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e-CFR data is current as of October 16, 2020

Title 36Chapter XIISubchapter CPart 1250 → Subpart B


Title 36: Parks, Forests, and Public Property
PART 1250—NARA RECORDS SUBJECT TO FOIA


Subpart B—How To Request Records Under FOIA


Contents
§1250.20   What do I include in my FOIA request?
§1250.22   Where do I send my FOIA request?
§1250.24   Does NARA accept electronic FOIA requests?
§1250.26   How does NARA process my FOIA request?
§1250.27   How does NARA determine estimated completion dates for FOIA requests?
§1250.28   How do I request expedited processing?
§1250.30   How does NARA respond to my request?
§1250.32   How may I request assistance with the FOIA process?
§1250.38   In what format does NARA provide copies?

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§1250.20   What do I include in my FOIA request?

In your FOIA request, which must be submitted in writing:

(a) Describe the records you seek in sufficient detail to enable NARA staff to locate them with a reasonable amount of effort. The more information you provide, the better possibility NARA has of finding the records you are seeking. Information that will help NARA find the records includes:

(1) The agencies, offices, or individuals involved;

(2) The approximate date(s) when the records were created;

(3) The subject, title, or description of the records sought; and

(4) Author, recipient, case number, file designation, or reference number.

(b) Include your name and full mailing address as well as phone number and email address. This information allows us to reach you faster if we have any questions about your request. It is your responsibility to keep your current mailing address up to date with the office where you have filed the FOIA request.

(c) If you request records about yourself, you must do so in accordance with the Privacy Act and our implementing regulations at 36 CFR part 1202. This includes requirements to verify your identity (see 36 CFR 1202.40). If you request records about someone other than yourself, you may receive greater access if you submit either a notarized document signed by the other person that certifies their identity and gives their permission for you to have access, or proof that the other person is deceased (e.g., a copy of a death certificate or an obituary). NARA may, at its discretion, require you to supply additional information if necessary to verify that a particular individual has consented to disclosure of records about them.

(d) Mark both your letter and envelope, or the subject line of your email, with the words “FOIA Request.”

(e) Before filing your request, you may find it helpful to consult NARA's “Freedom of Information Act Reference Guide”—which is available electronically at http://www.archives.gov/foia/foia-guide.html, and in paper form. For a paper copy of NARA's FOIA Guide, write to: NARA FOIA Officer (NGC); Room 3110; National Archives and Records Administration; 8601 Adelphi Road; College Park, MD 20740-6001. For additional information about the FOIA, you may refer directly to the statute at 5 U.S.C. 552 or visit http://www.foia.gov.

[79 FR 56504, Sept. 22, 2014, as amended at 82 FR 8902, Feb. 1, 2017]

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§1250.22   Where do I send my FOIA request?

(a) NARA has several FOIA Customer Service Centers that process FOIA requests. You should send your FOIA request to the appropriate FOIA Customer Service Center that you believe would have the records you seek:

For:Mail or email request to:
(1) Archival records located in the Washington, DC, area .  .  Chief, Special Access and FOIA Staff (RD-F), Room 5500, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001 OR by e-mail to Specialaccess__foia@nara.gov.
(2) Archival records maintained in other parts of the country .  .  .  .  . the director of the facility in which the records are located. You can find locations and contact information for NARA facilities at http://www.archives.gov/locations/ or 36 CFR 1253.5.
(3) Presidential records subject to FOIA .  .  ..  .  . the director of the Presidential library in which the records are located. You can find locations and contact information for NARA's Presidential libraries at http://www.archives.gov/locations/ or 36 CFR 1253.3.
(4) Operational records of any NARA unit except the Office of the Inspector General .  .  NARA FOIA Officer (NGC), Room 3110, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001 OR by email to FOIA@nara.gov OR online at https://foiaonline.regulations.gov.
(5) Operational records of the Office of the Inspector General .  .  Office of the Inspector General (OIG), FOIA Request, Room 1300, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001.
(6) Any other records, or if you are unable to determine where to send your request or if you do not have access to the internet for a list of NARA's FOIA (7) Public Liaisons and Customer Service Centers .  .  NARA FOIA Officer (NGC), Room 3110, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001 OR call (301) 837-FOIA (3642) **Within 10 working days of receiving a request, this office will forward your request to the office(s) that is likely to have the records you are seeking.

