Dec 112017
 
Text info on how to obtain information under the freedom of information act.
File FOIA.ZIP from The Programmer’s Corner in
Category Various Text files
Text info on how to obtain information under the freedom of information act.
File Name File Size Zip Size Zip Type
FOIA.TXT 29184 10032 deflated

Download File FOIA.ZIP Here

Contents of the FOIA.TXT file


FOIA FILES KIT - INSTRUCTIONS

USING THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT
REVISED EDITION
Fund for Open Information and Accountability, Inc.
339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012
(212) 477-3188

INSTRUCTIONS

The Freedom of Information Act entitles you to request any
record maintained by a federal Executive branch agency. The
agency must release the requested matieral unless it falls into
one of nine exempt categores, such as "national security,"
"privacy," "confidential source" and the like, in which case the
agency may but is not compelled to refuse to disclose the
records.
This kit contains all the material needed to make FOIA
requests for records on an individual, an orgnaization or on a
particular subject matter or event.

HOW TO MAKE A COMPLETE REQUEST

Step 1: Select the appropriate smaple letter. Fill in the
blanks in the body of the letter. Read the directions printed to
the right of each letter in conjunction with the following
instructions:
For organizational files: In the first blank space insert
the full and formal name of the organization whose files you are
requesting. In the second blank space insert any other names,
acronyms or shortened forms by which the organization is or has
ever been known or referred to by itself or others. If some of
the organization's work is conducted by sub-groups such as clubs,
committees, special programs or through coalitions known by other
names, these should be listed.
For individual files: Insert the person's full name in the
first blank space and any vaiations in spelling, nicknames, stage
names, marriage names, titles and the like in the second blank
space. Unlike other requests, the signatures of an individual
requesting her/his own file must be notarized.
For subject matter or event files: In the first blank space
state the formal title of the subject matter or event including
relevant dates and locations. In the second blank space provide
the names of individuals or group sponsors or participants and/or
any other information that would assist the agency in locating
the material you are requesting.
Step 2: The completed sample letter may be removed,
photocopies and mailed as is or retyped on your own stationary.
Be sure to keep a copy of each letter.
Step 3: Addressing the letters: Consult list of agency
addresses.
FBI: A complete request requires a minimum of two letters.
Sen done letter to FBI Headquarters and separate letter to each
FBI field office nearest the location of the individual, the
organization or the subject matter/event. Consdier the location
of residences, schools, work and other activities.
INS: Send a request letter to each district office nearest
the location of the individual, the organization or the subject
matter/event.
Address each letter to the FOIA/PA office of the appropraite
agency. Be sure to make clearly on the envelope: ATTENTION--FOIA
REQUEST.

FEE WAIVER

You will notice that the sample letters include a request
for fee waiver. Many agencies automatically waive fees if a
request results in the release of only a small number of
documents, e.g. 250 pages or less. Under the Act, you are
entitled to a waiver of all search and copy fees associated with
your request if the release of the information would primarily
benefit the general public. However, in January 1983, the Justice
Department issued a memo to all federal agencies listing five
criteria which requesters must meet before they are deemed
entitled to a fee waiver. Under these criteria, a requester must
show that the material sought to be released is already the
subject of "genuine public interest" and "meaningfully
contributes to the public development or understanding of the
subject"; and that she/he has the qualifications to understand
and evaluate the materials and the ability to interpret and
disseminate the information to th epublic and is not motivated by
any "personal interest." Finally, if the requested information is
already "in the public domain," such as in the agency's reading
room, no fee waiver will be granted.
You should always request a waiver of fees if you believe
the information you are seeking will benefit the public. If your
request for a waiver is denied, you should appeal that denial,
citing the ways in which your request meets the standards set out
above.

