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Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

DoDEA FOIA Requester Service Center

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was enacted in 1966 and is cited as Title 5 of the United States Code, Section 552 (5 U.S.C. 552), and generally provides that any person has the right to request access to federal agency records or information. It was amended in 1986 and 1996 by what are commonly referred to as the Freedom of Information Reform Act and Electronic FOIA (EFPOA), respectively. The FOIA provided a "right of access" to Federal records that are reasonably described unless they fall within one of the statute's exemptions. The FOIA can be used by anyone regardless of citizenship, and the requester is not required to show need or purpose. All requests must be in writing, and even if responsive material falls within an exemption, it may be disclosed at the agency's discretion unless another law prohibits disclosure.

The FOIA Reform Act and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regulations established a uniform schedule of fees for all agencies. Fees are limited to reasonable standard charges for document search, duplication, and review, when records are requested for commercial use. Requesters are categorized and may only be charged the fees applicable to that category.

  • Commercial requester will be charged for search, review, and copying
  • News Media/Scientific/Educational receive the first 100 pages of copy free of charge
  • Other requesters receive the first 2 hours of search and the first 100 pages of copying free of charge

The Privacy Act (PA) of 1974 (Public Law 93579) 5 U.S.C. 552a has been in effect since September 27, 1975. The purpose of the PA is to balance the government's need to maintain information about individuals with the rights of individuals to be protected against unwarranted invasions of their privacy stemming from federal agencies' collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of personal information about them.

To submit a PA request, you must be a U.S. citizen and be a legally admitted alien. The request must be in writing, include your SSN and signed. PA records are maintained in a PA systems of records notice. The "systems of records" is defined as "a group of records under the control of a DoD Component from which information is retrieved by the individual's name or by some identifying number, symbol, or other identifying particular assigned to the individuals." (i.e., SSN, ID number, etc).

Making a FOIA/PA Request

Procedures for filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and Privacy Act (PA) request with the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) are as follows:

  • There are four basic elements to a FOIA request letter; (1) letter should state that the request is being made under the Freedom of Information Act, (2) request should clearly state the records that are being sought as specifically as possible, do not use acronyms, (3) name, telephone number, and mailing address of the requester must be included. This permits an agency employee processing a request to contact the requester if necessary, and (4) a limitation of the fees that the requester is willing to pay. It is common for a requester to ask to be notified in advance if the charges will exceed a fixed amount. This allows the requester to modify or withdraw a request if the cost may be too high. In addition, by stating a willingness to pay a set amount of fees in the original request letter, a requester may avoid the necessity of additional correspondence and delay.
  • Sometimes included in a FOIA request is a request for a waiver or reduction of fees. Fee waiver requests must clearly describe how granting the fee waiver will likely contribute significantly to public understanding of the operation or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.
  • If you send your FOIA/PA request/s via facsimile or e-mail, you may not use Government equipment or e-mail accounts to file your request. You may fax your request to (571) 372-5829 or to .
  • Under the rules of the FOIA, agencies are given 20 working days to respond to simple requests.
  • The FOIA/PA is a document release mechanism only. The FOIA/PA does not answer questions, create documents, or settle disputes.
  • You must sign your FOIA/PA request/s and if submitting a Privacy Act request, include your social security number.
  • If someone else is submitting a FOIA/PA on your behalf, include a statement authorizing the release of the documents to them and sign the statement.
Where and How to File a FOIA Appeal

If your FOIA request was initially denied in whole or in part, the final FOIA response letter advising you of the denial will also advise you of your right to appeal the determination within 60 days. If you wish to make an appeal you must file your appeal with the correct appellate authority within sixty (60) days. The appellate authority for DoDEA is the Defense Freedom of Information Policy Office. This information, including an address, will be located on all final FOIA response letters that are denied in whole or in part.

Sample FOIA Request Letter
Sample FOIA/PA request letter
DoD FOIA Website
Public information on the DoD FOIA Program
The Office of the Secretary of Defense/Joint Staff
(OSD/JS) FOIA Requester Service Center
Points of Contact

If there are additional question, you may contact Ms. Rachel Swann, 571-372-1890. FOIA requests for the Department of Defense Education Activity should be addressed to:

Department of Defense Education Activity
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
Requester Service Center
4800 Mark Center Dr.
Alexandria, Virginia 22350-1400

Fax: (571) 372-5829

DoDEA's FOIA Requester Service Center is the initial point of contact for FOIA requesters to receive status updates and appropriate information about their requests at DoDEA.

Any requesters which have concerns about the service they are receiving from the FOIA Requester Service Center can raise their concerns with our FOIA Public Liaison, Mr. Jim Hogan. He can be reached by telephone at (571) 372-0462 or via e-mail at

FOIA Library

Section (a)(2) of the FOIA provides for what is commonly referred to as "reading room" access. It applies to certain basic agency records that, while not automatically published under (a)(1) of the Act., must be made "available for public inspection and copying" in agency reading rooms.

In compliance with Section (a)(2) provisions of the FOIA:
5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(2)(A) Records
- Final opinions and orders made in the adjudication of cases that may be cited, used, or relied upon as precedents in future adjudications:

5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(2)(B) Records - Statements of policy and interpretations that have been adopted by the agency and are not published in the Federal Register:

No pages meet the criteria

5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(2)(C) Records - Administrative staff manuals and instructions, or portions thereof, that establish DoD policy or interpretations of policy that affect the public:

 Issuances (DoDEA Regulations; Administrative Instructions; Manuals; Forms; Guidance; DoD Directives, Regulations, and instructions; and links).

5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(2)(D) Records Records released to the public, under the FOIA, that are or will likely become the subject of subsequent requests: