Code of the District of Columbia

§ 2–534. Exemptions from disclosure.

(a) The following matters may be exempt from disclosure under the provisions of this subchapter:

(1) Trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from outside the government, to the extent that disclosure would result in substantial harm to the competitive position of the person from whom the information was obtained;

(2) Information of a personal nature where the public disclosure thereof would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;

(2A) Any body-worn camera recordings recorded by the Metropolitan Police Department:

(A) Inside a personal residence; or

(B) Related to an incident involving domestic violence as defined in § 4-551(1), stalking as defined in § 22-3133, or sexual assault as defined in § 23-1907(a)(7).

(3) Investigatory records compiled for law-enforcement purposes, including the records of Council investigations and investigations conducted by the Office of Police Complaints, but only to the extent that the production of such records would:.

(A) Interfere with:

(i) Enforcement proceedings;

(ii) Council investigations; or

(iii) Office of Police Complaints ongoing investigations;

(B) Deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication;

(C) Constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;

(D) Disclose the identity of a confidential source and, in the case of a record compiled by a law-enforcement authority in the course of a criminal investigation, or by an agency conducting a lawful national security intelligence investigation, confidential information furnished only by the confidential source;

(E) Disclose investigative techniques and procedures not generally known outside the government; or

(F) Endanger the life or physical safety of law-enforcement personnel;

(4) Inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters, including memorandums or letters generated or received by the staff or members of the Council, which would not be available by law to a party other than a public body in litigation with the public body.

(5) Test questions and answers to be used in future license, employment, or academic examinations, but not previously administered examinations or answers to questions thereon;

(6) Information specifically exempted from disclosure by statute (other than this section), provided that such statute:

(A) Requires that the matters be withheld from the public in such a manner as to leave no discretion on the issue; or

(B) Establishes particular criteria for withholding or refers to particular types of matters to be withheld;

(7) Information specifically authorized by federal law under criteria established by a presidential executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy which is in fact properly classified pursuant to such executive order;

(8) Information exempted from disclosure by § 28-4505;

(9) Information disclosed pursuant to § 5-417;

(10) Any specific response plan, including any District of Columbia response plan, as that term is defined in § 7-2301(1), and any specific vulnerability assessment, either of which is intended to prevent or to mitigate an act of terrorism, as that term is defined in § 22-3152(1);

(11) Information exempt from disclosure by § 47-2851.06;

(12) Information, the disclosure of which would reveal the name of an employee providing information under subchapter XV-A of Chapter 6 of Title 1 [§ 1-615.51 et seq.] and subchapter XII of Chapter 2 of this title [2-233.01 et seq.], unless the name of the employee is already known to the public;

(13) Information exempt from disclosure by § 7-2271.04;

(14) Information that is ordered sealed and restricted from public access pursuant to Chapter 8 of Title 16;

(15) Any critical infrastructure information or plans that contain critical infrastructure information for the critical infrastructures of companies that are regulated by the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia; and

(16) Information exempt from disclosure pursuant to §  38-2615.

(a-1)(1) The Council may assert, on behalf of any public body from which it obtains records or information, any exemption listed in subsection (a) of this section that could be asserted by the public body pertaining to the records or information.

(2) Disclosure of any public record, document, or information from a District of Columbia government agency, official, or employee to the following persons or entities shall not constitute a waiver of any privilege or exemption that otherwise could be asserted by the District of Columbia to prevent disclosure to the general public or in a judicial or administrative proceeding:

(A) The Council;

(B) A Council committee;

(C) A member of the Council acting in an official capacity;

(D) The District of Columbia Auditor; or

(E) An employee of the Office of the District of Columbia Auditor.

(b) Any reasonably segregable portion of a public record shall be provided to any person requesting the record after deletion of those portions which may be withheld from disclosure pursuant to subsection (a) of this section. In each case, the justification for the deletion shall be explained fully in writing, and the extent of the deletion shall be indicated on the portion of the record which is made available or published, unless including that indication would harm an interest protected by the exemption in subsection (a) of this section under which the deletion is made. If technically feasible, the extent of the deletion and the specific exemptions shall be indicated at the place in the record where the deletion was made.

(c) This section does not authorize withholding of information or limit the availability of records to the public, except as specifically stated in this section. This section is not authority to withhold information from the Council of the District of Columbia. This section shall not operate to permit nondisclosure of information of which disclosure is authorized or mandated by other law.

