The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) generally provides that any person has a right, enforceable in court, to obtain access to federal agency records, except to the extent that such records (or portions of them) are protected from public disclosure by one of nine exemptions, or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions.
The principles of government openness and accountability underlying the FOIA are inherent in the democratic ideal: "The basic purpose of the FOIA is to ensure an informed citizenry, vital to the functioning of a democratic society, needed to check against corruption and to hold the governors accountable to the governed."
CLICK HERE for the full text of the Freedom of Information Act.
Members of the public, including foreign citizens, military and civilian personnel acting as private citizens, organizations and businesses, and individual members of the Congress for themselves or constituents, may request records in writing. It is important to remember that the Freedom of Information Act applies only to federal agencies. It does not create a right of access to records held by Congress, the courts, state or local government agencies, or by private businesses or individuals. Each state has its own public access laws that should be consulted for access to state and local records.
If you are only seeking a copy of a record or records that are currently classified, and would like the record reviewed for appropriate declassification and release, you should file a Mandatory Declassification Review request. Mandatory Declassification Review is a provision of Presidential Executive Order 13526 that allows members of the public to request a mandatory declassification review of a classified document in order to obtain a releasable version of the document.
The desired document requested must be specified in sufficient detail that it can be readily located. The record in question may not be the subject of litigation. The mandatory declassification review process can be a very timely and in-depth, due to the classification of materials being reviewed by internal and outside agencies. MDR decisions can be administratively appealed to the Headquarters Air Force/AAII (Mandatory Declassification Review) or Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP).
Requests for review and release of classified records under the MDR process can be made to:
Headquarters Air Force/AAII (Mandatory Declassification Review)
1000 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, DC 20330-1000
Telephone: (703) 695-2226
The FOIA allows fee charges based on the requester's category. There are three categories: commercial (pay search, review, and reproduction fees); educational, non-commercial scientific institution, and news media (pay reproduction fees; first 100 pages provided at no cost); and others (pay search and reproduction fees; first two hours search and 100 pages provided at no cost). For information on FOIA fees read PART 286--DoD FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT PROGRAM REGULATION
If you are advised or expect that a fee will be charged, you may request in writing a waiver of those fees if the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations and activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester. The mere fact that you are a non-profit organization or a member of the media does not in and of itself qualify for a fee waiver. In addition, a requester's inability to pay is not a legal basis for granting a fee waiver.
Submit your request to:
Westover FOIA Office
800 Eagle Dr., Box 38
Chicopee, MA 01022-1818
If dissatisfied with the service received from the FOIA Requester Service Center, you may contact the Air Force FOIA Public Liaison Office at (703) 614-8500.
For information on how and what's required to submit a Privacy request click here