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FIA-12-0051 - In the Matter of William Berger

On October 9, 2012, the Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) issued a decision denying an appeal from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) determination issued by the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).  The Appellant filed an Appeal seeking information about an internal investigation conducted at Fort Chaffee, AR.  In its Determination Letter, NNSA informed the Appellant that it neither confirmed nor denied the existence of any such records described in the request (Glomar response).  Citing FOIA Exemption 6, the Authorizing Official stated in the Determination Letter that an official acknowledgement of an investigation or an acknowledgment of the existence of investigatory records about an individual could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.  The Appellant challenged NNSA’s determination.  After reviewing the interests to be balanced to justify Exemption 6 protection, OHA concluded that, if responsive documents were to exist, the request at issue might reveal the identities and personal information of individuals involved in an investigation.  It further found that NNSA appropriately invoked its Glomar response, neither confirming nor denying the existence of the investigatory records sought by the Appellant.