Sheridan v. U.S. Office of Personnel Management

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUM B IA ) RONALD L. SHERIDAN, JR., ) ) P laintiff, ) ) v. ) Case No. 16-cv-805 (KBJ) ) U.S. OFFICE OF P ERSONNEL ) MANAGEMENT, ) ) Defendant. ) ) ) M EM ORANDUM OPINION P ro se plaintiff Ronald L. Sheridan seeks access to the computer software that the Office of P ersonnel Management (“OP M”) uses to administer background investigations to applicants for federal government jobs. (See Compl., ECF No. 1, ¶ 8.) Sheridan submitted a records request to OP M in April of 2015, asking for “[c]omputer files containing the source code” for the agency’s Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations P rocessing (“e-QIP ”) system, as well as related “design and operations documentation for e-QIP .” (Id. ¶ 9.) Sheridan filed the instant lawsuit after OP M failed to respond to his request; he invokes the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, and asks this Court to declare OP M’s withholding “unlawful” and to order OP M to produce the requested records “without further delay.” (Id., P rayer for Relief, ¶¶ C–D.) Before this Court at present are the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment. (S ee Mem. in Supp. of Def.’s Mot. for Summ. J. (“Def.’s Mem.”), ECF No. 8; P l.’s Mem. in Opp’n to Def.’s Mot. for Summ. J. & in Supp. of P l.’s Cross-Mot. for Summ. J. (“P l.’s Mem.”), ECF No. 11.) In its motion, OP M argues that the e-QIP source code and related documentation are exempt from disclosure under the FOIA pursuant to Exemption 7(E), 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7)(E), because the e-QIP source code and related documentation were compiled for a “law enforcement purpose” (see Def.’s Mem. at 11–12), and producing those records could reasonably be expected to increase the risk that undeserving individuals might successfully navigate the background investigation process, and also the risk that the e-QIP system will be the target of cyber-intrusion (see id . at 12– 13). 1 OP M further argues that because Exemption 7(E) applies to the requested records in their entirety, no reasonably segregable, non-exempt portions of those records can be produced to Sheridan (see id. at 15– 16), and that even if some portions of the requested records are segregable, they would nevertheless be exempt from disclosure pursuant to FOIA Exemption 2, which encompasses “matters that are . . . related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency[,]” 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(2). (S ee Def.’s Mem. at 13–15.) For his part, Sheridan maintains that neither Exemption 7(E) nor Exemption 2 applies (see P l.’s Mem. at 10– 15), and that even if they do, OP M has not adequately complied with the FOIA’s segregability requirement (see id . at 15). Although Sheridan’s written and oral presentation in regard to this matter was exceptional for a non-lawyer advocate, for the reasons explained below, this Court agrees with OP M that the requested records are exempt from ...

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