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Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The Office of the Chief Information Officer has the responsibility for oversight of the Army Contracting Command's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) program. The Freedom of Information Act is a Federal law that establishes the public's right to request existing records from Federal Government agencies. Requests are only for agency "records." The agency is not required to create documents in response to a request.

FOIA, which is known by its legal cite as 5 U.S.C. § 552, along with the Department of Defense and Army Regulations, govern how requests will be processed within the Army. The Army Regulation (AR) 25-55, the Department of the Army FOIA Program, can be found at Part 518 of Chapter 32 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), which is available in most public libraries.

See Also: The Privacy Act


FIOA Request

Who can file a FOIA request?
  • Any person can file a FOIA request, including U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, organizations, universities, businesses, and state and local governments may also file FOIA requests.
  • No special form is required; however, the request should be labeled as a "Freedom of Information Act Request", with a reasonable description of the records requested. You must also state a willingness to pay any search and review fees.
How do I request documents under the FOIA?

You can request documents under the FOIA by fax, letter, or electronic mail and must include the following information:
  • Name and Business name (if applicable)
  • Address
  • Telephone number
  • Fax number (if applicable)
  • Whether the requester wants to view the documents or have them copied and mailed
  • If requesting a fee waiver, the requestor must state the basis for the waiver
Where should I send a FOIA request?

Requests for information under FOIA may be sent to the following:

Fax: Fax requests to: (256) 955-8851.

The fax coversheet should be addressed to the attention of: "ACC FOIA Officer."

Electronic Mail: Send FOIA request by electronic mail (e-mail) to: ACC.FOIA@us.army.mil

Postal Mail: Mail FOIA requests to the following address:

ACC FOIA Officer
AMSCC-IM
3334G Wells Rd
Redstone Arsenal, AL 35898
Sample FOIA Request Letter

Requestor's Cost Category

What are the categories of requesters and how are their fees determined?

There are five categories of requesters:
  • Commercial - Requesters who seek information for a use or purpose that furthers their commercial, trade, or profit interest are considered commercial requesters. Commercial requesters pay all fees for search, review, and duplication.
  • Educational -Institutions of education, including preschools, elementary or secondary schools and institutions of higher learning, qualify as educational institutions. The records must be sought in furtherance of scholarly research. Educational requesters pay only duplication fees, unless it is determined that fees are waived or reduced in the public interest. The first 100 pages are provided at no cost.
  • Non-Commercial Scientific - A non-commercial scientific institution is operated solely for conducting scientific research. The records must be sought in furtherance of scientific research. Like educational requesters, these requesters pay only duplication fees, unless it is determined that fees are waived or reduced in the public interest. The first 100 pages are provided at no cost.
  • News Media - A representative of the news media is a person actively gathering news for an entity organized and operated to publicize or broadcast news to the public. News media pay only duplication fees, unless it is determined that fees are waived or reduced in the public interest. The first 100 pages are provided at no cost.
  • Other Requester - Requesters who do not qualify in another category are considered "other" requesters, and normally make requests for agency records for their personal use. "Other" requesters receive two hours search time, all review costs, and the first 100 pages at no cost.

Costs

IMPORTANT - Willingness to pay statement

All requesters must include a "willingness to pay statement" in their request, regardless of the fee category, however, this does not mean a fee will be charged. The requester can set a limit on the costs to be incurred. For example, he/she may state "not to exceed $50." If the estimate for answering the request exceeds the limit, the FOIA Officer will call the requester to discuss his/her options. The requester has four options: accept the copied documents up to the previous specified amount of money; cancel the entire request; authorize the money needed to complete the request; or, authorize additional funds up to another specified amount. Except for commercial requesters whose fees total more than $15, waivers are always considered.

Charges. Fees are assessed only for search, review, and copies. FOIA requesters whose bill comes to $15 or less are not charged:
  • Clerical rate per hour: $20.00
  • Professional rate per hour: $44.00
  • Contractor rate per hour: $44.00
  • Copy rate per page: .15 cents
  • Copy rate per page (microfiche): .25 cents
    • Commercial Requester: Are generally charged for search, duplication, and review.
    • Educational/Scientific/News Media: Are generally charged for duplication only after first 100 pages.
    • Other Requestors: Are generally charged for searches past first 2 hours and duplication after the first 100 pages.


