FAHY, Senior Circuit Judge:
The case arose in the District Court on complaint of plaintiffs-appellants under the Freedom of Information Act (the Act), 5 U.S.C. § 552 (1970). Appellants, law students enrolled in a clinical legal education seminar, seek disclosure by the Renegotiation Board (the Board) of three categories of documents regarding eight named corporations that have entered into national defense contracts with certain Departments or agencies of the United States government.
Congress charged the Renegotiation Board with the responsibility of eliminating excessive profits earned on contracts between national defense contractors and the United States. 50 U.S.C. App. § 1217 (1970). Those holding contracts subject to the Renegotiation Act are required to submit to the Board various forms detailing receipts, accruals, cost and profits relating to the performance of such contracts. 50 U.S.C.App. § 1215(e) (1) (1970). If it appears on the basis of these reports that excessive profits may have been earned, the Board is authorized to enter into renegotiation proceedings to "endeavor to make an agreement with the contractor or subcontractor with respect to the elimination of excessive profits. . . ." 50 U.S.C.App. § 1215(a) (1970), as amended (Supp. I, 1971). If no agreement is reached during these informal negotiations, the Board shall enter an order determining the amount of excessive profits. 50 U.S.C.App. § 1215(a) (1970), as amended (Supp. I, 1971). Upon entry of such an order, a contractor may file a petition with the Court of Claims for a de novo proceeding to redetermine the amount of excessive profits. 50 U.S.C. App. § 1218 (1970), as amended (Supp. I, 1971).
Under section 552(a) (2) of the Freedom of Information Act each agency must make available for public inspection and copying in accordance with published rules inter alia "final opinions, including concurring and dissenting opinions, as well as orders, made in the adjudication of cases. . . ." Pursuant to this section, appellants seek disclosure of certain Unilateral Orders, Statements of Determination and the Agreements to Eliminate Excess Profits. That these documents come within the category of "final opinions" is not questioned. Appellants seek a second and a third category of documents pursuant to section 552(a) (3) of the Act, which requires disclosure of "identifiable records." The second category comprises the following information forms submitted to the Board from the eight named contractors from July 1, 1964, to June 30, 1969: the Standard Form of Contractors Report for Renegotiation, Statements of Nonapplicability of the Renegotiation Act, and Reports of Self-Exemption. In the third category are transcripts or minutes of meetings held in connection with the agreements to eliminate excessive profits.
Our decisions interpreting the Act require the courts to be hospitable to disclosure, Bristol-Myers v. FTC, 138 U.S.App.D.C. 22, 424 F.2d 935 (1970); Soucie v. David, 145 U.S.App.D.C. 144, 448 F.2d 1067 (1971), especially where no problem of identification of information requested is involved. See Irons v. Schulyer, 151 U.S.App.D.C. 23, 465 F.2d 608 (1972). The exceptions to disclosure are to be narrowly construed. Soucie v. David, supra. It follows that if the trial court decides the agency is not required to respond to a request for information under the Act the court must identify the exemption which supports non-disclosure. Bristol-Myers v. FTC, supra; Soucie v. David, supra; Ackerley v. Ley, 137 U.S.App.D.C. 133, 420 F.2d 1336 (1969).
We consider now the request for disclosure of the final orders and opinions, the first category. In granting the Board's motion for summary judgment, though no reasons were stated, the District Court apparently relied upon Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp. v. Renegotiation Board, 138 U.S. App.D.C. 147, 425 F.2d 578 (1970), as authorizing disclosure of the contents of the documents with deletion by the Board of details identifying the contractors. Such deletions, it appears, were made on the assumption either that Grumman afforded protection to anonymity per se, or that the opinions and orders contained information of a confidential character within Exemption 4
On the remand of this case, therefore, the District Court should first determine in an in camera proceeding whether the commercial and financial data contained in the requested opinions and orders, with details identifying the contractors not deleted, were independently confidential within the meaning of Exemption 4. If the court finds that any of such information is exempt from disclosure, then the deletion of the identifying details which have been made by the Board shall not be disturbed, since such information has already been disclosed in this case. If, on the other hand, the court finds that none of the information is independently exempt from disclosure, then the court shall order disclosure of the identifying details previously deleted.