(b) NARA officially receives your request when it reaches the proper office's FOIA staff, but no later than 10 working days after the request first arrives at one of the offices in the table above. Receipt by the appropriate office initiates the time period for responding to your request (see 36 CFR 1250.26).

(c) If you have questions concerning the processing of your FOIA request, you may contact the designated FOIA Customer Service Center for the facility processing your request. If that initial contact does not resolve your concerns, you may wish to contact the designated FOIA Public Liaison for the facility processing your request. You can find a list of NARA's FOIA Customer Service Centers and Public Liaisons at http://www.archives.gov/foia/contacts.html.

[79 FR 56504, Sept. 22, 2014, as amended at 82 FR 8902, Feb. 1, 2017]

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§1250.24   Does NARA accept electronic FOIA requests?

Yes. You may submit and track requests for NARA operational records through the FOIAonline program, accessible at https://foiaonline.regulations.gov, or by sending an email to FOIA@nara.gov. The body of the message must contain all of the information listed in 36 CFR 1250.20. You may also file a FOIA request by emailing your request to the offices listed in the table at 36 CFR 1250.22.

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§1250.26   How does NARA process my FOIA request?

(a) Acknowledgement. NARA acknowledges all FOIA requests in writing within 20 working days after receipt by the appropriate office (see 36 CFR 1250.22). The acknowledgement letter or email informs you of your request tracking number, and any complexity in processing that may lengthen the time NARA requires to reach a final decision on the release of the records. The acknowledgement letter or email may also seek additional information to clarify your request or to ask you to narrow the scope of a very large or broad request.

(b) Clarification of requests. Requests must reasonably describe the records sought. If we determine that a request does not reasonably describe the records sought, or if we are uncertain about another aspect of the request, we contact you to ask for clarification.

(c) Search cut-off date. As the end or cut-off date for a records search, NARA uses the date on which we first begin our search for documents responsive to your request, unless you specify an earlier cut-off date. This includes those cases when you request records “through the present,” “through today,” or similar language. If NARA uses any other search end date, we inform you of that date.

(d) Stops in processing time, clarification requests, and administrative closure. NARA may stop the clock for processing a request one time in order to seek your clarification. In such a case, the processing time resumes upon our receipt of your response. We provide at least 60 calendar days for you to respond to a request for clarification. If you do not clarify the request within 60 calendar days, we deny the request for not reasonably describing the records sought and provide you with the opportunity to appeal under the procedures in Subpart D. Should you not answer any correspondence, or should the correspondence be returned as undeliverable, NARA reserves the right to administratively close the FOIA request 60 calendar days after the date of the last correspondence we send.

(e) Confidential commercial information. If you have requested records containing confidential commercial information, refer to 36 CFR 1250.82 for information on how we process that request.

(f) Processing queues. NARA places FOIA requests in simple or complex processing queues to be processed in the order received, on a first-in, first-out basis. In most cases, we make a determination about release of the records you requested within 20 working days from when the appropriate office receives your request (simple queue processing). However, if complexity or unusual circumstances prevent NARA from making a decision within 20 working days, we place your request into a complex processing queue. This way, such cases do not hold up the processing of other requests that do not include such time-consuming factors. We notify you of complicating factors in our acknowledgement letter or email, and you may choose to limit the scope of your request to convert the complex processing queue request to a simple processing queue request. For more detailed information on NARA's multi-track processing queues, see our FOIA Guide at http://www.archives.gov/foia-guide.html (for a paper copy, see 36 CFR 1250.20(d)).

(g) Complex processing queue factors. We place into a complex processing queue any request that cannot be completed within 20 working days due to complexity, volume, because it contains national security information, because it involves Presidential or Vice Presidential records, or involves unusual circumstances. Unusual circumstances include the need to:

(1) Search for and collect the records from one or more field facilities;

(2) Search for, collect, and review a voluminous amount of records that are part of a single request;

(3) Consult with another Federal agency before releasing records; or

(4) Refer records to another Federal agency for declassification.

