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U.S.

Department of Homeland Security


500 C Street, S.W. Mail Stop 3172
Washington, DC 20472-3172

April 13, 2018

SENT VIA E-MAIL TO: foia@protectdemocracy.org

Ben Berwick
Counsel
The Protect Democracy Project
2020 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20006

Re: FEMA FOIA Case Number 2018-FELI-00002

Dear Mr. Berwick:

This is the final response to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Department
of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). You
submitted a FOIA request dated October 6, 2017 to FEMA. The request was received by FEMA
on October 8, 2017, and acknowledged by this office on October 11, 2017. As it relates to your
request (2018-FEFO-00048), you are seeking a copy of the following:

1. Communications between FEMA and the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the
Office of the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or the DHS
Office of the Public Affairs (OPA) regarding information provided on FEMA’s website
about the federal government’s response to Hurricane Maria and/or recovery efforts in
Puerto Rico;

2. Records on the decision to remove certain statistics related to Puerto Rico’s recovery
from Hurricane Maria from FEMA’s website; and,

3. Records describing the processing of this request, including records sufficient to identify
search terms used and locations and custodians searched, and any tracking sheets used to
track the processing of this request. If your agency uses FOIA questionnaires or
certifications completed by individual custodians or components to determine whether
they possess responsive materials or to describe how they conducted searches, we also
request any such records prepared in connection with the processing of this request.

The timeframe for this request is October 1, 2017 through October 6, 2017.

On October 11, 2017, subsequent to a telephone conversation with this office, you modified your
request to clarify that you are no longer seeking item 3 above.
Benjamin L. Berwick Page 2
FOIA Litigation Case Number 2018-FELI-00002
FEMA FOIA Case Number 2018-FEFO-00048
On February 26, 2018, we produced a total of 148 pages of responsive records and advised that
we were consulting with the White House and DHS regarding the releasibility of the remaining
38 pages.

For this final release (April 13, 2018), FEMA reviewed 38 pages of records located during a
search of FEMA’s Office of External Affairs. Of those pages, and after consultation with the
White House and DHS, I have been advised that thirty-two pages were previously released by
DHS in this litigation. Therefore, I have omitted the thirty-two duplicate pages in this release. I
have determined that the remaining six pages are partially releasable pursuant to Title 5 U.S.C.
§§ 552(b)(5) and (b)(6), FOIA Exemptions 5 and 6.

FOIA Exemption 5 protects from disclosure those inter- or intra-agency documents that are
normally privileged in the civil discovery context. The three most frequently invoked privileges
are the deliberative process privilege, the attorney work-product privilege, and the attorney-client
privilege. After carefully reviewing the responsive documents, we determined that portions of
the responsive documents qualify for protection under the following privilege:

x Deliberative Process Privilege


The deliberative process privilege protects the integrity of the deliberative or
decision-making processes within the agency by exempting from mandatory
disclosure opinions, conclusions, and recommendations included within inter-
agency or intra-agency memoranda or letters. The release of this internal
information would discourage the expression of candid opinions and inhibit the
free and frank exchange of information among agency personnel.

FOIA Exemption 6 exempts from disclosure of personnel or medical files and similar files the
release of which would cause a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. This requires a
balancing of the public’s right to disclosure against the individual’s right to privacy. The privacy
interests of the individuals in the records you have requested outweigh any minimal public
interest in disclosure of the information. Any private interest you may have in that information
does not factor into the aforementioned balancing test.

To date, including this release, FEMA has produced a total of 154 pages of responsive records in
connection with The Protect Democracy Project, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security,
et. al., Case Number 1:17-cv-02440-RC.

If you have any questions concerning this matter, you may call Department of Justice litigation
counsel Matthew Skurnik at (202) 616-8188 or electronically at Matthew.Skurnik@usdoj.gov
and refer to 1:17-cv-02440-RC (DDC).
Benjamin L. Berwick Page 3
FOIA Litigation Case Number 2018-FELI-00002
FEMA FOIA Case Number 2018-FEFO-00048

Sincerely,
Digitally signed by ERIC A
ERIC A NEUSCHAEFER
Date: 2018.04.13 13:23:44
NEUSCHAEFER -04'00'

Eric Neuschaefer
Chief, Disclosure Branch
Information Management Division
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Department of Homeland Security

Cc (via email):
Matthew Skurnik

Enclosure: Bates numbered pages FEMA 000149-000154


FEMA 000149
FEMA 000150
FEMA 000151
FEMA 000152
FEMA 000153
FEMA 000154