United States Army Intelligence and Security Command
INSCOM

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) & Privacy Act Office

Commander, INSCOM
ATTN: IAMG-C-FOI
4552 Pike Road
Fort Meade, MD
20755-5995

Fax:
(301) 677-2956

Email: FOIA/Privacy Office

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What exactly is the FOIA?
  2. Who can file a FOIA request?
  3. Who is subject to the FOIA and what type of information can be requested?
  4. In what order will your agency process my request for information?
  5. I need a fast response; how can I get expedited treatment for my request?
  6. Why didn't I get what I asked for?
  7. What is a record?
  8. Can we ask questions under the FOIA?
  9. What are the reasons for not releasing a record?
  10. What are the FOIA exemptions?
  11. Can I appeal a denial?
  12. How long will it take for my request to be processed?
  13. Do I have to pay for a FOIA request?


1. What exactly is the FOIA?

The FOIA is a Federal law that establishes the public’s right to request existing records from Federal government agencies. All the information and records we create while performing our official government duties is public information. The public has a right to information concerning the activities of its Government; a basic right which came from the founding fathers and a cornerstone to living in a free and open society. The FOIA protects this right for U.S. citizens who desire access to government records and information.

^ Back to Top ^


2. Who can file a FOIA request?

Any "person" can file a FOIA request, including U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, organizations, universities, businesses, and state and local governments.

^ Back to Top ^


3. Who is subject to the FOIA and what type of information can be requested?

The FOIA’s scope includes Federal Executive Branch Departments, agencies, and offices, Federal regulatory agencies, and Federal corporations. Congress, the Federal Courts, and parts of the Executive Office of the President are not subject to the FOIA. State and local governments are likewise not subject to the Federal FOIA, but some states have their own equivalent access laws for state records. At the Office of the Secretary of Defense/Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff level, you may expect to find policy, planning and budgetary information for the DOD.

^ Back to Top ^


4. In what order will your agency process my request for information?

Every requester is entitled to courteous treatment, serious consideration of his or her request, a reasonable search, careful review of the responsive documents, if any, and a response as quickly as possible.

^ Back to Top ^


5. I need a fast response; how can I get expedited treatment for my request?

Our agency will approve requests for expedited processing only when the requester has demonstrated a “compelling need” to the satisfaction of our agency. The FOIA statutue and the Agency’s regulations define a “compelling need” as:

  • a matter involving imminent threat to the life or safety of an individual; or
  • present when a person primarily engaged in disseminating information asks for information relevant to a matter of public urgency regarding actual or alleged federal government activity.

When our agency grants a request for expedited processing, the request moves to the head of the processing line. Therefore, once our agency has started to process a FOIA request, a request for expedited processing becomes moot. Our agency must decide whether to grant a request for expedited processing within 10 calendar days of receiving a proper request.

^ Back to Top ^


6. Why didn’t I get what I asked for?

The Freedom of Information Act authorizes government agencies to protect certain information from release, including, but not limited to, information that is currently and properly classified. All requesters receive an explanation of these exemptions with the Agency’s response. Our agency cannot withhold requested, responsive information unless one of the nine of the FOIA’s exemptions applies.

^ Back to Top ^


7. What is a record?

A record is the product(s) of data compilation, such as books, papers, maps, and photographs, machine readable materials, inclusive of this in electronic form or format, or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by an agency of the United States Government under Federal law in connection is the transaction of public business and in Department of Defense possession and in control at the time the FOIA request is made.

^ Back to Top ^


8. Can we ask questions under the FOIA?

The FOIA does not require Federal Agencies to answer, render opinions, or provide subjective evaluations. Requesters must ask for existing records, such as those mentioned above.

^ Back to Top ^


9. What are the reasons for not releasing a record?

There are several reasons why USAINSCOM may not release a record when a request is made under the FOIA. They are:

  • The request is transferred to another DOD component or Federal agency.
  • USAINSCOM determines through knowledge of its files and reasonable search efforts that it neither controls nor otherwise possesses the requested record.
  • A record has not been described with sufficient detail to enable USAINSCOM to locate it by conducting a reasonable search.
  • The requestor has failed unreasonably to comply with procedural requirements, including payment of fees imposed.
  • The request is withdrawn by the requester.
  • The information requested is not a record within the meaning of the FOIA, and the DOD regulation.
  • The record is denied in whole or in part in accordance with exemptions set forth in the FOIA and the DOD regulation.

^ Back to Top ^


10. What are the FOIA exemptions?

Records (or portions of records) will be disclosed unless that disclosure harms an interest protected by a FOIA exemption. The nine FOIA exemptions are:

  1. CLASSIFIED - Records currently and properly classified in the interest of national security.
  2. INTERNAL - Records related solely to internal personnel rules and practices, which if released, would allow circumvention of an agency function.
  3. STATUTE - Records protected by another law that specifically exempts information from public release.
  4. TRADE SECRETS - Trade secrets, commercial or financial information obtained from a private source which would cause substantial competitive harm to the source if disclosed.
  5. PREDECISIONAL - Internal records that are deliberative in nature and are part of the decision-making process that contain opinions and recommendations.
  6. PRIVACY - Records which if released, would result in a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
  7. LAW ENFORCEMENT - Investigatory records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes.
  8. BANK RECORDS - Records for the use of any agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions.
  9. WELLS - Records containing geological and geophysical information (including maps) concerning wells.

^ Back to Top ^


11. Can I appeal a denial?

Yes. If your request is initially denied in whole or in part under one or more of the above exemptions or denied for some other reason, you will be advised of your appeal rights and the proper procedures for submitting the appeal within 60 days.

^ Back to Top ^


12. How long will it take for my request to be processed?

This is a difficult question to answer because of the size and complexity of USAINSCOM and its components. In fairness to all requesters, USAINSCOM processes requests in order of date of receipt and first in first out processing. Whenever possible, an initial determination to release or deny a record is made within 20 working days after receipt of the request. However, due to the volume of requests received annually, USAINSCOM is unable to answer all of them within the statute’s time requirements.

Under certain conditions, expedited access may be granted if there is a compelling need, such as a threat to life and safety; if a person engaged in disseminating information has an urgency to inform the public on actual or alleged Federal Government activity; an imminent loss of substantial due process rights; or a humanitarian need.

^ Back to Top ^


13. Do I have to pay for a FOIA request?

The FOIA 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 following 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. Again, 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 public 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. Again, 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 records for their personal use. "Other" requesters receive two hours search, all review costs, and the first 100 pages at no cost.

All requesters should submit a willingness to pay fees, regardless of the fee category, however, this does not mean you will be charged fees. Except for commercial requesters whose fees total more than $15, waivers are always considered. Fee waivers may be granted when disclosure of the records is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government. The following factors are weighed in making the fee waiver determination:

  • The subject of the request.
  • The informative value of the information to be disclosed.
  • The contribution to an understanding of the subject by the general public likely to result from the disclosure.
  • The significance of the information is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.
  • The ability of the requester to disseminate the information.

^ Back to Top ^

  1. Accessibility/
    Section 508

     
  2. Employment
     
  3. Contact
     
  4. Web Policy
     
  5. Quick Links
     
  6. Operating Status
     
  7. INSCOM AKO
     
  8. INSCOM History
     
  9. Site Map
     
  10. isalute
     
Site Last Updated: 13APR2016