FOIA Request Q's & A's
- Who can file a FOIA request?
- How do I submit a FOIA request?
- What is type of information can be requested?
- Can I ask questions under the FOIA?
- What is the relationship between the FOIA and Privacy Act?
- Can I appeal a denial?
- How long will it take for my request to be processed?
- Do I have to pay for a FOIA request?
1. Who can file a FOIA request?
Any "person" can file a FOIA request, including U.S. citizens, foreign government nationals, organizations, universities, businesses, and state and local governments. Federal Government employees may not file FOIA requests in their official capacity and cannot use government resources (government email addresses, work mailing address, etc). However, they may submit a FOIA request in their personal capacity, using a home or P. O. Box address, home or cell phone number and/or a personal non-government e-mail address.
2. How do I submit a FOIA request?
Before you submit a request, please check the Reading Room for documents already released to the public. If you are unable to find the documents you are seeking in the Reading Room, you may submit a request following the instructions under Submit a Request.
3. What type of information can be requested?
Documents already in existence that are in the possession and control of the federal agencies listed in question 3. A document is the product of data compilation, such as books, papers, maps, photographs, and machine readable materials, including those in electronic form or format, or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by an agency of the U.S. Government under Federal law in connection with the transaction of public business and in the agency's possession and control at the time the FOIA request is made. Documents submitted voluntarily to the U.S. Government (for example brochures) and documents specifically exempted by separate law (for example, contract proposals) are not subject to the FOIA.
4. Can I ask questions under the FOIA?
The FOIA does not require Federal agencies to answer questions, render opinions, or provide subjective evaluations. Requesters must ask for existing documents, such as those mentioned above.
5. What is the relationship between the FOIA and Privacy Act?
You may request documents under the FOIA and/or Privacy Acts through this office. Privacy Act requests are typically more narrow and focus on an individual's personal documents from a "system of records" (for example, personnel files). This office will assume that FOIA requests for such documents are also made under the Privacy Act.
6. Can I appeal a denial?
Yes. If your request is initially denied in whole or in part, you will be advised of your appeal rights and the proper procedures for submitting the appeal, which must be postmarked within 90 calendar days of the date of the denial letter. You may also appeal any determination you consider to be adverse (for example the inability of the command to find your document). .
7. How long will it take for my request to be processed?
Requests are processed in order by date of receipt and according to their complexity.
8. Do I have to pay for a FOIA request?
Yes, the FOIA allows agencies to charge fees to certain types of requesters at a rate plus copy fees. For more detailed cost information, see the DD 2086 form. The FOIA also provides that fee waivers or fee reductions may be granted in certain situations. For more specific information on categories of requestors and criteria for waivers and reductions please reference the following Fees & Waivers guidance.