MONITORING THE PROGRESS OF YOUR REQUEST

Customarily, you will receive a letter from each agency
within 10 days stating that your request has been received and is
being processed. You may be asked to be patient and told that
requests are handled cafeteria style. You have no alternative but
to be somewhat patient. but there is no reason to be complacent
and simply sit and wait.
A good strategy is to telephone the FOIA office in each
agency after about a month if nothing of substance has been
received. Ask for a progress report. The name of the person you
talk with and the gist of the converstaion should be recorded.
try to take notes during the conversation focusing especially on
what is said by the agency official. Write down all the details
you can recall after the call is completed. Continue to call
every 4 to 6 weeks.
Good recordkeeping helps avoid time-consuming and
frustrating confusion. A looseleaf notebook with a section
devoted to each request simplifies this task. Intervening
correspondence to and from the agency can be inserted bewteen the
notes on phone calls so that all relevant material will be at
hand for the various tasks: phone consultations, writing the
newsletter, correspondence, articles, preparation for media
appearances, congressional testimony or litigation, if that
course is adopted.

HOW TO MAKE SURE YOU GET EVERYTHING YOU ARE ENTITLED TO ...
AND WHAT TO DO IF YOU DO NOT

After each agency has searched and processed your request,
you will receive a letter that announces the outcome, encloses
the released documents, if any, and explains where to direct an
appeal if any material has been withheld. There are four possible
outcomes:
1. Request granted in full: This response indicates that
the agency has released all records pertinent to your request,
with no exclusions or withholdings. The documents may be enclosed
or, if bulky, may be mailed under separate cover. This is a very
rare outcome.
Next Step: Check documents for completeness (see
instructions below).
2. Requested granted in part and denied in part: This
response indicates that the agency is releasing some material but
has withheld some documents entirely or excized some passages
from the documents released. The released documents may be
enclosed or, if bulky, mailed under separate cover.
Next step: Check documents released for completeness (see
instructions below) and make an administrative appeal of denials
or incompleteness (see instructions below).
3. Request denied in full: This response indicates that
the agency is asserting that all material in its files pertaining
to your request falls under one or the nine FOIA exemptions.
These are categories of information that the agency may, at its
discretion, refuse to release.
Next step: Make an administrative appeal (see instructions
below). Since FOIA exemptions are not mandatory, even a complete
denial of your request can and should be appeals.
4. No records: This response will state that a search of
the agency's files indicates that it has no records corresponding
to those you requested.
Next step: Check your original request to be sure you have
not overlooked anything. If you receive documents from other
agencies, review them for indications that there is matieral in
teh files of the agency claiming it has none. For example, look
for correspondence, or references to correspondence, to or from
that agency. If you determine that there are reasonable grounds,
file an administrative appeal (see instructions below).

HOW TO CHECK FOR COMPLETENESS

Step 1: Before reading the documents, turn them over and
number the back of each page sequentilaly. The packet may contain
documents from the agency's headquarters as well as several field
office files. Separate the documents into their reqpective office
packets. Each of these offices will have assigned the
investigation a separate file number. Try to find the numbering
system. Usually the lower righthand corner of the first page
carries a hand-written file and document number. For instance, an
FBI document might be marked "100-7142-22". This would indicate
that it is the 22nd document in the 7142nd file in the 100
classification. As you inspect the documents, make a list of
these file numbers and which office they represent. In this way
you will be able to determine which office created and which
office received the document you have in your hand. Often there
is a block stamp affixed with the name of the office from whose

