Information on the FOIA Exemptions

Some of the VA OIG documents available on this website have content redacted from them. Redaction means that information or content has been deleted or removed as allowed or required by law. In our documents available via the Internet, redacted content is shown as follows:

·(b)(6)· · · · ·

The letter and number in parenthesis indicates the exemption cited for redacting the information.

The Freedom of Information Act contains nine exemptions to disclosure of VA OIG information:
[Note: These are only partial descriptions of each exemption. For more information, visit the Department of Justice's Office of Information and Privacy home page.] (Our disclaimer for this link)

Exemption 1 [5 U.S.C. §552(b)(1)]

Permits withholding information that is classified for national security purposes.

Exemption 2 [5 U.S.C. §552(b)(2)]

Permits withholding internal information that relates solely to personnel rules and practice.. There are generally two types of information that may be withheld under this exemption:

  • Information that may enable a requestor to circumvent a statute or agency regulation or to hinder the effective performance of the Department.
  • Information on internal matters that are more or less trivial in the sense that there is no substantial and legitimate public interest in its disclosure.

Exemption 3 [5 U.S.C. §552(b)(3)]

Permits withholding of records or information if a law specifically exempts the material from disclosure. The following laws comprise the majority of withholdings under this exemption:

  • Inspector General Act of 1978 (Pub. L. 95-452), §7, "Complaints by Employees; Disclosure of Identity; Reprisals": Prohibits the VA OIG from disclosing the identity of an employee, without the employee's consent, when that employee has filed a complaint or information with the VA OIG.
  • 38 U.S.C. §5701, "Confidential Nature of Claims": Prohibits the disclosure of files, reports, records, and other documents and papers that pertain to any claim filed under any laws administered by VA.
  • 38 U.S.C. §5705, "Confidentiality of Medical Quality Assurance Records": Prohibits the disclosure of records and documents created by VA as part of a medical quality assurance program.
  • 38 U.S.C. §7332, "Confidentiality of Certain Medical Records": Prohibits the disclosure of records that contain the identity, diagnosis, prognosis, testing, or treatment of any patient in connection with drug abuse, alcoholism or alcohol abuse, human immunodeficiency virus, or sickle cell anemia.
  • 35 U.S.C. §205, "Confidentiality": Authorizes the VA OIG to withhold information pertaining to any invention in which the Federal government owns or may own a right, title, or interest.

Exemption 4 [5 U.S.C. §552(b)(4)]

Permits trade secrets and other confidential business information furnished to VA from outside the Government to be withheld.

Exemption 5 [5 U.S.C. §552(b)(5)]

Permits the withholding of information under the deliberative process privilege, including predecisional documents, or information that could be withheld under civil discovery, attorney-client, or attorney-work product privileges.

Exemption 6 [5 U.S.C. §552(b)(6)]

Permits withholding records and information about individuals when disclosure would be a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

Exemption 7 [5 U.S.C. §552(b)(7)(A) - (b)(7)(F)]

Permits withholding investigatory records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes where:
(A) Interference with law enforcement proceedings can be reasonably expected.
(B) A person would be deprived of a fair trial or an impartial adjudication.
(C) An unwarranted invasion of personal privacy could reasonably be expected.
(D) Revealing a confidential source or information provided by a confidential source could reasonably be expected
(E) Techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions would be disclosed or guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions would be disclosed, provided such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law.
(F) Endangering the safety or life of any individual could reasonably be expected.

Exemption 8 [5 U.S.C. §552(b)(8)]

Permits withholding records relating to the examination of banks and other financial institutions by agencies that regulate or supervise them.

Exemption 9 [5 U.S.C. §552(b)(9)]

Permits withholding records relating to geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells.