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FIA-13-0039 - In the Matter of Avery R. Webster

On July 17, 2013, OHA issued a decision denying an appeal (Appeal) from a FOIA determination issued by the Office of Information Resources (OIR).  The Appellant had filed a FOIA request seeking copies of all management training records and documents for four named DOE employees in OHA.  The Appellant appealed the OIR’s decision to withhold portions of the released documents pursuant to Exemption 6 and contested the adequacy of its search.  The withheld portions consisted of certain course titles and course codes that implicate personal privacy information about OHA employees who took those specific courses.  The OIR stated in its decision letter that portions of the documents were withheld pursuant to Exemption 6 of the FOIA because the public interest in releasing the information did not outweigh the overriding privacy interests in keeping the information confidential. OHA, acting through the Chief Information Officer pursuant to a delegation from the Director, OHA, reviewed the withheld information and determined that the OIR properly invoked Exemption 6.  OHA determined the withheld information was personal privacy information, the disclosure of which could lead to injury, embarrassment, jealousy or harassment and would potentially have a deleterious effect on employee morale and workplace efficiency.  OHA stated that these substantial privacy interests outweighed the public interest in disclosure, and therefore the release of the information at issue would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.  The OIR stated that two offices conducted a search for responsive documents: OHA and the Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer.  Upon review of each office’s description of its search, OHA determined that the OIR conducted an adequate search for responsive documents.  Therefore, OHA denied the Appeal.