files this copy was retrieved. the "To/From" heading on a
document may also give you corresponding file numbers and will
help you puzzle out the origin of the document.
When you have finally identified eahc document's file and
serial number and separated the documents into their proper
office batches, make a list of all the serial numbers in each
batch to see if there any any missing numbers. If there are
missing serial numbers and some documents have been withheld, try
to determine if teh missing numbers might reasonably correspond
to the withheld documents. If not, the realease may be incomplete
and an administrative appeal should be made.
Step 2: Read all the document released to you. Keep a list
of all document referred to the text--letters, memos, teletypes,
reports, etc. Each of these "referred to" documents should turn
up in the packet released to you. If any are not in the packet,
it is possible they may be among those document withheld; a
direct inquiry should be made. In an administrative appeal, ask
that each of these "referred to" documents be produced or that
the agency state plainly that they are among those withheld. Of
course, the totals of unproduced vs. withheld must be within
reasons; that is, if the total number of unproduced documents you
find referred to the text of the documents produced exceeds the
total number of documents withheld, the agency cannot claim that
all the referred to documents are accounted for by the withheld
categoty. You will soon get the hand of making logical
conclusions from discrepancies in the totals and missing document
numbers.
Another thing to look for when reading the released
documents if the names of persons or agencies to whom the
document has been disseminated. the lower left-hadn corncer is a
common location for the typed list of agencies or offices to whom
the document has been directed. In addition, there may be
additional distribution recorded by hand, there or elsewhere on
the cover page. There are published glossaries for some agencies
that will help in deciphering these notaitons when they are not
clear. Contact FOIA, Inc., if you need assistance in deciphering
the text.
Finally, any other file numbers that appear on the document
should be noted, particularaly in the subject of the file is of
interest and is one you have not requested. You may want to make
an additional request for some of these files.

HOW TO MAKE AN ADMINISTRATIVE APPEAL

Under the FOIA, a dissatified requester has the right of
administrative appeal. the name and address of the proper appeal
office will be given to you by each agency in its final response
letter.
This kit contains a sample appeal letter with suggesting for
adapting it to various circumstances. However, you need not make
such an elaborate appeal; in fact, you need not offer any reasons
at all but rather simply write a letter to the appeals unit
stating that "this letter constitutes an appeal of the agency's
decision." Of course, if you have identified some real
discrepanices, you will want to set them for fully, but even if
you have not found any, you may simply ask that the release be
reviewed.
If you are still dissatisfied after the administrative
appeal process, the FOIA gives you the right to bring a lawsuit
in federal district court on an expedited basis.

SAMPLE FBI REQUEST LETTER

Date:

To: FOIA/PA Unit
Federal Bureau of Investigation

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

I request a complete and thorough search of all filing
systems and locations for all records maintained by your agency
pertaining to and/or captioned: ______
_____________________________________________________
[describe records desired and/or insert full and
_____________________________________________________
formal name]
_____________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________

including, without limitations, files and documents captioned, or
whose captions include

_____________________________________________________
[insert changes in name, commonly used names,
_____________________________________________________
acronyms, sub-groups, and the like]
_____________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________

This request specifically includes "main" files and "see
references," including, but not limited to numbered and lettered
sub files, "DO NOT FILE" files, and control files. I also request
a search of the ELSUR Index,a nd the COINTELPRO Index. I request
that all records be produced with the administrative pges.
I wish to be sent copies of "see reference" cards,
abstracts, serach slips, including search slips used to process
this request, file covers, multiple copies of the same documents
if they appear in a file, and tapes of any electronic
surveillances.
I wish to make it clear that I want all records in you
roffice "identifiable with my request," even though reports on
those records have been sent to Headquarters and even though
there may be duplication between the two sets of fils. I do not
want just "interim" documents. I want all documents as they
appear in the "main" files and "see references" of all units of
your agency.
If documents are denied in whole or in part, please specify
which exemption(s) is(are) claimed for each passage or whole
document denied. Please provide a complete itemized inventory and
a detailed factual justification of total or partial denial of
documents. Give the number of pages in each document and the
total number of pages pertaining to this request. For
"classified" material denied pleae include the following
information: the classification (confidential, secret or top
secret); identity of the classifer; date or event for automatic
declassification, classification review, or down-grading; if
applicable, identity of official authorizing extension of
automatic declassification or review; and if applicable, the
reason for extended classification.
I request that excized material be "blacked out" rather
thatn "whited out" or cut out and that the remaining non-exempt
portions of documents will be released as provided under the
Freedom of Information Act.
Please send a memo (copy to me) to the appropriate units in
your office to assure that no records related to this request are
destroyed. Please advise of any destruction of records and
include the date of and authority for such destruction.
As I expect to appeal any denials, please specify the office
and address to which an appeal should be directed.
I believe my request qualifies for a waiver of fees since
the release of the requested information would primarily benefit
the general public and be "in the public interest."
I can be reached at the phone listed below. Please call
rather than write if there are any questions or if you need
additional information from me.
I expect a response to this request within ten (10) working
days, as provided for in the Freedom of Information Act.

