The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. Section 552, provides a process by which U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, organizations, universities, businesses, and state and local governments can request access to federal agency records and information.
Federal agencies are required to disclose records upon receipt of a written request for them – unless those records are protected from disclosure by any of nine exemptions and three exclusions provided by the Act.
The FOIA applies only to federal agencies and the existing records in their custody. It does not create access to records held by Congress, the Federal Courts, parts of the Executive Office of the President, or state or local governments.
In addition to the FOIA, Department of Defense Regulation 5400.7-R (1998) and Department of Defense Directive 5400.07 (2008) govern how requests will be processed within the Department of Defense (DoD) and its components.
The Requester Service Center for the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense and Joint Staff processes requests for records in the possession and control of DoD field activities, including National Defense University.
How to Submit a FOIA Request to National Defense University
Electronic Reading Room: Before making your request, you may wish to browse the DoD Reading Room. The site contains digital copies of materials made available by DoD in response to previous FOIA requests, including materials relevant to National Defense University.
Information Required: If you must request the information you need, you should be prepared to provide complete contact information (full name, mailing address, telephone number and e-mail address), and to thoroughly identify the records desired as specifically as possible. For example, “I’m requesting a copy of a September 24, 1993 Memorandum from the Secretary of Defense to the Defense Agencies on the subject of the Fiscal Year 1994 Budget.”
Costs: You are required to state your willingness to pay for the cost of processing the request. The figure should identify the maximum dollar amount you are willing to pay. If you wish to request a fee waiver, consult The Code of Federal Regulations, Title 32, Part 286 Section 28(d) for qualifying factors.
The FOIA allows fees to be charged as follows:
- Commercial, trade and for-profit requesters pay all fees for search, review and duplication.
- Educational institutions pay only duplication fees and the first 100 pages are provided at no cost (Note: Students are not considered educational requestors.)
- Non-commercial, scientific institutions pay only duplications fees, and the first 100 pages are provided at no cost.
- News media pay only duplications fees, and the first 100 pages are provided at no cost.
- “Other” requestors, who fail to qualify in another category, receive two hours of search time, all review costs and the first 100 pages at no cost.
Where to File: To file an electronic FOIA request for NDU records (preferred), complete the Requestor Service Center form available at http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/index.html.
Requesters may also submit FOIA requests via facsimile to (703) 696-4506), or by mailing their request to:
OSD/JS FOIA Requester Service Center
Office of Freedom of Information
1155 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1155
Response Time: Whenever possible, the Requester Service of the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense and Joint Staff will make an initial determination to release or deny requested records within 20 business days after receipt of the request by the official who is designated to respond.
Exemptions: The FOIA provides access to federal agency records except those protected from release by nine specific exemptions. Those exemptions are:
(2) Internal personnel rules and practices
(3) Exempt by other statute
(4) Commercial information that would cause competitive harm
(5) Pre-decisional, deliberative information
(6) Invasion of personal privacy
(7) Compiled for law enforcement purposes
(8) Records for the use of any agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions
(9) Records containing geological and geophysical information (including maps) concerning wells
Appeal Request: If your request is initially denied in whole or in part, you will be advised of your appeal rights and the proper procedures for submitting the appeal within 60 days.
Resources: The following links provide helpful and detailed information on the Freedom of Information Act and DoD’s FOIA policies:
For records 25 years or older, please direct your request to the National Archives and Records Administration.
If you are seeking records on yourself, this is a Privacy Act request and you will need to provide proof of identity. Also, if you are seeking records of a personal nature on another living individual, you must provide a release from that party to obtain these records. This type of request is not appropriate for submission via electronic or facsimile transmission.
DoD no longer routinely releases lists of names of Department of Defense personnel. This includes active duty military, civilian employees, contractors, members of the National Guard and Reserves, military dependents, and Coast Guard personnel when the Coast Guard is operating as a service in the Navy.
Revised: 3 August 2010