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FIA-13-0076 - In the Matter of Exchange Monitor Publications

On January 16, 2014, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) denied a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Appeal filed by Exchange Monitor Publications (Appellant) of a determination issued by the Office of Information Resources (OIR).  In its request, the Appellant asked for copies of “all report, white papers or any other kind of deliverables prepared by the ‘S-1’ expert review team at the Hanford Waste Treatment Plant” and “prepared by any of the eight expert teams at the DOE Office of River Protection examining technical issued at the Hanford Waste Treatment Plant and enhancements to the Hanford tank waster mission.”  The Appellant narrowed its scope to “the final and most recent draft of non-finalized reports, white papers or deliverables identified from the Office of Environmental Management’s search, excluding the Waste Treatment Plant Design Completion Team weekly accomplishment Reports.”  On November 14, 2013, OIR responded that it identified 21 responsive documents but was withholding them in full under Exemption 5 of the FOIA.  The Appellant challenged OIR’s withholdings.  OHA reviewed all 21 documents and found that they were all properly withheld under the Deliberative Process Privilege of Exemption 5.  OHA also found that discretionary released of the information would not be in the public interest and the documents contained no reasonably segregable information.  Therefore, OHA denied the Appeal.