32 CFR § 536.16 - Release of information policies.

§ 536.16 Release of information policies.

(a) Conflict of interest. Except as part of their official duties, government personnel are forbidden from advising or representing claimants or from receiving any payment or gratuity for services rendered. They may not accept any share or interest in a claim or assist in its presentation, under penalty of federal criminal law (18 U.S.C. 203 and 205).

(b) Release of information.

(1) Relevant statutes pertinent to the release of information include the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. 552a and 552b, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552 and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), 42 U.S.C. 1320d through 1320d-8.

(2) It is the policy of USARCS that unclassified attorney work product may be released with or without a request from the claimant or attorney, whenever such release may help settle the claim or avoid unnecessary litigation.

(3) A statutory exemption or privilege may not be waived. Similarly, documents subject to such statutorily required nondisclosure, exemption, or privilege may not be released. Regarding other exemptions and privileges, authorities may waive such exemptions or privileges and direct release of the protected documents, upon balancing all pertinent factors, including finding that release of protected records will not harm the government's interest, will promote settlement of a claim and will avoid unnecessary litigation, or for other good cause.

(4) All requests for records and information made pursuant to the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. 552, the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. 552a, or HIPAA, 42 U.S.C. 1320d, will be processed in accordance with the procedures set forth in AR 25-55 and AR 340-21, respectively as well as 45 CFR Parts 160 and 164, DODD 6025.18-R, this part, and DA Pam 27-162.

(i) Any request for DOD records that either explicitly or implicitly cites the FOIA shall be processed under the provisions of AR 25-55. Requests for DOD records submitted by a claimant or claimant's attorney will be processed under both the FOIA and under the Privacy Act when the request is made by the subject of the records requested and those records are maintained in a system of records. Such requests will be processed under the FOIA time limits and the Privacy Act fee provisions. Withheld information must be exempt from disclosure under both Acts.

(ii) Requests that cite both Acts or neither Act are processed under both Acts, using the FOIA time limits and the Privacy Act fee provisions. For further guidance, see AR 25-55, paragraphs 1-301 and 1-503.

(5) The following records may not be disclosed:

(i) Medical quality assurance records exempt from disclosure pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 1102(a).

(ii) Records exempt from disclosure pursuant to appropriate balancing tests under FOIA exemption (6) (clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy), exemption (7)(c) (reasonably constitutes unwarranted invasion of privacy), and law enforcement records (5 U.S.C. § 552(b)) unless requested by the subject of the record.

(iii) Records protected by the Privacy Act.

(iv) Records exempt from disclosure pursuant to FOIA exemption (1) (National security) (5 U.S.C. 552(b)), unless such records have been properly declassified.

(v) Records exempt from disclosure pursuant to the attorney-client privilege under FOIA exemption (5) (5 U.S.C. 552(b)), unless the client consents to the disclosure.

(6) Records within a category for which withholding of the record is discretionary (AR 25-55, paragraph 3-101), such as exemptions under the deliberative process or attorney work product privileges (exemption (5) (5 U.S.C. 552(b)) may be released when there is no foreseeable harm to government interests in the judgment of the releasing authority.

(7) When it is determined that exempt information should not be released, or a question as to its releaseability exists, forward the request and two copies of the responsive documents to the Commander USARCS. The Commander USARCS, acting on behalf of TJAG (the initial denial authority), may deny release of records processed under the FOIA only. The Commander USARCS, will forward to TJAG all such requests processed under both the FOIA and PA. TJAG is the denial authority for Privacy Act requests (AR 340-21, paragraph 1-7i).

(c) Claims assistance. In the vicinity of a field exercise, maneuver or disaster, claims personnel may disseminate information on the right to present claims, procedures to be followed, and the names and location of claims officers and the COE repair teams. When the government of a foreign country in which U.S. Armed Forces are stationed has assumed responsibility for the settlement of certain claims against the United States, officials of that country will be furnished as much pertinent information and evidence as security considerations permit.