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FIA-13-0063 - In the Matter of Julie A. Reddick

Julie A. Reddick filed two Appeals regarding a request that she made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Environmental Management Consolidated Business Center (EMCBC) for two specific documents generated during an Employee Concerns investigation.  In a September 23, 2013, response, to Ms. Reddick, EMCBC determined that the relevant documents were under the jurisdiction of DOE Headquarters.  Therefore, EMCBC did not search records at its location; rather it transferred the request to DOE Headquarters for a search.  In a September 24, determination, NNSA notified Ms. Reddick that its search for records did not yield any responsive documents.  On September 26, 2013, Ms. Reddick filed an Appeal, designated as OHA Case No. FIA-13-0063, challenging the adequacy of the agency’s search.  During the pendency of Ms. Reddick’s first Appeal, NNSA withdrew its September 24, 2013, determination.  On October 22, 2013, following a new search, NNSA issued a second final determination in response to Ms. Reddick’s FOIA request.  In the second determination, NNSA noted that its search yielded the two requested documents.  NNSA released one in its entirety, and withheld one in its entirety pursuant to FOIA Exemption 5.  Ms. Reddick filed a second Appeal, designated OHA Case No. FIA-13-0067, challenging the applicability of Exemption 5 to the withheld document.     On appeal, OHA found that, because NNSA located the two requested documents in its second search, Ms. Reddick’s challenge to the adequacy of the agency’s search, raised in her first Appeal (OHA Case No. FIA-13-0063), was moot.  In addition, OHA determined that NNSA properly invoked the deliberative process privilege in withholding a document under FOIA Exemption 5.  Accordingly, OHA dismissed as moot Ms. Reddick’s first Appeal, OHA Case No. FIA-13-0063, and denied her second Appeal, OHA Case No. FIA-13-0067.