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WIESENFELDER v. RILEY

February 13, 1997

LESLIE H. WIESENFELDER, Plaintiff,
v.
RICHARD W. RILEY and THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HARRIS

 Background

 Plaintiff commenced this action pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552, to obtain documents from the Department of Education (the "Department") that pertain to the Department's oversight of student financial aid programs authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act. 20 U.S.C. § 1070. Plaintiff seeks virtually all materials utilized by the Department in determining whether postsecondary educational institutions are in compliance with Title IV.

 Title IV of the Higher Education Act authorizes loan and grant programs for eligible students in postsecondary educational institutions. Regulations enacted by the Department establish when such institutions can receive and disburse Title IV funds. See 34 C.F.R. pt. 668 (1995). The Department enacted these regulations to ensure fiscal and administrative responsibility on the part of the institutions that receive these funds. Def.s' Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. A, Fenton Decl. at PP 17, 22-26. *fn1" Such regulations are necessary in light of the fact that each year over $ 30 billion of Title IV funds are made available by the Department. Id. at P 16.

 On April 11, 1994, plaintiff requested the following documents:

 
Institutional Review Branch (IRB) procedure memoranda and deficiency codes, any other manuals, guides, procedures, or administrative directives used by program reviewers when conducting program review of postsecondary institutions that participate in Title IV programs, a copy of the current Department of Education Program Review Guide, and any updates to the Guide.

 Def.s' Statement of Material Facts as to Which There Is No Genuine Issue at 1-2; see also Pl.'s Resp. to Def.s' Statement of Material Facts at 1. On January 31, 1995, plaintiff requested

 
all documents pertaining to the standards, policies or guidelines utilized by the Department in its oversight of institutions that participate in Title IV programs, including those which address when the Department should initiate full file reviews, assess liability and/or fines, and modify the method by which the Department pays student financial assistance funds to these schools.

 Id. at 2; see also Pl.'s Resp. to Def.s' Statement of Material Facts at 1. Further, on February 14, 1995, plaintiff requested all documents "pertaining to the criteria by which the Department recertifies postsecondary institutions pursuant to 38 C.F.R. § 668.13 (1994)." Id. at 2; see also Pl.'s Resp. to Def.s' Statement of Material Facts at 2.

 The Department responded to plaintiff's requests on June 20, 1994, April 24, 1995, July 13, 1995, July 31, 1995, and August 16, 1995. The following documents were produced to plaintiff:

 
a. IRS Procedure Memoranda (86 responsive memoranda):
 
Disclosed with redactions: 64
 
Disclosed with limited redactions: 22
 
b. ARB Procedure Memoranda (3 responsive memoranda):
 
Disclosed without redactions: 2
 
Disclosed with limited redactions: 1
 
c. 1991 Program Review Guide: Nothing withheld.
 
d. Statistical Sampling System Users Guide : ...

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