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Public Citizen v. Office of Management and Budget (2007)

Public Citizen filed a complaint on February 28, 2007 against the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) over the agency’s refusal to disclose lists of agencies that can submit legislative and budgetary materials directly to Congress without first submitting them to OMB for clearance.

Under OMB Circulars A-11 and A-19, agencies must submit proposed legislation, reports, testimony, and budget-related materials to OMB for “coordination and clearance” before transmitting them to Congress. However, some agencies are required by statute to transmit their legislative or budgetary materials directly to Congress, and OMB allows some agencies to bypass the legislative or budgetary clearance processes even though no statutory authority requires it. OMB denied Public Citizen’s Freedom of Information Act request for records listing the agencies that can directly submit legislative and budgetary material to Congress, claiming that they were exempt from disclosure as predominantly internal records whose release would risk circumvention of the law and because they were covered by the deliberative process privilege.

After the district court ruled in favor of OMB, Public Citizen appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which concluded that the records were not predominantly internal and that the majority of them were also not predecisional and deliberative. OMB then released the requested records.