Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)


INTRODUCTION


On September 4, 1966, Public Law 89-554, enacted into law Title 5 of the U.S. Code entitled , "Government Organization and Employees", and introduced Section 552, subsequently amended and later referred to as the "Freedom of Information Act" and popularly known as "FOIA." This statute provides that after July 4, 1967 agencies under the Executive branch of the federal government shall make available for public inspection and copying (i) final opinions rendered in adjudication of administrative cases, specific agency policy statements, and administrative staff manuals that affect the public, and (ii) maintain current indices of same.


For those records not available publicly or in agency reading rooms, this statute provides the public, regardless of citizenship, the right to request access to existing federal agency records that were created or obtained by, or in the possession of, a federal agency at the time a FOIA request was filed. Federal agencies are required to disclose records, unless the records or a portion thereof are withheld from disclosure pursuant to any of the nine exemptions contained in the law. In addition, with respect to certain exemptions, agencies may make discretionary disclosures of exemption information. Requests must be submitted in writing, cite the FOIA, be as specific as possible to the records being sought, and express a willingness to pay associated fees. Agencies are not required to create records or provide information in response to a FOIA request.


Fee schedules are based on established categories of requesters. Fees may include the cost of duplication, search time (regardless if records are located), or involve the cost of review time of records to determine releasability. Fees will not be assessed if the cost is less than $15.00. Agencies may require advance payment of fees if it is determined that fees will exceed $250.00 or if a requester has previously failed to pay fees in a timely manner. A request for fee waiver must indicate (i) how disclosure of such material contributes significantly to the public's understanding of the operations or activities of the government and (ii) disclosure is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester. To be considered for fee waiver or fee reduction, certain criteria must be addressed by a requester in accordance with agency implementing regulations.


On October 2, 1996, President William J. Clinton signed into law the "Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996" (Public Law 104-231), commonly referred to as "E-FOIA." This law addresses electronic records, the maintenance of agency reading rooms to improve public access to copies of agency records and information, and certain procedural FOIA amendments. E-FOIA provides that agencies will make available by electronic means (i) reading room records created on or after November 1, 1996 and current indices of same, including a new category of records consisting of records provided under FOIA that agencies determine have become or are likely to become the subject of subsequent requests for the same records and an index of those selected FOIA disclosed documents, and (ii) an index and description of all major information systems.


For those records which are not available publicly or in either their conventional or electronic reading rooms, agencies are required to respond to a FOIA requester within 20 business days. If the response date cannot be met, agencies should contact the requester to receive a mutually-agreeable time extension. Agencies must make reasonable efforts to (i) disclose records in the form or format honoring a requester's specified choice, e.g., hardcopy, diskette, photographs, electronic format, videos, etc., and (ii) conduct electronic form or format searches.

To assist in obtaining publicly available information, we suggest you first conduct a search on the specific topic or information you are seeking using the SEARCH function on the DOE Home Page, the link for which can be found in the Reference Links section on the home page of this website.From the results of the search, if you can determine which DOE Program Office of Field Operations Sites might have the needed information, you can proceed to that locationís Public Reading Facilities using the FOIA Requester Service Centers and FOIA Public Liaisons list. This list provides FOIA Web Page addresses for each location from which Public Reading Facility and DOE FOIA Public Liaison contact information can be obtained.

Requesters who have submitted FOIA requests to the DOE Office of Science – Chicago Office on or after December 31, 2008, may obtain the date received by this office and the estimated completion date by clicking here. You will need to know your FOIA control number to identify your request on the listing.

If you would like additional information related to your request you should contact the FOIA Requester Service Center at this location. If your request has been transferred to a component of the Department to be processed, please contact the FOIA Requester Service Center at the location where your request has been transferred. You may access the telephone number to the appropriate FOIA Requester Service Center at http://management.energy.gov/contact_us/foia-pa.htm.

 


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Security and Privacy Notices

Updated: 2009-08-25