Last Update: 9/14/05 (Transmittal I-1-56)
OPPE will review the discovery request, determine which OHA component(s) has the needed information and coordinate OHA's submission of information. OPPE will provide the appropriate OHA component with a copy of the request and ask for its assistance and cooperation in providing the necessary information.
The component must provide OPPE with responses to all information requested. If information is not available, the responsible component must explain why it is not available; e.g., no such records were kept, records were destroyed, etc. If information is available, but obtaining it would be extremely burdensome, the responsible component must provide OPPE a complete explanation of the burden involved and OPPE will discuss the matter with OGC. As noted above, in appropriate situations, the Agency may ask the court to limit discovery that is unduly burdensome. OPPE must furnish information to OGC on burden well in advance of any court due dates to allow OGC time to consider whether there is sufficient basis to file a motion to restrict the discovery and, if so, time to prepare the motion.
Although the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) do not require SSA to disclose privileged information to plaintiffs, SSA components must furnish privileged information to OGC, in order for OGC and DOJ to determine if it is appropriate to assert a claim of privilege, and if so, to prepare their arguments. OPPE must make clear in its response to OGC staff which information is not to be disclosed on the basis that it is privileged. This is necessary, because in order to assert a privilege, a party must describe the nature of the information being withheld in a manner that does not reveal the privileged information, but which enables other parties to assess the applicability of the privilege.