2. FOIA exemption 2 protects from mandatory disclosure material "related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency." 5 U.S.C. section 552(b)(2). The withheld documents meet the test established in Crooker v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, 216 App. D.C. 232, 670 F.2d 1051, 1074 (D.C. Cir. 1981) (en banc). Under Crooker, an agency may withhold material under exemption 2 when it is able to demonstrate (1) that the material is "predominantly internal" and (2) disclosure of the material would risk circumvention of law or agency regulations.
First, the documents are "predominantly internal." The documents are evaluations created by one federal agency, NIST, for the sole purpose of advising another agency, the Land and Natural Resources Division at the Department of Justice. According to the Branstad Declaration, these assessments are not made available to any other individual or entity other than the agency that developed the security plan.
Also applicable is the second prong of the Crooker analysis, which protects material the disclosures of which would risk circumvention of lawful agency laws or regulations. In this case, the requested documents contain an assessment of the vulnerabilities of the computer security plans submitted by the Land and Natural Resources Division. If public disclosure were required, there would be a significant risk that the security required for the computer systems would be circumvented. The government correctly argues that if this information was disclosed to the public, there would be no constraint on the ability of persons to utilize this information to obtain unauthorized access to the system resulting in the potential alternation, loss, damage or destruction of data contained in the computer system. Such unauthorized access may result in damage to government programs in circumvention of the purposes of the Computer Security Act. Moreover, public disclosure of the contents of NIST's review of computer security plans may render such plans "operationally useless." See National Treasury Employees 's Union v. Customs Service, 255 App. D.C. 449, 802 F.2d 525, 530 (D.C. Cir. 1986). Consequently, the Court concludes that the withheld documents are exempt from disclosure under exemption 2 of FOIA.
Having made this determination, the Court will turn to plaintiff's claim that segregable factual portions of the five withheld documents were not released. Under FOIA, any reasonable segregable portion of a record must be provided to a requester after deletion of the portions which are exempt. 5 U.S.C. section 552(b). While plaintiff is not entitled to disclosure of the assessments of the computer security plans, defendants have not convinced the Court that these documents are not segregable. In his FOIA request, plaintiff sought two categories of documents. In addition to documents evaluating the security plans, plaintiff sought records regarding federal computer systems identified by the Land and Natural Resources Division. In the Court's view, portions of the documents which merely identify the computer systems, rather than the security plans, should be disclosed. Thus, the Court will require defendants to release to plaintiff all segregable factual portions of the documents which merely identify the Land and Natural Resources Division's computer systems. In view of the foregoing, the Court will grant defendant's motion for summary judgment in part and deny the motion in part. The Court will enter judgment for defendant with respect to its invocation of exemption 2 and further require defendant to release to the plaintiff segregable portions of the documents as described above.
An appropriate Order accompanies this Memorandum.
Date: JUN 28 1991
JOHN GARRETT PENN
United States District Judge
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