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How to File a Freedom of Information Act Request

For Your Information How to File a Freedom of Information Act Request RESEARCH The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a law that grants access to information from the federal government. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government. 1967 It has been in place since 1967. Federal agencies are required to disclose any information requested under the act unless it falls under one of nine exemptions, which protect interests such as: • Personal privacy • National security • Law enforcement Under the FOIA, agencies must post certain categories of information online, including frequently requested records. Generally any person, U.S. citizen or otherwise, can make a FOIA request. FOIA Requests Received 704,394 714,231 644,165 651,254 597,415 514,541 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 This chart represents fiscal years Request Outcome 180,977 Released in Full FY 2014 211,907 Released in Part FY 2014 38,674 Denied in FullEY 2014 HOW TO FILE A REQUEST CONDUCT BACKGROUND RESEARCH FIRST Before making a request, see if the information is already available to the public. Check out each agency's website. Conduct a search on www.foia.gov/search SEARCH FEDERAL AGENCIES AGENCY NT O STATES USDA EDUCA ARTMENTO UNITED STATES OF AMERICA* U.S. Agency for International Development Department of Agriculture Department of Energy Department of Education SERVICES USA OMMERCE OF IMENT OF DEPARTMEN S. DEPAR & HUMAN, EPARTMENT FOMELAND STATES OF Department of Commerce Department of Defense Department of Health and Human Services Department of Homeland Security OF LABOR OF JUST DEPARTMENT DEPARIMENT OF THE IN ARTMENT EPARTMENT PURBAN DEVGIOPMENT MARCH 3, 1849 STATES OR ANERICA Department of lInterior Department of Justice Department of Labor Department of Housing and Urban Development ENT TRANSPORTATO ARTMENT OF EPARTMENT OF STATES OF 1789 Department of Veterans Affairs Department of State Department of Transportation Department of the Treasury SEPA GSA NASA NSF National Aeronautics and Space Administration General Services Environmental Protection Agency National Science Foundation Administration UNITED STATES SECURITY SBA U.S.NRC USA U.S. Small Business Administration FERSONNEL Nuclear Regulatory Commission Social Security Administration Office of Personnel Small Business Administration Management PRESIDENT CE OF THE TINESIDENT OF ICE OF THE PIRESIDENT Office of Management EXECUTI TAND MENTA STATES STATES RLG CONT STATES Council on Environmental Quality EXECUTI Office of National and Budget Drug Control Policy PRESIDENT ED STATES STATES OF SCIENCE Office of United State EXECUTI Trade Representative TECHNOLOGY CE AND Office of Science and Technology Policy Once you select the agency most likely to have the information you'd like, check: • The agency's FOIA regulations Agency handbooks DECIDE HOW YOU WANT TO SEND YOUR REQUEST Most agencies accept requests in written or electronic form including: MAIL When sending by mail, write "Freedom of Information Request" on the envelope and letter, and retain a copy for your records. WEB FORM EMAIL FAX You may register at foiaonline.regulations.gov to make a request. With registration, you can: • Organize and review requests and appeals on your personal dashboard www • Create requests more efficiently with common request metadata • Modify, withdraw, or appeal a request online NO There is specific form that must be used to make a request DESCRIBE WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR No need to explain the motive for your request, but you must reasonably describe the records you seek. Rather than ask questions, a request must indicate specific records. A record is information in any format including: MAPS PHOTOGRAPHS COMPUTER DISKS ELECTRONIC FORMATS II Agencies must provide information in the format you request (electronic or otherwise) if it is readily reproducible. To request personal records, ask for "all records pertaining to me" and include: FULL NAME ADDRESS DATE AND PLACE OF BIRTH : SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER : KNOW COSTS BEFORE YOU FILE A REQUEST ...... Agencies are allowed to charge different fees depending on who requests the information. COMMERCIAL USERS: Pay reasonable standard charges for document search, review, and duplication EDUCATIONAL OR NONCOMMERCIAL SCIENTIFIC INSTITUTIONS AND NEWS MEDIA: May only be charged for reasonable duplication costs (around $0.10-$0.25 per page) ALL OTHER USERS: May be charged for document search and duplication Except for commercial users, the first two hours of search time and the first 100 pages of copying are always free. You may be entitled to a waiver or reduction if the information could help the general public. If you think you qualify, ask for a waiver in your FOIA letter. REQUEST RESPONSE The law sets specific deadlines to FOIA request replies: 20 working days on the initial request • 20 working days on the administrative appeal The deadline is put on hold if the agency asks for more information. DELAY • At some agencies, delays are common and may last months or years. • If the agency cannot complete your request within 20 working days, they should send a letter acknowledging receipt of the request. • You may call or write to the agency's FOIA contacts to check on the status. DENIAL An agency can deny a request for a number of reasons including: The requester failed to reasonably describe the documents. You may clarify the request and resubmit. The documents may not exist, or may not be in the possession or control of the agency You may challenge the adequacy of the agency's search. The requester is not willing to pay the costs associated with the request. You may challenge the denial of a fee waiver. The records fall within one or more of the Act's nine exemptions. FOIA EXEMPTIONS: National security Internal agency rules Information exempted by another federal statute Trade secrets and confidential commercial or financial information Internal agency memoranda Personal privacy Balances the public's interest in disclosure against invasion of privacy Investigatory records Information compiled for law enforcement purposes Other • The exemptions relate to banking and oil information • Not relevant to most requests More often than not, we have the right to access federal agencies, from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Transportation and all agencies in between. To help prevent additional delay in response time, follow these steps and don't forget to do your research. Brought to you by: In Partnership with: logik ull GHERGICH&Co. foia.com citizen.org foiaonline.regulations.gov ENERGY OF ALIH KUNITED S DEPARTU ORAMERICA SECURITY SESVIN DEFENSE UNITED IREASURY OMIC DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTR CHOUSING NOILY * AMERICA UNITED STA SOCIAL OF STATE * WIN ITED STP FAMERICA OFFICE MANAC DENT NIVINICATES CE OF THE OFFICE OF THE И %24 %24 %24

How to File a Freedom of Information Act Request

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It seems that every few months there’s new documents discovered and released due to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) but not many people know the intricacies of this system. logikull.com has cr...

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