FOIA FAQs

Return to the FOIA section

What is the FOIA?
Who can file a request?
What kinds of information can be requested?
How do I file a request?
When can I anticipate receiving a response?
What are the fees associated with FOIA?
DTIC® Point of Contact

What is the FOIA?

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a Federal law that establishes the public's right to request existing records from Federal government agencies. The Act, known by its legal cite as 5 U.S.C. 552, along with the Department of Defense (DoD) Regulation 5400.7-R, "Department of Defense Freedom of Information Act Program," can be found at Part 286 of Chapter 32 of the Code of Federal Regulations, which is available in most libraries.
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Who can file a request?

Any "person" can file a FOIA request, including U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, organizations, universities, businesses and state and local governments, but not including a Federal Agency or a fugitive from the law. DoD 5400.7-R, paragraph C1.4.2.
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What kinds of information can be requested?

A FOIA request can be made for any record, regardless of physical form or characteristics, in DTIC's possession at the time a request is made and which is not already in the public domain, such as in a library or available through an established distribution system, the Federal Register, the National Technical Information Service, or the Internet. The FOIA does not require Federal Agencies to answer questions, render opinions, or provide subjective evaluations. Requesters must ask for existing records since the FOIA does not require a record to be created, compiled or obtained to satisfy a FOIA request. DoD 5400.7-R, paragraph C1.4.2.
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How do I file a request?

A request should be made in writing and forwarded to the DTIC FOIA Officer at the address below. Clearly mark it as a "Freedom of Information Act Request" and state your willingness to pay applicable fees. If you seek a fee waiver, provide a justification for such a waiver. To help us identify and locate the information, a request should describe the record as clearly and specifically as possible. A statement of the reason for making the request is not required, however it can be useful in determining whether a fee reduction or waiver is appropriate. DoD 5400.7-R, paragraph C1.4.2.
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When can I anticipate receiving a response?

After the request is received by the FOIA Office and logged in, we do our best to provide a response within 20 working days as required by the revised statute. However, if the timeframe cannot be met due to the volume and/or complexity of requests received, we will advise the requester of this fact within the 20-workday statutory time limit. If at all possible, we will provide a requester with a certain timeframe in which a final response may be anticipated. There are provisions for expedited processing of FOIA requests. Please see DoD Regulation 5400.7-R, paragraph C1.5.4.3.
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What are the fees associated with FOIA?

DoD5400.7-R, Chapter 6 allows fees to be charged to certain types of requesters, 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 which significantly enhances the public's knowledge of the operations and activities of the DoD. The FOIA requires that requesters be placed into one of the below categories:

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 publish 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" Requesters: 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, all review costs, and the first 100 pages at no cost.

All requesters must submit a willingness to pay fees regardless of the fee category, however, this does not mean the requester will definitely be charged fees. An estimate of FOIA processing fees may be requested before committing to a willingness to pay. If a request sets a processing fee cost ceiling, the requester will be notified should the cost estimate exceed the ceiling amount. In either case, the request will not be processed until a willingness to pay is confirmed by the requester. Fees are automatically waived if the costs total $15.00 or less.

A fee waiver may be granted on a case-by-case basis if the request is being made in the public interest and the information is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government. Please see DoD Regulation 5400.7-R, paragraph C6.1.4, for the factors used in making a fee waiver determination.
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DTIC® Point of Contact

Questions on both the substance and procedures of the FOIA and DTIC's implementation should be addressed to the DTIC FOIA Officer:
Defense Technical Information Center
ATTN: FOIA Officer
8725 John J. Kingman Road
Fort Belvoir, VA 22060

Phone: 703-767-9194
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