court disagreed, stating that "[a] decision to 'pursue' radio broadcasting is, in effect, a decision to make more decisions." Id. at 574.
By analogy the Population Division's decision in the instant case to initiate the personnel process by an SF-52 requesting that a position be filled is, in essence, a decision to make more decisions with respect to such essential matters as whether the position is needed at all, at what cost and from whose budget, what the successful applicant will be expected to do, and to whom he or she will report, as well as who should be chosen to fill it. The Court concludes that the process, which commences with the dispatch of a division-generated SF-52 and ends with the filling of (or a refusal to fill) the requested position and the issuance of an SF-50, is a continuum of reflection and tentative decision-making, and entitled to claim the deliberative process privilege throughout for all but the last step.
Plaintiff's alternative argument, viz., that promotion-related documents are disclosable because they constitute the "secret law" of the agency is even less convincing. The "secret law" exception to Exemption 5 which various courts have found comprehends unpublished interpretations of regulations or rulings which are unavowedly accorded precedential value by agency personnel in subsequent decisionmaking. See Coastal States, 617 F.2d at 867-68. See also Schlefer v. United States, 226 U.S. App. D.C. 254, 702 F.2d 233, 237 (D.C. Cir. 1983); Taxation With Representation Fund v. IRS, 207 U.S. App. D.C. 331, 646 F.2d 666, 678 (D.C. Cir. 1981). Even if, as plaintiff believes, Bureau officials are manipulating the merit system to the subversion of merit principles, the papers with which they are doing so cannot be regarded as "law," secret or otherwise; they are merely evidence of the offense, or at most contraband, and it is unnecessary to decide whether they might be discoverable as such in some other forum to hold that they are surely not available to plaintiff under the "secret law" exception to FOIA Exemption 5.
The non-substantive documents involved in Appeal Nos. 1 and 2 which plaintiff would also like to have are the handwritten "logs" kept in the front of each of the notebooks as a sort of index. The Bureau contends that the logs are not "agency records" under FOIA, having been created by an enterprising employee (i.e., the intermediate administrator) on her own initiative and for her own personal convenience. See Kissinger v. Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press, 445 U.S. 136, 155, 63 L. Ed. 2d 267, 100 S. Ct. 960 (1980). Although the term "agency records" is not defined in FOIA, see Forsham v. Harris, 445 U.S. 169, 178, 63 L. Ed. 2d 293, 100 S. Ct. 977 (1980), personal notes which are not intended for distribution through normal agency channels and which cannot be said to be within the "control or dominion" of an agency are ordinarily considered to be beyond the scope of FOIA. See British Airports Authority v. Civil Aeronautics Board, 531 F. Supp. 408, 415-16 (D.D.C. 1982); Kalmin v. Department of the Navy, 605 F. Supp. 1492, 1495 (D.D.C. 1985). The Court finds that the logs, although undoubtedly work-related, were nevertheless a voluntary piece of unofficial scholarship of an employee who wished only to facilitate her own performance of her duties, and their disclosure can no more be compelled by a request for them under FOIA made to her employer than could, for example, her desk-side telephone directory or day-book.
Appeal No. 3
The Court concludes that the Bureau properly declined to conduct the required searches for items A and B of the request now denominated Appeal No. 3. The statute itself, 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(3), mandates that records requested under FOIA be "reasonably described," and the "reasonable description" requirement has been held to be satisfied if a professional employee of the agency who is generally familiar with the subject area can locate the requested records with a "reasonable amount of effort." H.R. Rep. No. 93-876, 93d Cong., 2d Sess. 5-6 (1974). See Goland v. CIA, 197 U.S. App. D.C. 25, 607 F.2d 339, 353 (D.C. Cir. 1978), vacated in part, 607 F.2d 367 (D.C. Cir. 1979) (per curiam), cert. denied, 445 U.S. 927, 100 S. Ct. 1312, 63 L. Ed. 2d 759 (1980); Marks v. Department of Justice, 578 F.2d 261, 263 (9th Cir. 1978). "Broad, sweeping requests lacking specificity are not permissible." Marks, 578 F.2d at 263 (citation omitted).
AFGE sought to "inspect" (although not yet to copy):
A. Every chronological office file and correspondence file, internal and external, for every branch office, staff office, assistant division chief office, division chief office, assistant director's office, associate director's office, deputy director's office, and director's office;