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Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

DAU GLOSSARY DEFINITION

Alternate Definition
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552 was signed by President Johnson on July 4th, 1966, to take effect July 5th, 1967. This act applies to all Federal Government Executive agencies to include the Department of Defense.
General Information

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552 was signed by President Johnson on July 4th, 1966, to take effect July 5th, 1967. This act applies to all Federal Government Executive agencies to include the Department of Defense.

 

The first thing for any program manager (PM) and/or contracting officer (KO) to know about is that when you receive a FOIA request you go directly to your organizations FOIA officer. Do not pass GO and do not collect $200.00.

 

Having given you the above advice it is incumbent on all program managers and contracting officers in the Department of Defense to be familiar with FAR -- Part 24 Protection of Privacy and Freedom of Information. It is a mistake to take the position that the organizational FOIA Office will have all the answers.

 

The organizational FOIA office is a valuable and mandatory asset when navigating the procedure to follow in addressing a FOIA request, but it is often not in a position to make the technical decision as to what should fall under one of the exemptions found in the FOIA without advice from the PM or KO.

 

Hence, it is important for the PM and KO to have a working knowledge of these exemptions. The exemptions can be found at 5 U.S.C. §552 (b)(1) through (b)(9):

 

  • (b)(1)--records currently and properly classified in the interest of national security;
  • (b)(2)--records related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of the DoD or any of the DoD Components.
  • (b)(3)--records protected by another law that specifically exempts the information from public release;
  • (b)(4)--trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a private source which would cause substantial competitive harm to the source if disclosed;
  • (b)(5)--internal records that are deliberative in nature and are part of the decision making process that contain opinions and recommendations;
  • (b)(6)--records which if released, would result in a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
  • (b)(7)--investigatory records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes;
  • (b)(8)--records for the use of any agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions;
  • (b)(9)--records containing geological and geophysical information (including maps) concerning wells.

 

Keep in mind that these are categories and it is incumbent on the Government to apply them to a specific case. Each request must be viewed on its own merits and circumstances. It would be a mistake to make the assumption that once information is deemed to be protected, it will always be protected. It is important to note that once information is released it is virtually impossible to deny that information to others.

 

The following assets are available to assist the Services and citizens with FOIA requests:

 

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