OIG ECPO Complaint

Jimmy Tobias filed this request with the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Inspector General of the United States of America.
Tracking #





From: Jimmy Tobias

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following records:

Any and all documents, interviews, reports or emails stemming from OIG Complaint #OI-HQ-21-0402-R, which was referred by DOI OIG to the Fish and Wildlife Service for internal investigation.

I am a reporter for The Guardian and other outlets.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.


Jimmy Tobias

From: U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Inspector General

Good Afternoon

Please see the attached acknowledgement letter for your FOIA request with our office. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Thank you
Cristal J. Gorham




From: U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Inspector General

Good afternoon,

Attached is the determination letter and responsive documents in response to your FOIA request with our office.


Shelsea Ramirez




From: U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Inspector General

Records were released to the public as a result of this request. You may retrieve these records immediately using the following link: View Records Over the next 2 hours, these records are also being added to FOIAonline's search pages, further enabling you to retrieve these documents associated with your FOIA request at any time. (https://foiaonline.gov/foiaonline/action/public/submissionDetails?trackingNumber=DOI-FWS-2022-003288&type=Referral)


This is in response to a referral of a document (22 pages) from Office of Inspector General FOIA Office (request number OIG-FOIA-2022-00107)  to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) office for a release determiniation.  The referral was received by FWS FOIA on April 14, 2022 and assigned it tracking number DOI-FWS-2022-003288.  Please cite this number in any future communications with our office regarding this referral.

Our determiniation is to release the document (22 pages) in part, as we have determined portions of the document contain information exemption from disclosure under FOIA exemptions (6) and (7)(C). The rationale for this decision follows.

Exemption 6 allows an agency to withhold “personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”  5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(6).  The phrase “similar files” covers any agency records containing information about a particular individual that can be identified as applying to that individual.  To determine whether releasing records containing information about a particular individual would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, we are required to balance the privacy interest that would be affected by disclosure against any public interest in the information.

Under the FOIA, the only relevant public interest to consider under the exemption is the extent to which the information sought would shed light on an agency’s performance of its statutory duties or otherwise let citizens ‘know what their government is up to.’  The burden is on the requester to establish that disclosure would serve the public interest.  When the privacy interest at stake and the public interest in disclosure has been determined, the two competing interests must be weighed against one another to determine which is the greater result of disclosure: the harm to personal privacy or the benefit to the public.  The purposes for which the request for information is made do not impact this balancing test, as a release of information requested under the FOIA constitutes a release to the general public.  The information you are seeking is personal information, and we have determined if any such record did exist, the individuals to whom this information pertains has a substantial privacy interest in withholding it.  Additionally, you have not provided information that explains a relevant public interest under the FOIA in the disclosure of this personal information, if it exist, and we have determined that the disclosure of this information would shed little or no light on the performance of the agency’s statutory duties.  Because the harm to personal privacy is greater than whatever public interest may be served by disclosure, release of any such record if it exists, would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of the privacy of this individual and we are withholding it under Exemption 6.

Exemption 7 protects from disclosure “records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes” if the records fall within one or more of six specific bases for withholding set forth in subparts (A) through (F).  5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7)(A)-(F).  Exemption 7(C) protects law enforcement records if their release could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.  It is regularly applied to withhold references to individuals in law enforcement files. To overcome the significant privacy interests that individuals have in withholding information about them that appears in law enforcement records, the courts have ruled that requesters must establish that the information is needed to confirm or refute compelling evidence of agency misconduct. Absent a showing of compelling evidence of agency misconduct, the courts have concluded that the privacy interests in withholding identifying information in law enforcement files will always outweigh the insubstantial public interest in disclosure, and have authorized agencies to withhold this information based on exemptions (6) and (7)(C).

For the records you are seeking, we have determined that if any such record did exist, releasing them would constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy because they would identify individuals referenced in law enforcement records and the release of this information would not shed light on an agency’s performance of its statutory duties.

We reasonably foresee that disclosure would harm an interest protected by one or more of the nine exemptions to the FOIA’s general rule of disclosure.

Cathy Willis, FWS FOIA Officer, Division of Information Resources & Technology Management (IRTM) is responsible for this denial.

Appeal Rights

You may appeal this response to the Department’s FOIA/Privacy Act Appeals Officer.  If you choose to appeal, the FOIA/Privacy Act Appeals Officer must receive your FOIA appeal no later than 90 workdays from the date of this final response.  Appeals arriving or delivered after 5 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, will be deemed received on the next workday.

Your appeal must be made in writing.  You may submit your appeal and accompanying materials to the FOIA/Privacy Act Appeals Officer by mail, courier service, fax, or email.  All communications concerning your appeal should be clearly marked with the words: "FREEDOM OF INFORMATION APPEAL."  You must include an explanation of why you believe this response is in error.  You must also include with your appeal copies of all correspondence between you and FWS concerning your FOIA request, including your original FOIA request and this response.  Failure to include with your appeal all correspondence between you and FWS will result in the Department's rejection of your appeal, unless the FOIA/Privacy Act Appeals Officer determines (in the FOIA/Privacy Act Appeals Officer’s sole discretion) that good cause exists to accept the defective appeal.

Please include your name and daytime telephone number (or the name and telephone number of an appropriate contact), email address and fax number (if available) in case the FOIA/Privacy Act Appeals Officer needs additional information or clarification of your appeal.

DOI FOIA/Privacy Act Appeals Office Contact Information

Department of the Interior
Office of the Solicitor
1849 C Street, N.W.
MS-6556 MIB
Washington, DC 20240

Attn: FOIA/Privacy Act Appeals Office

Telephone: (202) 208-5339
Fax: (202) 208-6677
Email: FOIA.Appeals@sol.doi.gov

Mediation Services

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: ogis@nara.gov
Web: https://www.archives.gov/ogis
Telephone: 202-741-5770
Fax: 202-741-5769
Toll-free: 1-877-684-6448

Please note that using OGIS services does not affect the timing of filing an appeal with the Department’s FOIA & Privacy Act Appeals Officer.

Contact information for the Department’s FOIA Public Liaison, whom you may also seek dispute resolution services from, is available at https://www.doi.gov/foia/foiacenters.


For your information, Congress excluded three discrete categories of law enforcement and national security records from the requirements of FOIA.  See 5 U.S.C. 552(c).  This response is limited to those records that are subject to the requirements of FOIA.  This is a standard notification that is given to all our requesters and should not be taken as an indication that excluded records do, or do not, exist.

This is our only and final response and closes your request DOI-FWS-2022-003288.  If you have any questions about our response to your request, you may contact me, by email at fwhq_foia@fws.gov, or by mail at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; ATTN: FOIA Office; 5275 Leesburg Pike; MS: IRTM; Falls Church, VA 22041.

  • Referred_Tobias 2022-00107 Referral Letter to FWS_Redacted