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Navy Required to Query Database for Production of Relevant Data

Posted in CASE SUMMARIES

Jinks-Umstead v. England, 227 F.R.D. 143 (D.D.C. 2005)

Plaintiff, a Contracting Officer, claimed that decisions by the Navy to reduce staffing and remove her supervisory status were in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The Navy responded that its actions were prompted by legitimate business reasons. A new trial had been ordered, partly because the Navy produced work in place (“WIP”) reports in the middle of the trial despite earlier representations that reports were not available. These reports might show whether staffing changes were appropriately justified. Plaintiff filed four post-trial discovery motions. All were denied, other than the motion to compel the Navy to supplement initial disclosures and responses to requests for production, which was granted in part.

Patricia Holleran (“Holleran”) was plantiff’s supervisor responsible for making staffing recommendations. To help determine these recommendations, Holleran would ask Diane Carney (“Carney”) to obtain reports from the Facilities Information System (“FIS”) database regarding the number and dollar value of contract actions. Carney would supply information in the form of staffing numbers rather than formal reports. Such data was temporarily noted and not retained, although ultimate staffing recommendations were recorded and incorporated into budget and planning documents.

Carney testified that FIS data could be accessed via either pre-written canned reports (such as WIP reports) or customized data queries. The data queries use “flat files” to report WIP, so she only used the R26 standard monthly reports. Carney was only able to access a limited number of WIP reports (apparently produced in the midst of the original trial), but all the underlying data used to create reports remains on the FIS system.

Despite plaintiff failing to take advantage of the opportunity to inspect the FIS system and determine whether additional relevant data could be retrieved, the court required the Navy to supplement its production based on Carney’s testimony. Carney is to recreate the process by which she responded to Holleran’s requests for data in order to supplement the Navy’s production. This includes formulating appropriate queries and consulting standard R26 reports as necessary. Since the frequency of Holleran’s requests could not be determined (except for the fact that they were made when a vacancy needed filling and at the end of each year), Carney is to provide the information on a quarterly basis throughout the relevant time period. The Navy is also to produce all budget and planning documents produced in the relevant time period containing Holleran’s staffing recommendations.