On January 31, 2023, the Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) denied the Freedom of Information ( FOIA) Appeal filed by Cato Institute (Appellant) from a determination letter issued by the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of the Inspector General (OIG). On Appeal, the Appellant argued that that OIG improperly redacted information pursuant to Exemption 5.
The Appellant argued that the information redacted pursuant to Exemption 5 was factual and, therefore, not subject to the deliberative process privilege, which is incorporated within Exemption 5. OIG countered that the redacted information was deliberative, pre -decisional, and would harm the ability of OIG employees to give candid opinions and recommendations if released. After reviewing the redacted records, we found OIG's explanation of the Exemption 5 redactions in these documents to be reasonable. All of the information redacted contained recommendations or discussion of ideas that OIG was considering in connection with a decision. We also found that OIG's concern about the need to keep this information private as part of its role as DOE's independent evaluator to be well -founded. Therefore, OIG's redaction of information pursuant to FOIA Exemption 5 was appropriate. (OHA Case No. FIA-23-0009)