(h) Complex processing schedule. If NARA needs to extend the deadline for more than an additional 10 working days due to the complexity of a request or as a result of unusual circumstances, we ask if you wish to modify your request so that we can answer the request sooner. If you do not wish to modify your request, we work with you to arrange an alternative schedule for review and release. We will also notify you that the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) is available to provide dispute resolution services, and how to contact them.

(i) Complex processing: National security declassification and release. NARA does not have the authority to declassify and release records containing national security information without the approval of the agencies that have Original Classification Authority for the information contained in the records. We send copies of the documents to the appropriate originating Federal agencies for declassification review. We also send you an initial response to your FOIA request within 20 working days, informing you of this consultation with, or referral to, another Federal agency, except to the extent that the association with the other agency may itself be classified. Upon your request, we provide you an estimated date of completion.

(j) Complex processing: Presidential or Vice Presidential records. If you request Presidential or Vice Presidential records and we determine that the records are not subject to any applicable FOIA or Presidential Records Act (PRA) exemption (and can therefore be released), we must notify the current and former President(s) or Vice President(s) of our intention to disclose information from those records. After receiving the notice, the current and former President(s) and Vice President(s) have a period of time (as set out in the applicable Executive order on implementation of the PRA) in which to choose whether to invoke Executive Privilege to deny access to the requested information. Although we send you an initial status response to your FOIA request within 20 working days in these cases, the final response to your FOIA request will take longer. We can provide the final response only at the end of the Presidential notification period set forth in the Executive order.

[79 FR 56504, Sept. 22, 2014, as amended at 82 FR 8902, Feb. 1, 2017]

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§1250.27   How does NARA determine estimated completion dates for FOIA requests?

(a) When you ask for an estimated completion date for records that do not require consultation with another agency, we estimate the completion date on the basis of our reasonable judgment at that point as to how long it will take to complete the request. Given the uncertainty inherent in establishing any estimate, the estimated completion date may be subject to change at any time.

(b) When you ask for an estimated completion date for records that must be reviewed by another agency, our estimate is also based on information from the other agency:

(1) When we send documents for consultation to another agency, we ask the agency to provide an estimated completion date for its portion of the processing.

(2) We keep the consulting agency's estimated completion date for its portion of the processing in the request file and use it in addition to our own processing time estimate to provide you with an overall estimated completion date.

(3) If the consulted agency or agencies do not provide us with an estimated completion date, we provide you with an estimate based on our general experience working with the agency or agencies and the types and volumes of records at issue.

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§1250.28   How do I request expedited processing?

(a) NARA processes requests and appeals on an expedited basis whenever we determine that one or more of the following criteria exist:

(1) A reasonable expectation of an imminent threat to an individual's life or physical safety;

(2) A reasonable expectation of an imminent loss of a substantial due process right;

(3) An urgent need to inform the public about an actual or alleged Federal Government activity (this criterion applies only to those requests made by a person primarily engaged in disseminating information to the public); or

(4) A matter of widespread and exceptional media interest in which there exist possible questions that affect public confidence in the Government's integrity.

(b) NARA can expedite requests, or segments of requests, only for records over which we have control. If NARA must refer a request to another agency, we will inform you and suggest that you seek expedited review from that agency. NARA cannot expedite the review of classified records nor can we shorten the Presidential notification period described in 36 CFR 1250.26(j).

(c) To request expedited processing, you must submit a statement, certified to be true and correct, explaining the basis for your need for expedited processing. You must send the request to the appropriate official at the address listed in §1250.22 of this subpart. You may request expedited processing when you first request records or at any time during NARA's processing of your request or appeal.

(d) We will respond to your request for expedited processing within 10 calendar days of our receipt of your request to expedite. If we grant your request, the NARA office responsible for the review of the requested records will process your request as a priority, and it will be processed as soon as practicable. We will inform you if we deny your request for expedited processing. If you decide to appeal that denial, we will expedite our review of your appeal.

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§1250.30   How does NARA respond to my request?

