Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

Introduction

Welcome to the Access Board’s FOIA page. We hope to provide you helpful information about the Access Board and about the Freedom of Information Act. Below is a description of that Act, as well as a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs).

FOIA Officer

Lisa Fairhall, Deputy General Counsel
U.S. Access Board
1331 F Street NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004
202-272-0046 (voice)
202-272-0081 (fax)
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The Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. § 552), provides a right of access to the public of government records. The Act also allows the government to withhold certain information in responding to those requests in nine exemptions, including for national security, deliberative process and attorney client, and confidential business information, to name a few.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does FOIA do?

As noted above, FOIA provides a right of access to the public of government records. The Act also allows the government to withhold certain information in responding to those requests in nine exemptions, including for national security, deliberative process and attorney client, and confidential business information, to name a few.

2. Can I ask a question under FOIA?

Yes, but please be aware that FOIA does not require agencies to do research, analyze data, answer written questions, or to create records in order to respond to a request.

Staff at the Access Board are availble to provide technical assistance on a variety of issues. Please reference our e-mail directory for the types of questions we answer quickly and routinely. If it suits your need, please consider using that contact information instead of submitting a FOIA request.

It is important to understand that there is no central office in the government which processes FOIA requests for all agencies; each Federal agency responds to FOIA requests for records in its own files. Thus, the public may submit FOIA requests to the Access Board to obtain records that are in the Access Board’s files.

3. How do I submit a FOIA request?

Individuals wishing to file a FOIA request must write a letter to submit a FOIA request. Address your letter to:

FOIA Officer,
U.S. Access Board
1331 F Street NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004

You may also fax your letter to: 202-272-0081, or send your request by e-mail to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

4. Do I need to submit a particular form to request documents under FOIA?

No. However, in order to process your request, you need to reasonably describe the records you are looking for, providing as much information as possible (in order for the Access Board to search for them). The Access Board may also contact you to request that you provide more detail.

5. Is there a fee to submit a FOIA request?

The Access Board, like other agencies, may charge a fee for responding to your FOIA request. The amount of thefee depends on who you are and why you are making a FOIA request. The FOIA Act divides requesters into four categories for fees, as described below. In addition, in certain circumstances, the Access Board may request advance payment of fees. You may also indicate, in your letter, how much in fees you are willing to pay, before the Access Board needs to contact you.

Commercial use requesters:
When the Access Board receives a request for documents for commercial use, it will assess charges that recover the full direct cost of searching for, reviewing for release, and duplicating the records sought.
Educational and non-commercial scientific institution requests:
The Access Board shall provide documents to requesters in this category for the cost of reproduction alone, excluding charges for the first 100 pages.
Representatives of the news media:
The Access Board shall provide documents to requesters in this category for the cost of reproduction alone, excluding charges for the first 100 pages.
All other requesters:
The Access Board shall charge requesters who do not fit into any of the categories above fees that recover the full reasonable direct cost of searching for and reproducing records that are responsive to the request, except that the first 100 pages of reproduction and the first two hours of search time shall be furnished without charge.

The Access Board may waive fees, in whole or in part, if “disclosure of the information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.” If you wish to request a waiver of fees, please provide as much information as possible about how you will be using the information in order for the Access Board to make its determination.

Please note that in certain circumstances, such as when fees exceed $250, the Access Board may contact a requester for the advance payment of fees by check or money order payable to the U.S. Treasury.

6. How long will it take to receive an answer to my FOIA request?

The FOIA Act gives the Access Board a minimum of 20 working days (that’s excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal public holidays) to respond to your request. The Access Board can also extend that time period an additional 10 working days (the Access Board will send you a notification when that occurs). The 20-day time period only begins when the Access Board has received your request.

7. What if I have concerns about the processing of my FOIA request or about the response I receive to my FOIA request?

If you have questions or concerns about the status or processing of your request, you may call the FOIA officer, at 202-272-0046. The FOIA Officer is available to assist you in answering questions that you have about your request.