Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Freedom of Information Act?
The Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. § 552) (PDF | 79 KB) provides the public with a means of access to records maintained by the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government. The FOIA is a disclosure statute, but does allow for the withholding of certain types of information contained in agency records. The FOIA also gives requesters specific legal rights and provides administrative and judicial remedies when access to records or portions of records is denied.
How do I submit a FOIA request to the OSD/JS FOIA Requester Service Center?
You must submit a FOIA request in writing either electronically or by regular mail.
Note: You need only submit your request using one of the above methods of delivery. We prefer that you submit your request electronically because of the quality of copy and its compatibility with our document management system.
OSD/JS FOIA Requester Service Center
Office of Freedom of Information
1155 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1155
FAX: (571) 372-0500
Do I have to pay any fees to have a FOIA request processed?
For certain types of requesters, the FOIA allows for the charging of fees for search, review and duplication. Requesters are not required to pay in advance as a matter of practice; however, if assessable fees exceed $250.00, we may ask for advance payment from requesters without an established payment history. All fees paid as a result of processing a FOIA request are paid directly to the Department of the Treasury.
How long will it take to process my request?
This is entirely dependent on the complexity of your request, the availability of the records, the volume of responsive records, and the need for consultation. The OSD/JS FOIA Requester Service Center is a high volume activity and we routinely have a backlog of pending requests. Requests are processed on a first-in, first-out basis.
What format will be used to provide any documents produced as a result of my request?
We generally provide responsive documents via regular mail. The documents may be in hard copy, on diskette, or CD-ROM. If no records are involved and we have your e-mail address, particularly in the case of misdirected requests, we will respond to you electronically.
How can I check on the status of my request?
When this office received your request, a post card should have been sent to you advising you of the case number, the name of the action officer assigned to process your request, and his or her telephone number. However, if you do not have the post card, please contact (703) 696-4689 or use our CONTACT US form for assistance. You must provide your name and the date of your request for the FOIA Requester Service Center to locate your request.
What can I do if I am not satisfied with the response that I receive regarding my FOIA request?
The FOIA provides for requesters to file an administrative appeal from any adverse determination in response to a request. In addition, each agency must advise the requester of the right to file an administrative appeal.
What is the Department of Defense policy as it relates to releasing "Lists of Names" of DoD personnel?
In consideration of the President's declaration of a National Emergency as a result of the terrorist attacks on the United States, DoD no longer routinely releases lists of names of Department of Defense personnel. This includes active duty military, civilian employees, contractors, members of the National Guard and Reserves, military dependents, and Coast Guard personnel when the Coast Guard is operating as a service in the Navy. Please see Director of Administration and Management Memorandum, Subject: Withholding of Personally Identifying Information Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), November 9, 2001 (PDF | 116 KB) for further information pertaining to this policy.
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