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FOIA General Information

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal statute (5 USC § 552). FOIA generally provides that any person has a right to request access to federal agency records, except to the extent the records are protected from disclosure by any of nine exemptions contained in the law or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions. There are several points to keep in mind regarding the FOIA:

  • Only existing agency records in the custody and control of the agency may be requested.
  • Fees may apply.
  • Agencies have 20 working days to provide an initial response.
  • It may not be necessary to submit a request, the information you are seeking may already be available on our website.

How to Make Your Request

To ensure timely and proper processing of your request, please consider the following:

  • Your request must be made in writing and should clearly state that it is a request under FOIA.
  • Your request must identify you. Provide your:
    • Name
    • Organization (if applicable)
    • Mailing Address
    • Telephone number
    • Email (not required, but helpful)
    • Include any special requestor status, i.e. as member of the news media, educational institution, noncommercial scientific institution, etc.
  • You must provide a "reasonable description" of the records you are seeking. 
  • You must state a willingness to pay any applicable fees.

Click for a Sample Request.

Agencies and requesters are encouraged to work together to define the scope of the request and the timing of the response.

“Reasonable description” of the records means description sufficient enough for us to identify the material requested with a reasonable amount of effort. We are not in the position to do research for you, create records in response to you, or analyze information for you. 

Fee Policy and Waivers

Commercial requesters are required to pay all search, review, and duplication costs.

Educational and noncommercial scientific institutions, as well as news media requesters, are required to pay duplication costs in excess of 100 pages.  Fee waivers may be requested.

All other requesters are required to pay search costs in excess of two hours and duplication costs in excess of 100 pages.  Fee waivers may be requested.

Fees are not assessed for requests totaling less than $15.00, regardless of requester category.

To request a fee waiver or reduction you must provide specific justification as to how the requested information will be used and made available to the general public.  In general, you must justify that the requested information “is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to the public understanding of the operation or activities of the government” and that it is not requested “primarily in the commercial interest of the requester”.  (Army Regulation, AR 25-55, The Department of the Army Freedom of Information Act Program, dated 1 Nov 97, paragraph 6-103.)

FOIA Sample Letter

Date

Freedom of Information Act Request

Agency Head or FOIA Officer

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Office of Counsel
ATTN: FOIA Officer
69A Hagood Avenue
Charleston, SC 29403-5107

Dear FOIA Officer:

Under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C., subsection 552, I am requesting access to [identify the records as clearly and specifically as possible].

I am willing to pay the appropriate fees for this request up to a maximum of $_____. If you estimate that the fees will exceed this limit, please inform me first.

If you have any questions about handling this request, you may telephone me at ___________ (home phone) or at ___________ (office phone).

Sincerely,

{Requesters Name Here}

Send Your Request

FOIA requests applicable to the Charleston District should be addressed to:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Office of Counsel

Attn: FOIA Officer

69A Hagood Avenue

Charleston, SC 29403-5107

Written requests may be sent electronically to the following address:  CESAC-FOIA@usace.army.mil

Contact Us

USACE FOIA Liaison