Government Operations:

Administrative Markings by Agencies Not Restricting GAO Access to Government Documents

LCD-78-109: Published: Feb 21, 1978. Publicly Released: Feb 21, 1978.

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While most Federal agencies use administrative markings and other identification codes to restrict access to Government documents, a poll of GAO operating divisions did not reveal any specific instance where these markings restricted access to documents. This does not preclude the possibility that, in some instances, data were not made available because of a management decision not to release for review data bearing administrative markings. From time to time, GAO has experienced some problems in gaining access to information in various agencies; these restrictions were not related to administrative markings but to questions concerning authority for access to certain types of data. Under Bid Protest Procedures, access to documentation relevant to the issues raised in the protest and in the possession of the contracting agency may be restricted from the public by law, regulation, or administrative markings. The report GAO receives generally contains all pertinent material. Even if such information is not furnished with the report, GAO encounters little, if any, difficulty in securing it from the agency upon request. A protester may submit a request to the contracting agency under the Freedom of Information Act for material not included in its copy of the agency report. Administrative markings did not prevent the publication of material in the 1975-76 Congressional Sourcebook Series; agencies were told that availability statements could not limit access to data published in the Sourcebooks.

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