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 requests applicable to Norfolk District should be made in writing.
No special form is required for a FOIA request. Electronic requests are permitted unless a signature is required, such as for records subject to the Privacy Act. Electronic requests should include the notation "Freedom of Information Act Request" in the subject.
Requests must state a willingness to pay the applicable fees and describe the documents requested in sufficient detail to allow the FOIA Office to locate them with a reasonable amount of effort. In making a request, you should be as specific as possible with regard to names, titles, dates, places, events, subjects, recipients, type of document, offices likely to maintain the documents and other details.
A FOIA request can be made for any agency document. However, this does not mean all documents will be disclosed. There are statutory exemptions that authorize withholding information of a sensitive nature. In addition, you should be aware the law does not require FOIA offices to do research for you, analyze data, answer written questions or create records in order to respond to a request.
When a FOIA Office receives your request, it will ordinarily send you an acknowledgment letter. If you do not provide the necessary information, the office will advise you of additional information required before further processing your request.
In order to protect your privacy and the privacy of others, when you request information about yourself, you will be asked to provide a notarized statement or statement signed under penalty of perjury validating proper identification.
For more assistance in submitting a request, see "A Citizen's Guide to Request Army Records" under the Freedom of Information Act: www.epic.org/open_gov/citizens_guide_97.html
Q. How can I get more information about FOIA?
A. Please visit the Army's FOIA website.
Q. What is the status of my FOIA request?
A. FOIA requestors who have questions about, or want to check the status of, their FOIA request should contact the local FOIA Requestor Service Center. The Corps of Engineers has established a Service Center for each major office. Directing your questions to the Service Center at the FOIA Office to which the request was submitted will speed up the Corps of Engineers’ response to your questions.
Q. Do I have to pay for my request, and if so, how much?
A. FOIA allows fees to be charged to certain types of requestors, but it also provides that waivers or reductions in fees be given if disclosing the information is in the public interest. Public interest is defined as information that significantly enhances the public's knowledge of Army operations and activities. FOIA requires that requestors be placed into categories. For a more detailed outline of categories, visit the Army's FOIA website. One of the most common categories is "Other." Individuals who do not qualify in another category are considered "other" requestors, and normally make requests for agency records for their personal use. "Other" requestors receive a two-hour search, all review costs and the first 100 pages at no expense. A FOIA requirement is that all requestors must include a "willingness to pay statement" in their request; however, fees are not charged unless they exceed $25. Also, the requestor can set a limit on 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 requestor to discuss his/her options. The requestor has four options: accept the copied documents up to the previous specified dollar amount, cancel the entire request, authorize the money needed to complete the request or authorize additional funds up to another specified amount. Fee waivers may be granted when records disclosure is in the public interest because it's likely to contribute significantly to understanding of government operations or activities. The following factors are weighed in making a fee-waiver determination:
Informative value of the information to be disclosed.
Contribution to subject understanding by the general public likely to result from disclosure.
Significance of the contribution to public understanding.
Information disclosure is not primarily in the requestor's commercial interest.