Sincerely,

name: _______________________________________________

address: ____________________________________________

____________________________________________

telephone: __________________________________________

signature: __________________________________________

SAMPLE AGENCY REQUEST LETTER

DATE:
TO: FOIA/PA Unit

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
I request a complete and thorough search of all filing
systems and locations for all records maintained by your agency
pertaining to and/or captioned
______________________________________________________
[describe records desired and/or insert full and
______________________________________________________
formal name]
______________________________________________________

______________________________________________________

including, without limitation, files and documents captioned, or
whose captions include:

______________________________________________________
[insert changes in name, commonly used names,
______________________________________________________
acronyms, sub-groups and the like]
______________________________________________________

______________________________________________________

I also request all "see references" to these names, a search
of the ELSUR Index or any similar technique for locating records
of electronic surveillance.
This request is also a request for any corresponding files
in INS Headquarters or regional offices.
Please place any "missing" files pertaining to this request
on "special locate" and advise that you have done this.
If documents are denied in part or whole, please specify
which exemption(s) is(are) claimed for each passage or whole
document denied. Please provide a complete itemized inventory and
detialed factual justification of total or partial denial of
documents. Specify the number of pates in each document and th
ttoal number of pages pertaining to this request. For classified
material denied, please include the following information: the
classification rating (confidential, secret, or top secret);
identify the classifier; date or event for automatic
declassification, classification review or downgrading; if
applicable, identify the official authorizing extension of
automatic declassification or reviw; and, if applicable, give the
reason for extended classification.
I request that excised material be "blacked out" rather than
"whited out" or cut out. I expect, as provided by the Freedom of
Information Act, that the remaining non-exempt portions of
documents will be released.
Please send a memo (copy to me) to the appropriate units in
your office or agency to assure that no records related to this
request are destroyed. Please advise of any destruction of
records and include the date of and authority for such
destruction.
As I expect to appeal any denials, please specify the office
and address to which an appeal should be directed.
I believe my request qualifies for a waiver of fees since
the release of the requested information would primarily benefit
the general public and be "in the public interest."
I can be reached at the phone listed below. Please call
rather than write if there are any questions or if you need
additional information from me.
I expect a response to this request within ten (10) working
days, as provided for in the Freedom of Information Act.