(a) NARA sends you a response informing you of our release determination, including whether any responsive records were located, how much responsive material was located, whether the records have been released in full or withheld in full or in part, where you may review the records, and any fees you must pay for the request. We will use plain language in all written communications with requesters.

(b) If we deny any part of your request, our response will explain the reasons for the denial, which FOIA exemptions apply to withhold records, your right to appeal that determination, and your right to seek dispute resolution services from the FOIA Public Liaison or OGIS.

(c) NARA may withhold records in full or in part if any of the nine FOIA exemptions apply. NARA withholds information only where disclosure is prohibited by law (such as information that remains classified, or information that is specifically exempt by statute) or where we reasonably foresee that disclosure would cause harm to an interest protected by one of the FOIA exemptions. If we must withhold part of a record, we provide access to the rest of the information in the record. On the released portion of the record, we indicate the amount of information we redacted and the exemption(s) we applied, unless including that indication would harm an interest the exemption protects. NARA may also determine that a request does not reasonably describe the records sought; the information requested is not a record subject to FOIA; the requested record does not exist, cannot be located, or has been destroyed; or the requested record is not readily reproducible in the form or format you sought. Information that may be exempt from disclosure under the FOIA is:

Section of the FOIA:Reason for exemption:
5 U.S.C. 552(b)(1)“(A) specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy and (B) are in fact properly classified pursuant to such Executive order.”
5 U.S.C. 552(b)(2)“related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency.”
5 U.S.C. 552(b)(3)“specifically exempted from disclosure by statute (other than §552(b) of this title), provided that the statute:
(A) Requires that the matters be withheld from the public in such a manner as to leave no discretion on the issue; or
(B) Establishes particular criteria for withholding or refers to particular types of matters to be withheld;”
5 U.S.C. 552(b)(4)“trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person that are privileged or confidential;”
5 U.S.C. 552(b)(5)“inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency;”
5 U.S.C. 552(b)(6)“personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;”
5 U.S.C. 552(b)(7)“records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of such law enforcement records or information:
(A) could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings;
(B) would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication;
(C) could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
(D) could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source, including a State, local, or foreign agency or authority or any private institution which furnished information on a confidential basis, and, in the case of a record or information compiled by a criminal law enforcement authority in the course of a criminal investigation, or by an agency conducting lawful national security intelligence investigation, information furnished by a confidential source;
(E) would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law; or
(F) could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual;”
5 U.S.C. 552(b)(8)“contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of an agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions;” or
5 U.S.C. 552(b)(9)“geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells.”

(d) If a request involves a voluminous amount of material or searches in multiple locations, we provide you with interim responses, releasing the records on a rolling basis.

(e) NARA may not withhold Presidential records subject to FOIA under 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(5) as defined in the table in paragraph (c) of this section. However, NARA may withhold Presidential records under the remaining FOIA exemptions. In addition, Presidential records may be withheld under the six PRA restrictions for a period of 12 years from when a President leaves office, in accordance with 44 U.S.C. 2204 and 36 CFR part 1270. Representatives of the current and former Presidents may also review Presidential records, and may assert constitutionally-based privileges that would prevent NARA from releasing some or all or the information requested.

[79 FR 56504, Sept. 22, 2014, as amended at 82 FR 8902, Feb. 1, 2017]

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§1250.32   How may I request assistance with the FOIA process?

(a) For assistance at any point in the FOIA process, you may contact the NARA FOIA Public Liaison. That individual is responsible for assisting you to reduce delays, increase transparency and understanding of the status of requests, and resolve any FOIA disputes. You can find a list of our FOIA Public Liaisons at http://www.archives.gov/foia/contacts.html.

(b) The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), part of NARA, serves as the Federal FOIA Ombudsman and assists requesters and agencies to prevent and resolve FOIA disputes. OGIS also reviews agencies' FOIA policies, procedures, and compliance. You may contact OGIS using the information provided below in 36 CFR 1250.74(c).

[79 FR 56504, Sept. 22, 2014, as amended at 82 FR 8902, Feb. 1, 2017]

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§1250.38   In what format does NARA provide copies?

After all applicable fees are paid, we provide you copies of records in the format you request if the records already exist in that format, or if they are readily reproducible in the format you request.

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