(d) The provisions of this subchapter shall not apply to the Vital Records Act of 1981.

(e) All exemptions available under this section shall apply to the Council as well as agencies of the District government. The deliberative process privilege, the attorney work-product privilege, and the attorney-client privilege are incorporated under the inter-agency memoranda exemption listed in subsection (a)(4) of this section, and these privileges, among other privileges that may be found by the court, shall extend to any public body that is subject to this subchapter.


(Oct. 21, 1968, Pub. L. 90-614, title II, § 204; as added Mar. 25, 1977, D.C. Law 1-96, § 2, 23 DCR 9532b; Mar. 5, 1981, D.C. Law 3-169, § 3(c), 27 DCR 5368; Oct. 8, 1981, D.C. Law 4-34, § 29(i), 28 DCR 3271; June 19, 1982, D.C. Law 4-119, § 2(f), 29 DCR 1952; Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-283, § 3(d), 48 DCR 1917; Oct. 17, 2002, D.C. Law 14-194, § 302, 49 DCR 5306; Oct. 28, 2003, D.C. Law 15-38, § 3(b), 50 DCR 6913; Mar. 17, 2005, D.C. Law 15-256, § 2(b), 52 DCR 1158; Apr. 13, 2005, D.C. Law 15-354, § 83(a), 52 DCR 2638; Apr. 7, 2006, D.C. Law 16-91, § 132(b), 52 DCR 10637; Sept. 19, 2006, D.C. Law 16-152, § 2, 53 DCR 5371; Mar. 14, 2007, D.C. Law 16-262, § 231, 54 DCR 794; May 5, 2007, D.C. Law 16-307, § 3(a), 54 DCR 868; June 13, 2008, D.C. Law 17-176, § 5, 55 DCR 5390; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-353,§ 174, 56 DCR 1117; Mar. 11, 2010, D.C. Law 18-119, § 3, 57 DCR 906; Feb. 26, 2015, D.C. Law 20-160, § 2(a), 61 DCR 10735; Oct. 22, 2015, D.C. Law 21-36, § 4063, 62 DCR 10905; Mar. 9, 2016, D.C. Law 21-83, § 2(b), 63 DCR 774.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 1-1524.

1973 Ed., § 1-1524.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 1-301.89a, § 1-309.13, § 1-610.64, § 2-532, § 2-533, § 2-537, § 8-105.09, § 8-634.03, and § 8-1321.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 13-283 rewrote subsec. (b) which prior thereto read:

“(b) Any reasonably segregable portion of a public record shall be provided to any person requesting such record after deletion of those portions which may be withheld from disclosure under subsection (a) of this section.”

D.C. Law 14-194 made nonsubstantive changes to subsecs. (a)(8) and (a)(9); and added subsec. (a)(10).

D.C. Law 15-38, in subsec. (a), made nonsubstantive changes to pars. (9) and (10), and added par. (11).

D.C. Law 15-256, in par. (3) of subsec. (a), rewrote the lead-in language which had read: “(3) Investigatory records compiled for law-enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of such records would:” and rewrote subpar. (A) which had read: “(A) Interfere with enforcement proceedings;”; rewrote par. (4) of subsec. (a); and added par. (12) of subsec. (a) and subsecs. (a-1) and (e). Prior to amendment, par. (4) of subsec. (a) read:

“(4) Inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency;”.

D.C. Law 15-354, in subsec. (a), validated a previously made technical correction.

D.C. Law 16-91, in pars. (a)(10) and (11), validated previously made technical changes; and, in subsec. (e), substituted “this subchapter” for “this chapter”.

D.C. Law 16-152, in subsec. (a)(3), substituted “investigations and investigations conducted by the Office of Police Complaints” for “investigations” in the lead-in language, rewrote subpar. (A), and inserted “or” at the end of subpar. (E); and, in subsec. (e), deleted “executive branch” preceding “agencies”. Prior to amendment, subpar. (A) of subsec. (a)(3) read as follows: “(A) Interfere with enforcement proceedings, or with Council investigations;”

D.C. Law 16-262 added subsec. (a)(13).

D.C. Law 16-307 added subsec. (a)(14).

D.C. Law 17-176, in subsec. (a-1), designated the existing text as par. (1) and added par. (2).

D.C. Law 17-353 validated previously made technical corrections in subsecs. (a)(12), (13).

