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FIA-13-0035 - In the Matter of Avery R. Webster

On June 19, 2013, the Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) issued a decision denying an appeal (Appeal) from a determination issued by the Office of Inspector General (OIG).  The Appellant filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act seeking, inter alia, information about complaints filed against Poli A. Marmolejos, Director, Office of Hearings and Appeals, and any related internal investigations.  In its determination letter, the OIG informed the Appellant that it neither confirmed nor denied the existence of any such records described in the request (a so-called Glomar response).  Citing FOIA Exemption 7(C), the determination letter went on to state that, lacking an individual’s consent, an official acknowledgment of an investigation, or an overriding public interest, even to acknowledge the existence of such records pertaining to an individual could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.  The Appellant challenged the OIG’s response.  After reviewing the subject matter of the request, the method by which the request was processed, and the OIG justification offered in the determination letter, the OHA found that the OIG appropriately invoked its Glomar response; any other response to the request could reasonably be expected to constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy under Exemption 7(C).  Accordingly, the Appeal was denied.