For FOIA request payments, make check out to "Dept of Treasury" and mail check to:
ACC G8
3334B Wells Rd
Redstone Arsenal, AL 35898

Exemptions

What are FOIA exemptions?

There are FOIA exemptions, described in 5 U.S.C. 552(b).
  • Exemption 1 – Protects national Security information concerning the national defense of foreign policy, provided that it has been properly classified under Executive Order.
  • Exemption 2 – Protect records that are "related solely to internal personnel rules and practices of an agency" as well as those records that are trivial or housekeeping in nature for which there is no legitimate public interest or benefit to be gained by release.
  • Exemption 3 – Incorporates the various non disclosure provisions that are contained in other federal statutes.
  • Exemption 4 – Protects trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a non-government entity which is privileged or confidential and would cause substantial competitive harm to the source if disclosed or inhibit the Government's ability to collect such information in the future.
  • Exemption 5 – Protects "inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than one in litigation with the agency."
  • Exemption 6 – Protects information about individuals in "personnel and medical files and similar files" when disclosure of such information "would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."
  • Exemption 7 – Protects "records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of such law enforcement records or information" could be expected to cause one of the harms: (1) interference with law enforcement procedures; (2) deprive a person the right to a fair adjudication; or (3) cause an unwarranted invasion of privacy.
  • Exemption 8 – Protects matters that are "contained in or related to examination, operation or condition reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of an agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions."
  • Exemption 9 – Protects "geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells."


Reasons for not releasing a record?

There are seven reasons why an Army component may not release a record requested under FOIA.

  • 1. The request is transferred to another Army component or Federal agency.
  • 2. The Army component determines through knowledge of its files and reasonable search efforts that it neither controls nor otherwise possesses the requested record.
  • 3. A record has not been described with sufficient detail to enable the Army Component to locate it by conducting a reasonable search.
  • 4. The requester has failed unreasonably to comply with procedural requirements, including payment of fees, imposed by the FOIA and Army Regulation (AR) 25-55.
  • 5. The request is withdrawn by the requester.
  • 6. The information requested is not a record within the meaning of the FOIA and AR 25-55.
  • 7. The record is denied in whole or part in accordance with procedures set forth in the FOIA and AR 25-55.

Denial Authority

What is a denial?
When information is withheld, whether partially or fully, this constitutes a denial under FOIA. There are several reasons for not releasing a record or exemptions from FOIA. A request may be denied for one or more of the aforementioned exemptions. When this happens, the requester will be notified in writing by the Initial Denial Authority (IDA) and given appeal rights. IDAs are denial authorities for records that fall under their custodial control. If a request is denied partially, the requester will receive information that has portions deleted. Redacted records have the denied information removed from where it was originally located within the document. The appropriate exemption(s) for deletion of the information should be listed next to the sanitized area(s) on the document. There are usually two methods for sanitizing a document; one is to blacken out the denied information, and the other is to completely remove it.

Can I appeal a denial?
Yes. If a FOIA request is initially denied in whole or in part under one or more of the above exemptions, or denied for some other reason, the requester will be advised of his appeal rights and the proper procedures for submitting the appeal within 60 days. If the requester is not satisfied with the appeal determination, he may seek judicial review.

Initial Denial Authority (IDA)
The Initial Denial Authority (IDA) is an appointed ACC Legal Counsel who has been granted authority by the ACC Chief Counsel to withhold records requested under the FOIA for one or more of the nine categories of records exempt from mandatory disclosure.

The following individuals are the appointed IDAs for the U.S. Army Contracting Agency:

NOTE: It should be noted, however, that this office is not a repository for documents maintained or released by the Department of the Army. Requests received in this office will be forwarded to the ACC contracting activity that has the responsibility for the subject matter requested.

Contact Us

Send questions or comments to: ACC.FOIA@us.army.mil

ACC FOIA Officer
AMSCC-IM
3334G Wells Rd
Redstone Arsenal, AL 35898

Phone:
(256) 434-1595

Fax:
(256) 955-8851

For FOIA request payments, make check out to "Dept of Treasury" and mail check to:
ACC G8
3334B Wells Rd
Redstone Arsenal, AL 35898