[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 45 (Tuesday, March 8, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 12549-12550]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-4988]

Rules and Regulations
                                                Federal Register

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Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 45 / Tuesday, March 8, 2011 / Rules 
and Regulations

[[Page 12549]]


4 CFR Part 81

Public Availability of Government Accountability Office Records

AGENCY: Government Accountability Office.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: This rule is a revision of portions of GAO's records rule. 
These revisions clarify procedures to obtain Government Accountability 
Office (GAO) documents. Published GAO documents such as testimonies, 
reports, and decisions are available to the public on GAO's Web site 
and also may be requested over the telephone. Their wide availability 
eliminates the need for regulations governing their request, and 
accordingly published GAO documents are no longer subject to the 
procedures of this part. The revisions also clarify that records 
compiled for law enforcement purposes by another agency and records 
provided by GAO to another agency for law enforcement purposes are not 
subject to disclosure. The previous regulatory language on this point 
was imprecise. The changes also add steps to the procedures for using 
GAO's public reading facility, to facilitate the efficient use of the 
facility. Finally, the revisions make various housekeeping changes 
reflecting shifts in GAO's operating procedures.
    These changes clarify for the public which GAO documents are 
subject to this part and how to obtain such documents.

DATES: Effective March 8, 2011.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John A. Bielec, Assistant General 
Counsel, 202-512-2846.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Part 81 of Title 4 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations contains the procedures for members of the public to obtain 
GAO documents.
    GAO is amending paragraph (b) of Sec.  81.1 to remove all published 
GAO documents, such as reports and decisions, from this part's purview. 
All such documents are publicly available on GAO's Web site, http://www.gao.gov, and may also be ordered over the telephone. Accordingly, 
regulations governing requests for public disclosure of such documents 
are unnecessary. It is also well established that when an agency makes 
its documents widely available to the public, the agency need not 
reproduce those documents again in response to a Freedom of Information 
Act (FOIA) request. Department of Justice v. Tax Analysts, 492 U.S. 
136, 152 (1989). While GAO is not subject to FOIA, the principle 
applies equally in this context.
    Published GAO documents may be downloaded free of charge from GAO's 
Web site. Print copies may be ordered by telephone, but GAO charges a 
fee to print and ship documents requested this way, as provided in 
Sec.  81.7, which is unchanged by this rule. Under this revised rule, 
GAO will no longer accept requests via fax or mail for published 
documents. Requests for GAO documents not available on GAO's Web site 
remain subject to this part and must be submitted in writing to GAO, 
via either mail or e-mail, in accordance with Sec.  81.4. Technical 
amendments to paragraphs (a) and (c) of Sec.  81.1 are made as needed 
to conform with these changes.
    Paragraph 81.6(g) is amended to clarify the types of documents GAO 
considers to be compiled for law enforcement purposes. Such documents 
are not subject to disclosure under this part.
    Although GAO is not a law enforcement agency, it occasionally 
collects, during the course of its audits and investigations, records 
from law enforcement agencies that those agencies compiled for their 
own law enforcement purposes. While GAO did not compile the records, 
they are nonetheless exempt from disclosure because they were 
originally compiled for law enforcement purposes and may still be used 
for such purposes by the originating agency. Disclosure of such records 
would undermine the originating agency's law enforcement mission.
    During the course of its work, GAO also occasionally receives 
information from non-law enforcement sources that indicates possible 
civil or criminal wrongdoing by another party. GAO forwards such 
information to other Federal, State, or local agencies with enforcement 
jurisdiction over the matter. The receiving agencies may use the 
information for their own investigations, prosecutions, or other law 
enforcement matters. GAO considers such information to be compiled for 
law enforcement purposes if, at the time GAO receives a request under 
this part for the information, the receiving agency advises GAO that 
the information is being, or will be, used by that agency for a law 
enforcement purpose. In these circumstances, GAO's disclosure of the 
information could undermine law enforcement operations. ``Law 
enforcement'' in this context includes civil and administrative as well 
as criminal matters.
    This policy is consistent with the United States Supreme Court's 
ruling that information not originally compiled for law enforcement 
purposes is nevertheless exempt from public disclosure if, at the time 
of a request, it is being used for law enforcement purposes. John Doe 
Agency v. John Doe Corp., 493 U.S. 146, 153-55 (1989).
    Section 81.8 is amended to advise individuals who wish to use GAO's 
public reading facility to schedule an appointment and to have GAO's 
staff determine whether the records sought are included in the public 
reading facility collection.
    Section 81.2 is amended to clarify and identify the entity within 
GAO that administers this part. Section 81.4 is amended to delete 
language that GAO records may be requested via a link on GAO's Web 
site. GAO will continue to accept requests for GAO records by e-mail. 
Paragraph (m) of Sec.  81.6 is amended to correctly identify the entity 
within GAO that operates GAO FraudNet.
    GAO submitted for comment a proposed rule containing these 
amendments, which was published in the Federal Register on November 24, 
2010 (75 FR 71567). GAO received no comments on the proposed rule.
    GAO is not subject to the Administrative Procedure Act.

[[Page 12550]]

List of Subjects in 4 CFR Part 81

    Administrative practice and procedure, Archives and records, 
Computer technology, Electronic products, Freedom of information, 
Public reading room, Requests for records.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, the Government 
Accountability Office amends 4 CFR part 81 as follows:


1. The authority citation for part 81 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  31 U.S.C. 711.

2. Amend Sec.  81.1 to revise the first sentence of paragraph (a), to 
revise paragraph (b), and to add paragraph (c) to read as follows:

Sec.  81.1  Purpose and scope of part.

    (a) This part implements the policy of the U.S. Government 
Accountability Office (GAO) with respect to the public availability of 
GAO records, except as set forth in paragraph (b) of this section. * * 
    (b) GAO published testimonies, reports, decisions, special 
publications, or listings of publications are not included within the 
scope of this part. These documents may be obtained from the GAO Web 
site, http://www.gao.gov, or by telephone at 202-512-6000, TDD 202-512-
2537, or 1-866-801-7077 (toll free). These publications may be 
downloaded free of charge from the GAO Web site. Paper copies requested 
from GAO are subject to a printing, shipping, and handling fee.
    (c) Requests for all other GAO records are within the scope of this 
part and should be submitted to GAO as directed in paragraph (a) of 
Sec.  81.4.

3. Revise Sec.  81.2 to read as follows:

Sec.  81.2  Administration.

    GAO's Chief Quality Officer administers this part and may 
promulgate such supplemental rules or regulations as may be necessary.

4. In Sec.  81.4, remove the second sentence of paragraph (a).

5. Amend Sec.  81.6 to revise paragraph (g) and the sentence following 
the italic heading in paragraph (m) to read as follows:

Sec.  81.6  Records which may be exempt from disclosure.

* * * * *
    (g) Records compiled for law enforcement purposes that originate in 
another agency, or records provided by GAO to another agency for law 
enforcement purposes.
* * * * *
    (m) * * * Records obtained by the GAO Forensic Audits and Special 
Investigations (GAO FraudNet) are an example of records that could 
contain information covered by this exemption.

6. Amend Sec.  81.8 to add a new second sentence, and to revise the 
last sentence as follows:

Sec.  81.8  Public reading facility.

    * * * To determine if a record is part of the public reading 
facility collection and to schedule an appointment to visit the 
facility, contact the Library reference desk at 202-512-2585. The 
facility is open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. except 
Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays.

Lynn H. Gibson,
General Counsel, U.S. Government Accountability Office.
[FR Doc. 2011-4988 Filed 3-7-11; 8:45 am]