Official Use Only (OUO) information is certain unclassified information that may be exempt from public release under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and has the potential to damage governmental, commercial, or private interests if given to persons who do not need to know the information to perform their jobs or other DOE authorized activites.
Who can determine what information is OUO?
You do! Ask yourself: does the information have the potential to damage governmental, commercial, or private interests if given to persons who do not need the information to perfor their jobs? Does it fall under at least one of the FOIA exemptions? If both answers are yes, then the information is OUO.
Freedom of Information Act Exemptions
The FOIA generally provides that any information in a document in the Federal Government's possession must be publicly released upon request unless such information falls under one of nine exemptions.
Pertains to information that is classified by Executive Order; this information is never OUO.
Exemption 2-Circumvention of Statute
Primarily protects informationthat could benifit someone attempting to violate a law or agency regulation and avoid detection. Examples include: audit criteria, guidelines for investigations.
Exemption 3- Statutory Exemption
Protects information whose disclosure is specifically prohibited by law and not otherwise controlled. Examples: some Export Controlled Information (ECI), ITAR, EAR, Patent Caution.
Protects trade secrets or confidential business information. Examples: Commercial & business confidential information, trade secrets, financial information, cost data.
Exemption 5- Privileged Information
Protects interagency or intra-agency memos or letters not available by law unless part of litigation. Examples: Comments on options for a project or decision yet to be made, evaluations, appraisal results (technical) or programmatic.
Exemption 6-Personal Privacy Information
Protects information that could cause an individual personal distress or embarrassment, or information designated as Privacy Act-this exemption is for information that is collected by SNL on behalf of the federal government.
Exemption 7-Law Enforcement; Exemption 8-Financial Institutions; Exemption 9 Wells;
These exemptions are not commonly used at SNL. Refer to DOE Order 471.3 for additional information.
Note: OUO designation does not automatically exempt a document from public release under FOIA; the document must be reviewed prior to release.
How do I mark a document that contains OUO?
The Member of the Workforce making the OUO determination ensures that the words "Official Use Only" (or "OUO" if space is limited) are placed on the top and bottom of the front of the document and on the top and bottom of each interior page. In addition, the following marking must appear on the front of the document:
Members of the Workforce fill in the applicable FOIA exemption number and related category name, his/her name and organization, and identifies the guidance used if the determination was based on an official DOE classification guide. Documents should also have the UCI coversheet.
Reproduction-OUO documents may be reproduced to the minimum extent necessary, ensuring that all copies are marked as required.
Destruction- Review all documents for retention requirements before destroying. OUO documents may be destroyed by using a strip cut shredder that produces strips no more than 1/4" wide or any other locally approved method. At SNL/NM, dispose of OUO documents by placing in white destruction bags. At SNL/CA, place in plastic sensitive information disposal containers. Store out of sight in Limited Areas and keep locked in Property Protection Areas. Dispose of cyber media using the gray boxes (NM) (CA, see the "Get Rid of it" web-pages), or the same approved methods for classified cyber media.
Transmission by Mail- Place the document in a sealed, opaque envelope and write, "TO BE OPENED BY ADDRESSEE ONLY" on the outside. Use the SF1008-UCB envelope internally to SNL.
Transmission by Fax- STU/STE fax should be used when faxing whenever possible. It is not required when faxing inside a facility. When sending unencrypted faxes, contact the recipient so they can control the documents upon receipt.
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