October 27, 2021
SENT BY E-MAIL
Re: 2021-APP-00004; Appeal of Response 2021-FOIA-00010
By initial email of July 28, 2021, you submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). On July 29, 2021, our office notified you that, before we could begin processing your request, we needed additional information from you because your initial request did not comply with the NCUA’s published FOIA regulations. After receiving the necessary information, by letter of August 6, 2021, we acknowledged your FOIA request (2021-FOIA-00010) was being processed, with a receipt date of July 30, 2021, and a targeted response date of September 13, 2021. Since you requested records about yourself, your request was also processed under the Privacy Act of 1974.
You requested a copy of the reply from Democracy Federal Credit Union, if any, related to your consumer complaint, case #00186433.
By letter of September 8, 2021, a senior attorney advisor in the NCUA’s Office of General Counsel responded to your FOIA request and advised that your request was granted for all the responsive agency records, except for a minor redaction of third party information. 109 pages of publicly releasable responsive records were sent to you, with one page partially redacted pursuant to the FOIA exemption at 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(6). The senior attorney advisor’s response explained that subsection (b)(6) protects information about individuals when its disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
You appealed this determination in a September 29, 2021 email correspondence. Your appeal is denied, as discussed more fully below.
In your appeal, you assert that the information we furnished with our September 8 response was “bogus and manufactured,” and the “response filed by Democracy Federal Credit Union [in response to your June 18 consumer complaint (case #186433)] “was not provided to [you].” Your appeal also contends that while your FOIA request was “filed on 07/28/21 @ 4:03PM” via email to FOIA@ncua.gov, “there was a bogus FOIA request dated 07/30/21” that was “manufactured” by NCUA staff in an alleged “illegal conspiracy to cover up” your complaint about your credit union.
A review of our files reveals that the 109 pages of information provided to you is responsive to your request. Our records indicate that our response letter and the responsive agency records were emailed to you at XXXX in attachments to four separate emails, with the following subject headings:
- NCUA Reply to your FOIA/PA Request #2021-FOIA-00010; 1 of 4
- NCUA Reply to your FOIA/PA Request #2021-FOIA-00010; 2 of 4
- NCUA Reply to your FOIA/PA Request #2021-FOIA-00010; 3 of 4
- NCUA Reply to your FOIA/PA Request #2021-FOIA-00010; 4 of 4
The emails were sent to you on September 8, 2021 at 5:08 PM, 5:10 PM, 5:11 PM, and 5:12 PM, respectively.
With respect to the timing of the processing of your request, as noted above, your FOIA request was initially submitted to us via email on July 28, but additional information was needed from you. Under the NCUA’s regulations, the agency will generally respond to FOIA requests within 20 working days,1 except “the running of such time is suspended” while the NCUA FOIA Processing Center “awaits additional information from the requester.”2 Once the additional information is received, the tolling period ends.3 Here, your July 28 request was incomplete, thus, the running of our response time was suspended while we awaited additional information from you. Once the additional information was received, the tolling period ended and we began processing your request on July 30.
Further, to the extent that your appeal raises general concerns about transparency, we note that the redactions of third party information on the document attached with our September 8 response was proper. The NCUA was required by 12 C.F.R. §792.29 to provide a “submitter notice” to the credit union and give it the opportunity to respond before releasing the document. As a result of that process, the agency was required under section 552(b)(4) of the FOIA (Exemption 4),4 to redact the third party’s confidential, identifying information.
Moreover, under the FOIA, Exemption 6 protects information about individuals in personnel and medical files and similar files when the disclosure of such information “would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”5 The Supreme Court has emphasized that Exemption 6 should be interpreted broadly, and that all information that “applies to a particular individual” meets the threshold requirement of falling within the category of “personnel and medical files and similar files” to warrant protection under Exemption 6.6 Here, the redacted information (name and title) applies to a particular individual affiliated with a credit union. Personally identifying information such as a person’s name and job title has been found to implicate a substantial privacy interest cognizable under the FOIA.7 Accordingly, the redacted third party information was properly withheld under Exemption 6.
For these reasons, your appeal is denied. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. §552(a)(4)(B) of the FOIA, you may seek judicial review of this determination by filing suit against the NCUA. Such a suit may be filed in the United States District Court where you reside, where your principal place of business is located, the District of Columbia, or where the documents are located (the Eastern District of Virginia).
The 2007 FOIA amendments created the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) to offer mediation services to resolve disputes between FOIA requesters and Federal agencies as a non-exclusive alternative to litigation. Using OGIS services does not affect your right to pursue litigation. You may contact OGIS in any of the following ways:
Office of Government Information Services
National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road - OGIS
College Park, MD 20740-6001 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web: (opens new window)
Telephone: 202.741.5770; Toll-free: 877.684.6448
1 The time limits for responding to a FOIA request may be extended by NCUA where there are unusual circumstances, such as the need to search for and collect the requested records from field facilities or other establishments that are separate from the office processing the request. 12 C.F.R. §792.16(a)(1). In this case, our August 6 letter explained that your request necessitated additional time to search for records in separate NCUA offices with substantial subject matter interest and to consult with them. 12 C.F.R. §792.16(a). Consequently, we indicated the targeted response date was by September 13, 2021. 12 C.F.R. §792.15. Our response was provided to you prior to that date on September 8, 2021.
2 12 C.F.R. §792.15(a)(1).
3 See 12 C.F.R. §792.15(a)(2).
4 5 U.S.C. §552(b)(4).
5 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(6).
6 U.S. Dep’t of State v. Washington Post Co., 456 U.S. 595, 602 (1982).
7 See Id. at 600; see also, Performance Coal Co. v. U.S. Dep’t of Labor, No. 10-1698, 2012 WL 746411, at *8 (D.D.C. Mar. 7, 2012).