The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a Federal law that establishes the public’s right to request existing records from Federal government agencies.
WHO CAN FILE A FOIA REQUEST?
Any “person” can file a FOIA request, including U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, organizations, universities, businesses, and state and local governments.
ARE QUESTIONS ANSWERED UNDER THE FOIA?
The FOIA does not require Federal Agencies to answer questions, render opinions, or provide subjective evaluations. Requesters must ask for existing records.
HOW TO FILE A FOIA REQUEST
- Ensure that somewhere on your request it states that it is a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
- Ensure that the request is signed by the person the request is concerning. In some cases the requestor may be 3rd party, i.e.: insurance agency, ensure that the person in whom the request is regarding, signs the request.
- Describe the specific records you are requesting in enough detail so that they can be located with a reasonable amount of effort. Generally, a record is reasonably described when the description contains sufficient file-related information (type of document, title, subject area, date of creating, originator, etc.); or the request contains enough event-related information (date of circumstances surrounding the event the record covers) to permit the conduct of an organized, non-random search.
- Because most NAVSPECWARCOM records are not retained permanently, the more information provided, the better opportunity there is to determine if the records would still exist and where. The FOIA clearly states that records must exist at the time the request is submitted to be considered.
- Ensure you state your willingness to pay all fees or those up to a specified amount or provide a justification to support a fee waiver. Agreements to pay fees are considered to be up to $250.00, unless another amount is specified. Currently we charge search, review (for commercial requestors only), and duplicated costs. (The fee schedule is provided at enclosure (3) of Secretary of the Navy Instruction 5720.42F.) If you seek a fee waiver, provide a justification for such a waiver.
- Ensure a complete postal service mailing address is provided on the request in which a response to a FOIA request can be received at.