The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), enacted in 1966, generally provides that any person has the right to request access to federal agency records or information. Federal agencies are required to disclose records upon receiving a written request for them, except for those records that are protected from disclosure by any of the nine exemptions or three exclusions of the FOIA. This right of access is enforceable in court.
Implementation of the Freedom of Information Act at DoD
Open and Transparent Government expands upon the principles of full disclosure of information from the government to its citizens, established in the Freedom of Information Act, to further provide a culture in which agencies are responsible for reporting their plans, successes and failures to the citizens they serve. The Department of Defense (DoD) is committed to the Open Government initiative and FOIA is at the core of government transparency at the DoD.
The Defense Freedom of Information Policy Office (DFOIPO) is responsible for implementation of the Department of Defense (DoD) FOIA Program.
DoD FOIA Transparency Resources
Chief FOIA Officer Reports: Attorney General Holder’s FOIA Guidelines require the Chief FOIA Officer for each federal agency to submit a report to the Attorney General containing a detailed description of the steps taken by the agency to improve FOIA compliance and transparency. The report covers DoD activities from March 2011 to March 2012.
DoD FY2011 Annual FOIA Report: DoD is required to prepare an Annual FOIA Report each fiscal year that includes detailed statistics on the number and disposition of FOIA requests and appeals received, processed, and pending. This report is required to be submitted to the Attorney General each year, no later than February 1st. See 5 U.S.C. § 552(e)(1) (2006 & Supp. III 2009).
DoD FOIA Improvement Plan: In response to Executive Order 13392, the Director of Administration and Management (DA&M), as DoD Chief FOIA Officer, published the DoD FOIA Improvement Plan on June 26,2006. This plan and Modification #1 responded to the President’s mandate to eliminate or reduce FOIA backlogs. As documented in the plan, the most effective course of action to take to reduce FOIA backlogs would be to focus backlog reduction efforts in those FOIA offices that have the largest FOIA backlogs. Consistent with Executive Order 13,392, Improving Agency Disclosure of Information, Section 3(c), DoD, submits the following report.
DoD FOIA Backlog Reduction Plan: June 26, 2008, the Office of Information and Privacy, Department of Justice, directed agencies to develop a FOIA backlog reduction plan if they had not reduced their FOIA backlogs between Fiscal years (FY) 2005 and 2007. The Department of Defense (DoD) had a higher FOIA backlog at the end of FY 2007 than the backlog measured at the end of FY 2005. The original DoD FOIA Improvement Plan to implement the provisions of Executive Order 13,392;however, envisioned that backlog reduction in the DoD could not be accomplished until funded in FY 2008. That plan remains on schedule and, accordingly, the Defense Freedom of Information Policy Office (DFOIPO) has elected to submit the following update to the DoD plan in lieu of establishing a new FOIA backlog reduction plan.
DoD FOIA Backlog Milestones and MidYear FOIA Data: In accordance with paragraph 3.vi.(3) of the attachment to the Open Government Directive, The Defense Freedom of Information Policy Office tasked the FOIA Public Liaisons of the Components with significant backlogs to identify the required milestones for their Component.
Making a FOIA Request
Do you want to make a FOIA request for information contained within the files of the Department of Defense?
We strongly recommend you review the Department of Defense (DoD) Freedom of Information Act Handbook which is intended to assist you in making a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the DFOIPO.
As we noted in our Open Government Plan, the Department has a very large and decentralized FOIA Program, with operations at hundreds of FOIA offices worldwide. Due to its size and complexity, each DoD Component (Military Services, Combatant Command and Defense Agency/Activity) operates its own FOIA office and responds directly to the public for their own records.
Find additional DoD FOIA resouces by visiting the Defense Freedom of Information Policy Office (DFOIPO) webpage.
Your Right to Federal Records
The “Your Right to Federal Records” brochure provides basic guidance about the FOIA and the Privacy Act to assist people in exercising their rights. It uses a question-and-answer format to present information about these laws in a clear, simple manner. This brochure is not intended to be a comprehensive analysis of the complex issues associated with the FOIA and the Privacy Act. It also does not discuss the availability of federal agency information electronically, although many federal agencies maintain Internet World Wide Web sites at which a wide range of information is readily available.
The questions answered in this brochure are those frequently asked by persons who contact the Federal Information Center (FIC) for information on the FOIA and the Privacy Act. The answers were compiled by the FIC and the Consumer Information Center (CIC) of the U.S. General Services Administration. They were reviewed by the Department of Justice, the agency responsible for coordinating the administration of the FOIA and encouraging agency compliance with it.