Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
What is the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?
The Freedom of information Act (FOIA), enacted in 1966, provides public access to Federal agency records. This right of access is enforceable in court, except for records that are protected from disclosure by the nine exemptions to the FOIA.
What information is available under the FOIA?
FOIA provides access to agency records generated by that agency (or releasable portions of those records) -- except those protected from release by nine specific exemptions.
The following are the nine FOIA exemptions and the information they cover:
- Classified national defense and foreign relations information;
- Internal agency personnel rules and practices;
- Material prohibited from disclosure by another law;
- Trade secrets and other confidential business information;
- Certain inter-agency, or intra-agency communications;
- Personnel, medical, and other files involving personal privacy;
- Certain records compiled for law enforcement purposes;
- Matters relating to financial institutions;
- and Geological information on oil wells.
Note: many Bureau files - for example, surveys, land ownership, mining claims, rights-of-way, patents, grazing leases and permits, timber sales, etc. - are public records. A FOIA request is NOT needed to review or copy such files.
How long will it take to answer my request?
Federal agencies are required to answer your request for information within 20-working days of receipt of your request at the office responsible for the records (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays). For FOIA request received by e-mail, the "receipt" date is considered the date the e-mail message is opened by the Bureau responsible for the information. Sometimes an agency may need more than 20-working days to find the records, examine them, possibly consult with other persons or agencies, and decide whether it may disclose the records requested. If so, the agency is required to inform you before the deadline. Agencies have the right to extend this period up to 10 working days.
How should I make a FOIA request?
A FOIA request must be made in writing to the agency/office that has the records. The envelope and face of the written request should be marked "Freedom of Information Act Request." The request should identify the records that are being sought, as specifically as possible. Your name, address and telephone number should be included for the processing of your request.
Where Should I File a FOIA request?
You should file your FOIA request with the Bureau of Land Management office that has the records you are seeking.
Who can answer my questions about filing FOIA requests?
Contact Kathleen Christian, firstname.lastname@example.org, (916) 978-4409, or write to the Bureau of Land Management, FOIA, 2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-1623, Sacramento, CA 95825.
Is there a cost?
Fees vary with the status or purpose of the requester. A requester may have to provide additional information to permit the agency to determine appropriate fees. For more information, visit the Bureau of Land Management National Office FOIA page; or, the U.S. Department of Interior FOIA page.