The Freedom of Information Act generally provides that any person has a right, enforceable in court, to obtain access to federal agency records, except to the extent that such records (or portions of them) are protected from public disclosure by one of nine exemptions, or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions.
The principles of government openness and accountability underlying the FOIA are inherent in the democratic ideal: "The basic purpose of the FOIA is to ensure an informed citizenry, vital to the functioning of a democratic society, needed to check against corruption and to hold the governors accountable to the governed."
Members of the public, including foreign citizens, military and civilian personnel acting as private citizens, organizations and businesses, and individual members of the Congress for themselves or constituents, may request records in writing. It is important to remember that the Freedom of Information Act applies only to federal agencies. It does not create a right of access to records held by Congress, the courts, state or local government agencies, or by private businesses or individuals. Each state has its own public access laws that should by consulted for access to state and local records.
Fees for processing FOIA requests
The FOIA allows fee charges based on the requester's category. There are three categories: commercial (pay search, review and reproduction fees); educational, noncommercial scientific institution and news media (pay reproduction fees; first 100 pages provided at no cost); and others (pay search and reproduction fees; first two hours search and 100 pages provided at no cost).
If advised or expect that a fee will be charged, people may request in writing a waiver of those fees if the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations and activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester. The mere fact that people are a nonprofit organization or a member of the media does not in and of itself qualify for a fee waiver. In addition, a requester's inability to pay is not a legal basis for granting a fee waiver.
Where to send FOIA requests
For fastest response times, the Air Force has decentralized its FOIA program where people can submit a FOIA inquiry online. No single office handles all FOIA requests. If people prefer not to submit online, they can send requests to the particular base or activity that has the requested records. If people don't know which Air Force activity has the requested records, send the request to: HAF/IMII, 1000 Air Force Pentagon, Washington DC 20330-1000; or fax 703-693-2746.
How to make FOIA requests
Submit a FOIA inquiry online. For mailing/faxing contact the FOIA Requester Service Center where the record is located, describe the records requested as specifically as possible, and let the office know how much you are willing to pay. Furnish any facts or clues about the time, place, persons, events, subjects or other details of the information or requested records. That will help the office decide where to search and determine what records pertain to the request. It can also save time and money, and requestors may get what they want faster. There is no special form to complete. Mark request and envelope "FOIA."
For Submitting Privacy Requests
If people are seeking records on themselves, this is a Privacy Act request and they will need to provide proof of identity. At this time, all Privacy Act request must be submitted by mailing/faxing directly to the appropriate Requester Service Center. Privacy Act information available here.
NOTE: Air Force-affiliated requesters, including military and civilian employees, should not use government equipment, supplies, stationery, postage, telephones or official mail channels to make FOIA requests. Requests should be made through personal e-mail or postal service.
Release of e-mail addresses
Air Force policy is to deny requests for lists of e-mail addresses (both personal and organizational) using FOIA exemption (b)(2)(high). FOIA exemption (b)(6) denies requests for lists of personal e-mail addresses. High (b)(2) protects internal information, the disclosure of which would risk circumvention of a statute or agency regulation. Because DOD e-mail systems are to be used only for official and authorized purposes, the addresses are considered primarily internal. The regulations at issue that could be circumvented include DOD and Air Force regulations that require limited use of e-mail to authorized purposes, and to protect the security of computer and information systems. Exemption (b)(6) protects information that if released would permit a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. This does not prohibit an organization from including a single e-mail address on a Web page or in correspondence.
Freedom of Information Act
18420 E. Silver Creek Ave.
Bldg 390 MS68
Buckley AFB CO 80011
Total Force Service Center-Aurora
(800) 525-0102 // DSN 847-3294
Electronic Reading Room
The Air Force Reading Room site is the single site for all Air Force Reading Room records. The 1996 amendments to the Freedom of Information Act mandate publicly accessible "electronic reading rooms" with agency FOIA response materials and other information routinely available to the public.
The Official Web Site of Air Reserve Personnel Center