Federal appeals court rules federal advisory committees can withhold ‘predecisional’ records

A federal appeals court held that the State Department could withhold records concerning the U.S. import policies on cultural artifacts from China, Italy and Cyprus. The State Department argued that the recommendations of an advisory committee were “predecisional” or “deliberative” and under the Freedom of Information Act qualify as exemptions.

However, Christine Beckett quotes Sean Mouton of OMB Watch disputing the “predecisional” nature of the recommendations, “I don’t understand how [the recommendations] can be considered anything other than a final decision. They might be predecisional to the agency, but they are the final decision of the committee as a body . . . The committee is an outside body, not a branch of the agency.” -db

From The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, April 19, 2011, by Christine Beckett.

Full story