PERMISS

Freedom of Information Act


Freedom of Information Act Reference Guide for Civilian Personnel Requests


Introduction

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Title 5 of the United States Code, section 552, gives you the right to request access to federal agency records or information. All U.S. government agencies are required to disclose agency records to the public unless the records are protected by one or more of the FOIA's nine exemptions or three exclusions. The nine exemption categories that authorize government agencies to withhold information are:


(1) classified information for national defense or foreign policy;
(2) internal personnel rules and practices;
(3) information that is exempt under other laws;
(4) trade secrets and confidential business information;
(5) inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda or letters that are protected by legal privileges;
(6) personnel and medical files;
(7) law enforcement records or information;
(8) information concerning bank supervision; and
(9) geological and geophysical information.

The three exclusions are rarely used and pertain to particularly sensitive law enforcement and national security matters.


OFFICE OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE ARMY (MANPOWER AND RESERVE AFFAIRS) IS AUTHORIZED TO ACT ON REQUESTS FOR CIVILIAN PERSONNEL RECORDS, PERSONNEL ADMINISTRATION AND OTHER CIVILIAN PERSONNEL MATTERS, EXCEPT FOR EEO (CIVILIAN) MATTERS WHICH WILL BE ACTED ON BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT TO THE SECRETARY OF THE ARMY. THE DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE ARMY (CIVILIAN PERSONNEL POLICY)/DIRECTOR OF CIVILIAN PERSONNEL HAS DELEGATED THIS AUTHORITY TO THE CHIEF, _____________________________.


Program Support Division
ATTN: DAPE-CPS
2461 Eisenhower Avenue (Hoffman I) Room 460
Alexandria, VA 22332-0300


Point of Contact: Nancy King
Phone: (703) 325-7270
Fax: (703) 325-9050

PERMISS FOIA IDA OFFICER: Nancy King
FOIA IDA OFFICER EMAIL ADDRESS: nancy.b.king@us.army.mil
PUBLIC LIAISON: Barbara Earnest
PUBLIC LIAISAON EMAIL ADDRESS: AG1CPFOIA@conus.army.mil


If you are uncertain about which office has the records that you are requesting, contact the CPOC that issued the referral request or contact your local CPAC or the office that maintains the responsive records.


If you send your FOIA request by mail, please remember to write "Attention: FOIA Request" on the front of your request envelope.


How to make a FOIA Request
You may make a FOIA request for any agency records; however, the records may be protected by one of the FOIA exemptions or exclusions. You must submit your FOIA request in writing and prominently note, "Freedom of Information Act Request" on the first page. Your FOIA request should describe the records sought in sufficient detail to enable the the office that maintains the responsive records to locate the records with a reasonable amount of effort. Whenever possible, you should include specific information about each record sought, such as the date, number, title or name, author, recipient, and subject matter of the record.


Please be aware that the FOIA does not require an agency to do research for you, to analyze data, to answer written questions, or to create records in response to a request.


Time for Response
FOIA has three methods for responding to your FOIA request. The methods, which have different response times, are regular processing, expedited processing, and extended response time processing.


Regular Processing

Once the appropriate CPOC office receives your FOIA request, it will determine within twenty days (excluding Saturday, Sundays, and legal public holidays) whether to disclose or deny the records sought.


Expedited Processing

You may be entitled to expedited processing of your FOIA request if you certify that you have a compelling need. A compelling need may be a threat to someone's life or physical safety. You may also have a compelling need if you are primarily engaged in disseminating information to the public and the information is urgently needed to inform the public concerning actual or alleged Federal Government activity. The request for expedited processing must include your reasons why your request should be expedited. You should also certify that your reasons are true and correct. The appropriate office will notify you of its decision to expedite your request within ten days after receiving your request. If the CPOC/CPAC or the office that maintains the resquested records decides to expedite your request, it will be processed as soon as practicable. If the office denies your request for expedited processing, you have the right to submit an appeal, which will be handled as expeditiously as possible.


Extended Response Time processing

Under the FOIA, POC may extend the response time for an additional ten business days based upon unusual circumstances involved in the request, such as the volume of records sought.


Fees
An FOIA office will furnish, without charge, reasonable quantities of material that it has available for free distribution to the public. Under the FOIA, certain fees are permitted to be charged for processing FOIA requests.


