The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), enacted in 1966, pertains to a person's right of access to federal agency records, except those protected from disclosure by a set of exemptions and special law enforcement record exclusions.
The general public (whether or not they are United States citizens), military personnel or civilians, organizations, businesses and members of Congress (for themselves or their constituents), may request records under the FOIA.
The FOIA applies only to federal agency records, which means documents held by the U.S. federal government's executive branch.
The following types of information regarding federal agencies must either be published in the Federal Register or made available for inspection and copying without the formality of a FOIA request:
- Descriptions of agency organization and office addresses
- Statements of the general course and method of agency operation
- Rules of procedure and descriptions of forms
- Substantive rules of general applicability and general policy statements
- Final opinions made in the adjudication of a case
- Administrative staff manuals that affect the public
A federal agency's other records may be requested under the FOIA. A record, under the FOIA, refers to any information that is in the possession, custody or control of a federal agency. Federal agency employees' personal notes are not considered agency records.
A FOIA request should be made in writing. A short and simple letter will suffice. It should be signed. It should state that the request for information is being made under the FOIA. The letter should specify the information being requested. The name, address and telephone number of the requester should be clearly indicated. A fee may be assessed to cover some or all of the processing costs.
Send FOIA requests to the following address:
P.O. Box 100190
Mail Code AG-615
Columbia, SC 29202-3190
Telephone: (803) 763-8129
Fax: (803) 382-2439
Note: At this time, Palmetto GBA cannot accept or respond to FOIA requests over the Internet.