Sincerely,

name: _______________________________________________

address: ____________________________________________

____________________________________________

telephone: (___)_______________________________________

signature: __________________________________________

SAMPLE ADMINISTRATIVE APPEAL LETTER

Date:
To: FOIA/PA Appeals Office
RE: Request numer [Add this if the agency has given your request
a number]
This is an appeal pursuant to subsection (a)(6) of the
Freedom of Information Act as amended (5U.S.C. 552).
On [date], I received a letter from [name of official] of
your agency denying my request for [describe briefly the
information you are after]. This reply indicated that an appeal
letter could be sent to you. I am enclosing a copy of my exchange
of correspondence with your agency so that you can see exactly
what files I have requested and the insubstantial grounds on
which my request has been denied.
[Optional paragraph, to be used if the agency has withheld
all or nearly all the material which has been requested]:
You will note that your agency has withheld the entire (or
nearly the entire) document (or file, or report, or whatever)
that I requested. Since the FOIA provides that "any reasonably
secregable portion of a record shall be provided to any eprson
requesting such record after deletion of the portions which are
exempt," I believe that your agency has not complied with the
FOIA. I believe that there must be (additional) segregble
portions which do not fall wihtin FOIA exemptions and which must
be released.
[Optional paragraph, to be used in the agency has used the
(b)(1) exemption for national security, to withhold information]
Your agency has used the (b)(1) exemption to withhold
information [I question whether files relating to events that
took place over twenty years ago could realistically harm the
national security.] [Because I am familiar with my own activities
during the period in question, and know that none of these
activities in any way posed a significant threat to the national
security, I question the designation of my files or portions of
my file as classified and exempt from disclosure beca8use of
national security considerations.]
[Sample optional argument to be used if the exemption which
is claimed does not seem to make sense; you should cite as many
specific instances as you care to of items withheld from the
documents that you ahve received. We provide two examples which
you might want to adampt to your own case.]
"On the memo dated _____________ the second paragraph
withheld under the (b)(1) exemption appears to be describing a
conversation at an open meeting. If this is the case, it is
impossible that the substance of this converation could be
properly classified." Or, "The memo dated _____ refers to a
meeting which I attended, but a substantial portion is deleted
because of the (b)(6) and (b)(7)(c) exemptions for unwarranted
invasions of personal privacy. Since I already know who attended
this meeting, no privacy interest is served by the withholding."
I trust that upon examination of my request, you will
conclude that the records I requested are not properly covered by
exemption(s) [here repeat the exemptions which the agency's
denial letter claimed applied to your request] of the amended
FOIA, and that you will overrule the decision to withhold the
information.
[Use if an itemized inventory is not supplied originally]
If you choose instead to continue to withhold some or all of
the material which was denied in my initial request to your
agency, I ask that you give me an index of such matieral,
together with the justification for the denial of each item which
is still withheld.
As provided in the Act, I will expect to receive a reply to
this administrative appeal letter within twenty working days.
If you deny this appeal and do not adequately explain why
the material withheld is properly exempt, I intend to initial a
lawsuit to compel its disclosure. [You can say that you intend to
sue, if that is your present inclination; you may still decide
ultimately not to file suit.]

Sincerely yours,

name: ____________________________________________

address: ____________________________________________

____________________________________________

signature: ___________________________________________

[Mark clearly on envelope: Attention: Freedom of Information
Appeals]

FBI ADDRESSES AND PHONE NUMBERS

FBI Headquarters, J. Edgar Hoover Bldg, Washington, D.C., 20535,
202-324-5520 (FOI/PA Unit)