Fees may vary depending on the requester's category. Commercial requesters may be charged fees for searching, reviewing, and duplicating records. Noncommercial requesters, such as educational or scientific institutions and the news media, are only charged for the duplicating expenses, after the first 100 pages of copies. All other requesters who do not fall within either of these two categories are not charged for the review of the records, only for the search and duplication of the records. No charge is assessed for the first two hours of search time or for the first 100 pages of copies.


Fees less than $25.00

If the total fee for searching, reviewing, and duplicating is less than $25.00, no fee is assessed.


Fees between $25.00 and $250.00

If the estimated fees are between $25.00 and $250.00, the FOIA office and the IDA will not release the records unless you have agreed to pay all fees at the time of your request. If you do not include an acceptable agreement to pay the fees at the time of your request, the FOIA will promptly notify you of the estimated fees. Once you provide the FOIA Office with an agreement to pay all fees, the FOIA Office will release the records.


Fees over $250.00

If the estimated fees exceed $250.00, the FOIA Office may require you to pay the fees in advance.


Fee Waivers

FOIA POC may waive fees, if the disclosure of the requested information contributes significantly to public's understanding of the operation or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.


Initial Request Determination
Once the FOIA office has processed your request and any fee issues have been resolved, the office will send you a written notice explaining its determination to disclose or deny records. If information is being withheld, OPM will specify the FOIA exemption that pertains to the denial. You will also be advised of your right to appeal any adverse determination. If pages of the requested information are withheld in their entirety, the FOIA Office will usually specify the number of pages being withheld or will make a reasonable effort to estimate the amount of withheld information.
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FOIA Officers should follow the guidance below:


Excerpt taken from Federal Register, dated Wednesday, February 22, 2006, Department of the Army, 32 CFR Part 518, The Freedom of Information Act Policy, Final Rule.

518.16 Initial determinations.

It is crucial to forward complete packets to the IDAs. Ensure cover letters list all attachments and describe from where the records were obtained, i.e., a PA system of records (including the applicable systems notice), or other. If a FOIA action is complicated, include a chronology of events to assist the IDA in understanding what happened in the course of processing the FOIA request. If a file does not include documentation described below, include the tab, and insert a page marked "not used". The order and contents of FOIA file attachments follow: (Tab A or 1) The original FOIA request and envelope (if applicable); (Tab B or 2) The response letter; (Tab C or 3) Copies of all records entirely released, single-sided; (Tab D or 4) Copies of administrative processing of documents, including extension letters and "no records" certificates, in chronological order; (Tab E or 5) Copies of all records partially released or entirely denied, single-sided. For partially released records, mark in yellow highlighter (or other readable highlighter) those portions withheld; and (Tab F or 6) Legal opinion(s).
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Appeals
When FOIA IDA POC denies records or a fee waiver, you may file an appeal in writing through the office listed below who will then forward it to the office of the General Counsel (OGC).


Department of the Army
Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1
Policy & Program Development Division
ATTN: DAPE-CPD-EP
2461 Eisenhower Avenue (Hoffman I) Room 152
Alexandria, VA 22332-0300

An appeal should include a copy of the initial request, a copy of the letter denying the request, and a statement explaining why you disagree with IDA's decision. You should write, "Freedom of Information Act Appeal" on the front of the envelope and on the first page of the appeal letter.



AGENCY COMPONENTS
Director, CHRA
ATTN: PECP-CH
5440 Student Drive
APG, MD 21005-5200

Army Benefits Center - Civilian
303 Marshall Avenue
Fort Riley, KS 66442-5004

Europe Region
Civilian Personnel Operations Center
ATTN: PECP-EUR-A
Unit 29150
APO AE 09100

Korea Region
Civilian Personnel Operations Center
ATTN: PECP-KOR-A - Unit #15746
APO AP 96218-0171

North Central Region
Civilian Personnel Operations Center
ATTN: PECP-NCR-A
Room 108, Building 56
Rock Island, IL 61299-7650

North East Region
Civilian Personnel Operations Center
ATTN: PECP-NER-B
314 Johnson Street, Room 100
Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 21005-5000

South Central
Civilian Personnel Operations Center
ATTN: PECP-SCR-B
John J. Sparkman Complex
Bldg 5304
Redstone Arsenal, AL 35898-5222

South West Region
Civilian Personnel Operations Center
ATTN: PECP-SWR-A
29 Arnold Avenue
Fort Riley, KS 66442

West Region
Civilian Personnel Operations Center
ATTN: PECP-WER-B
Fort Huachuca, AZ 85613



Content last reviewed: 5/21/2008-VLH