We now consider the request for disclosure of the information forms, namely, the Standard Form of Contractor's Report for Renegotiation, Statement of Non-Applicability, and the data required to be set forth in the Contractor's Report of Self-Exemption. These documents, comprising the second category, are submitted by the contractors and do not, like Board orders and opinions, represent governmental action. The Board contends that these documents are protected from disclosure by reason of Exemption 4 as confidential commercial and financial information received from persons outside the Government. We apply to these documents
138 U.S.App.D.C. at 151, 425 F.2d at 582.
There remains the request for the minutes of the meetings held in connection with the agreements of the companies to eliminate excessive profits. The record before us does not explain the nature of the records made of such meetings in a manner to enable us to pass upon the disclosure obligation of the Board. The brief of the Board describes these "minutes" as merely memoranda summarizing the results of the meetings with the contractors. The Board defends non-disclosure of these memoranda under 5 U.S.C. § 552(b) (5) (1970), which exempts from disclosure,
As we have pointed out, in refusing to require disclosure the trial court gave no reason. We do not know whether the court considered Exemption 5 now relied upon by the Board to apply. Assuming, however, that the court did act upon the basis of Exemption 5, further exploration and explanation by the District Court are required. One of the principles to guide the court is whether the memoranda
Freeman v. Seligson, 132 U.S.App.D.C. 56, 69, 405 F.2d 1326, 1339 (1968), citing Boeing Airplane Co. v. Coggeshall, 108 U.S.App.D.C. 106, 112, 280 F.2d 654, 660 (1960), Machin v. Zuckert, 114 U.S. App.D.C. 335, 338, 316 F.2d 336, 339, cert. denied, 375 U.S. 896, 84 S.Ct. 172, 11 L.Ed.2d 124 (1963), V.E.B. Carl Zeiss, Jena v. Clark, 128 U.S.App.D.C. 10, 384 F.2d 979, cert. denied, 389 U.S. 952, 88 S.Ct. 334, 19 L.Ed.2d 361 (1967). Freeman and the cases above referred to were not decided under the Freedom of Information Act, but under discovery principles otherwise applicable to civil litigation. Nevertheless, in support of its statement that the claim, if supported, would preclude disclosure of the documents, the court in a lengthy footnote following the text above quoted pointed out that Exemption 5 of the Act covered "[i]nter-agency or intra-agency memorandum or letters which would not be available by law to a private party in litigation with the agency." The Court in Freeman
H.R.Rep.No.1497, 89th Cong., 2d Sess. 10 (1966), U.S.Code Cong. & Admin. News, 1966, p. 2427. See also S.Rep. No.813, 89th Cong., 1st Sess. 9 (1965).
The District Court should examine in camera the memoranda to determine whether they contain recommendations or deliberations in the course of decision making — or exchange of views in that process within the agency — which would bring them within Exemption 5.
Appellants contend that even such "policy-making" documents lose whatever intra-agency, non-disclosure, status they may have had, once the agency's action has been publicly announced, citing American Mail Line, Ltd. v. Gulick, 133 U.S.App.D.C. 382, 411 F.2d 696 (1969). We think Gulick is not so to be construed. In the special circumstances there before the court, the intra-agency document sought to be disclosed was explicitly relied upon and referred to in the published opinion:
133 U.S.App.D.C. at 389, 411 F.2d at 703. Accordingly the memorandum had lost its intra-agency character. It is not lost, however, merely by the circumstance that the process of decision has been completed. Exemption 5 applies according to the character of the memoranda, and not according to their chronological position in the decision-making process of which they might have been a part. There might be exceptions due to the passage of time, or to some special over-riding circumstance, but we need not speculate about such exceptions in this case.
Grant of the Board's motion for summary judgment is reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.