Field Offices
Albany, NY 12207, U.S. Post Office and Courthouse, 518-465-7551
Albuquerque, NM 87101, Federal Office Bldg., 505-247-1555
Alexandria, VA 22314, 300 N. Lee St., 703-683-2681
Anchorage, AK 99510, Federal bldg., 907-272-6414
Atlanta, GA 30303, 275 Peachtree St. NE, 404-521-3900
Baltimore, MD 21207, 7142 Ambassador Rd., 301-265-8080
Birminghan, AL 35203, Room 1400, 2121 Bldg. 205-252-7705
Boston, MA 02203, J.F. Kennedy Federal Office Bldg., 617-742-5533
Buffalo, NY 14202, 111 W. Huron St., 716-856-7800
Butte, MT 59701, U.S. Courthouse and Federal Bldg., 406-792-2304
Charlotte, NC 28202, Jefferson Standard Life Bldg., 704-372-5485
Chicago, IL 60604, Everett McKinley Dirksen Bldg., 312-431-1333
Cincinnati, OH 45202, 400 U.S. Post Office & Crthse Bldg., 513-421-4310
Cleveland, OH 44199, Federal Office Bldg., 216-522-1401
Columbia, SC 29201, 1529 Hampton St., 803-254-3011
Dallas TX 75201, 1810 Commrce St., 214-741-1851
Denver, CO 80202, Federal Office Bldg., 303-629-7171
Detroit, MI 48226, 477 Michigan Ave., 313-965-2323
El Paso, TX 79901, 202 U.S. Courthosue Bldg., 915-533-7451
Honolulu, HI 96850, 300 Ala Moana Blvd., 808-521-1411
Houston, TX 77002, 6015 Fed. Bldg and U.S.Courthouse, 713-224-1511
Indianapolis, IN 46202, 575 N. Pennsylvania St., 317-639-3301
Jackson, MS 39205, Unifirst Federal and Loan Bldg., 601-948-5000
Jacksonville, FL 32211, 7820 Arlington Expressway, 904-721-1211
Kansas City, MO 64106, 300 U.S. Courthouse Bldg., 816-221-6100
Knoxville, TN 37919, 1111 Northshore Dr., 615-588-8571
Las Vegas, NV 89101, Federal Office Bldg., 702-385-1281
Little Rock, AR 72201, 215 U.S Post Office Bldg., 501-372-7211
Los Angeles, CA 90024, 11000 Wilshire Blvd, 213-272-6161
Louisville, KY 40202, Federal Bldg., 502-583-3941
Memphis, TN 38103, Clifford Davis Federal bldg., 901-525-7373
Miami, FL 33137, 3801 Biscayne Blvd., 305-573-3333
Milwaukee, WI 53202, Federal Bldg and U.S. Courthouse, 414-276-4681
Minneapolis, MN 55401, 392 Federal Bldg., 612-339-7846
Mobile, AL 36602, Federal Bldg., 205-438-3675
Newark, NJ 07101, Gateway I, Market St., 201-622-5613
New Haven, CT 06510, 170 Orange St., 203-777-6311
New Orleans, LA 70113, 701 Loyola Ave., 504-522-4671
New York, NY 10007, 26 Federal Plaza, 212-553-2700
Norfolk, VA, 23502, 870 N. Military Hwy., 804-461-2121
Oklahoma City, OK 73118, 50 Penn Pl. NW, 405-842-7471
Omaha, NB 68102, 215 N. 17th St., 402-348-1210
Philadelpha, PA 19106, Federal Office Bldg., 215-629-0800
Phoenix, AZ 85004, 2721 N. central Ave., 602-279-5511
Pittsburgh, PA 15222, Federal Office Bldg., 412-471-2000
Portland, OR 97201, Crown Plaza Bldg., 503-224-4181
Richmond, VA 23220, 200 W. Grace St., 804-644-2531
Sacramento, CA 95825, Federal Bldg., 916-481-9110
St. Louis, MO 63103, 2704 Federal Bldg., 314-241-5357
Salt Lake City, UT 84138, Federal Bldg., 801-355-7521
San Diego, CA 92188, Federal Office Bldg., 619-231-1122
San Francisco, CA 94102, 450 Golden Gate Ave., 415-552-2155
San Juan, PR 00918 U.S. Courthouse and Fed. Bldg., 809-754-6000
Savannah, GA 31405, 5401 Paulson St., 912-354-9911
Seattle, WA 98174, 915 2nd Ave., 206-622-0460
Springfield, IL 62702, 535 W. Jefferson St., 217-522-9675
Tampa, FL 33602, Federal Office Bldg., 813-228-7661
Washington, DC 20535, 9th and Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202-324-3000

FEDERAL AGENCIES (SELECTED ADDRESSES)

Central Intelligence Agency
Information and Privacy Coordinator
Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, D.C. 20505
202-351-5659

Civil Service Commission
Appropriate Bureau (Bureau of Personnel Investigation,
Bureau of Personnel Information Systems, etc.)
Civil Service Commission
1900 E Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20415
202-632-4431

Commission on Civil Rights
General Counsel, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
1121 Vermont Ae., N.W. Room 600
Washington, D.C. 20415
202-254-6610

Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of the Secretary
Consumer Product Safety Commission
1111 18th St., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20207
202-624-7700

Department of Defense/Dept. of Air Force
Freedom of Information Manager
Headquarters, USAF/DADF
Washington, D.C. 20330-5025
202-697-3467


 December 11, 2017  Add comments

Leave a Reply