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Why does the USGS invoke Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Exemption 5 (deliberative process privilege)?

FOIA Exemption 5 (deliberative process privilege) applies to inter-agency or intra-agency records where, for instance, there is a work product that is in draft format or documents that contain deliberations between parties leading up to a decision (including what to publish or not to publish in one of our products).

The purpose of the privilege is to:

  • Encourage open, frank discussions on matters of policy between subordinates and superiors;

  • Protect against premature disclosure of proposed policies before they are adopted or draft publications/products before they are published;

  • Protect against public confusion that might result from disclosure of reason and rationales that were not, in fact, ultimately the grounds for a bureau’s action.  

For more information, see the Department of Justice FOIA Guide, page 13.