Freedom of Information Act Request/More Info


Freedom of Information Act Request
Additional Information


Background of FOIA

Our federal government, and the information it collects, belongs to the people.  In recognition of this important principle, congress enacted the Freedom of Information Act.  This law provides a mechanism for individuals to request information maintained by agencies in the executive branch (including the White House itself) and also independent regulatory agencies.  FOIA places a burden on the government to show that any requested documents should not be released because of some legitimate need for secrecy.  You may read the complete law at most public libraries and law schools.  The legal citation for FOIA is 5 U.S.C. Section 552.

Covered Federal Agencies

The FOIA applies to any federal 'agency'.  The statute defines an agency to include:

- offices, departments and agencies of the Executive branch (e.g., Agriculture Department and Office of Management and Budget);

- all independent federal regulatory agencies (e.g. Environmental Protection Agency);  and

- Government controlled corporations (e.g. Post Office and Tennessee Valley Authority).


The Home Attorney form follows the type generally used for FOIA requests.  Unlike many requests, it specifically makes request for e-mail and other electronically maintained records.  The obligations of an agency to produce these records is still evolving, so your request may be denied for a number of reasons.  To avoid these issues, you may want to delete or modify this part of the request.

The Agency's Response

Under FOIA, an agency has 10 working days to respond to your request. In reality, they usually take longer. An agency may respond in one of three ways:

- It may grant your request.

- It may claim an exemption and deny all of your request,

- It may provide you copies, but with the exempt information redacted (i.e., blacked out).

- If any part of your request is denied, each agency is required to state the reason for the denial and to provide an administrative appeals procedure to challenge the denial.  You may choose to go through that procedure, or simply accept the denial.  If you do appeal and still do not get the information, you can file suit in federal court to try and force the disclosure.

Resources

Following are addresses and telephone numbers for many federal agencies.  You may want to call the number first to make sure the address is still valid and to ask any procedural or fee questions.  For other agencies, call the local office of the agency if there is one, or call information in Washington, D.C. (area code 202, or sometimes 703) for the agency's telephone number.


Federal Departments 

Department of Agriculture 
Andrea E. Fowler 
FOIA/PA Coordinator 
Room 532A, Whitten Building 
Washington, D.C. 20250-1300 
telephone number: (202) 720-8164 
http://www.usda.gov/news/foia/main.htm


Department of Commerce 
Brenda Dolan 
FOIA/PA Officer, Room 6020 
14th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W. 
Washington, D.C. 20230 
telephone number: (202) 482-4115 
fax number: (202) 482-3270 
e-mail address: bdolan1@doc.gov
http://www.osec.doc.gov/oebam/FOIAWebsite.htm

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 
Marie Marks 
FOIA/PA Officer 
Room 8626, SSMC-4 
1305 East West Highway 
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3281 
telephone number: (301) 713-3540, ext. 211 
fax number: (301) 713-2303 
http://www.rdc.noaa.gov/~foia/

Department of Defense 
Will Kammer 
Directorate for Freedom of Information and Security Review 
Room 2C757 
1155 Defense Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20301-1155 
telephone number: (703) 697-1160 
fax number: (703) 693-7341 
e-mail address: dfoisr@osd.pentagon.mil 
http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/foi/

Air Force 
Anne P. Rollins 
AF-CIO/P, 1155 Air Force Pentagon 
Washington, D.C. 20330-1155 
telephone number: (703) 601-4043 
fax number: (703) 601-4490 
e-mail address: anne.rollins@af.pentagon.mil 
http://www.miself.ang.af.mil/foia/handbook.htm

Army 
Rose Marie Christensen 
TAPC-PDD-FP
7798 Cissna Road, Suite 205