D.C. Law 18-119 rewrote subsec. (a-1)(2), which read as follows: “(2) Disclosure of documents from a District of Columbia government agency, official, or employee to the Council, including an employee of the Office of the District of Columbia Auditor, a Council committee, or a member of the Council acting in an official capacity, shall not constitute a waiver of any privilege that otherwise could be asserted by the District of Columbia to prevent disclosure of the documents in a judicial or administrative proceeding.”

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 20-160 added (a)(15) and made related changes.

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 21-36 added (a)(16) and made related changes.

The 2016 amendment by D.C. Law 21-83 added (a)(2A).

Cross References

Environmental controls, wastewater control, confidential or privileged information, exemption from disclosure, grounds for exemption, see § 8-105.09.

Hazardous waste management, confidential or privileged information, exemption from disclosure, grounds for exemption, see § 8-1321.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 3 of Master Business Registration Delay Emergency Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-595, January 7, 2003, 50 DCR 647).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 3 of Master Business Registration Delay Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2003 (D.C. Act 15-73, April 16, 2003, 50 DCR 3616).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 3 of Master Business Registration Second Delay Emergency Act of 2003 (D.C. Act 15-83, May 19, 2003, 50 DCR 4100).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 3(b) of Streamlining Regulation Emergency Act of 2003 (D.C. Act 15-145, August 11, 2003, 50 DCR 6896).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see §§ 2(a) and 3 of Freedom of Information Legislative Records Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2003 (D.C. Act 15-190, October 24, 2003, 50 DCR 9499.)

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of Freedom of Information Legislative Records Clarification Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2004 (D.C. Act 15-372, February 19, 2004, 51 DCR 2611).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(b) of Freedom of Information Legislative Records Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2004 (D.C. Act 15-591, November 1, 2004, 51 DCR 10729).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(b) of Freedom of Information Legislative Records Clarification Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2005 (D.C. Act 16-23, February 17, 2005, 52 DCR 2975).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2 of Office of Police Complaints Emergency Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-379, May 19, 2006, 53 DCR 4403).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2 of Office of Police Complaints Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-524, November 7, 2006, 53 DCR 9273).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(a) of the Critical Infrastructure Freedom of Information Emergency Amendment Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-229, November 29, 2013, 60 DCR 16788, 20 DCSTAT 2630).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(a) of the Critical Infrastructure Freedom of Information Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2014 (D.C. Act 20-285, February 20, 2014, 61 DCR 1603).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 3 of the Educator Evaluation Data Collection Emergency Amendment Act of 2014, (D.C. Act 20-328, May 22, 2014, 61 DCR 5361).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(a) of the Critical Infrastructure Freedom of Information Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2014 (D.C. Act 20-459, Oct. 24, 2014, 61 DCR 11374, 20 STAT 4364).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(a) of the Critical Infrastructure Freedom of Information Third Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2014 (D.C. Act 20-580, Jan. 13, 2015, 62 DCR 1264, 21 STAT 730).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 3 of the Educator Evaluation Data Protection Emergency Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-35, Mar. 30, 2015, 62 DCR 4546, 21 DCSTAT 874).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 4063 of the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-127, July 27, 2015, 62 DCR 10201).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of the Body-Worn Camera Program Emergency Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-253, Dec. 30, 2015, 63 DCR 271).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 3 of the Master Business Registration Delay Temporary Act of 2003 (D.C. Law 14-302, May 3, 2003, law notification 50 DCR 3776).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of the Freedom of Information Legislative Records Clarification Temporary Amendment Act of 2003 (D.C. Law 15-83, March 10, 2004, law notification 51 DCR 3375).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(a) of the Critical Infrastructure Freedom of Information Temporary Amendment Act of 2013 (D.C. Law 20-71, February 22, 2014, 61 DCR 27).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 3 of the Educator Evaluation Data Collection Temporary Amendment Act of 2014 (D.C. Law 20-132, Aug. 8, 2014, 61 DCR 6338).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 3 of the Educator Evaluation Data Protection Temporary Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Law 21-6, June 4, 2015, 62 DCR 4562).

References in Text

The “Vital Records Act of 1981”, referred to in subsection (d), is D.C. Law 4-34.

Editor's Notes

Section 3 of D.C. Law 15-256 provided: “Sec. 3. Applicability. This act shall apply with respect to any requests for records pending on the effective date of this act, whether or not the request was made prior to that date, and shall apply to any civil action pending on that date.”