are any issues concerning this request.