32 CFR 286.2 - DoD public information.
(a) Public information.
(1) The public has a right to information concerning the activities of its Government. DoD policy is to conduct its activities in an open manner and provide the public with a maximum amount of accurate and timely information concerning its activities, consistent always with the legitimate public and private interests of the American people. A record requested by a member of the public who follows rules established by proper authority in the Department of Defense shall not be withheld in whole or in part unless the record is exempt from mandatory partial or total disclosure under the FOIA. As a matter of policy, DoD Components shall make discretionary disclosures of exempt records or information whenever disclosure would not foreseeably harm an interest protected by a FOIA exemption, but this policy does not create any right enforceable in court. In order that the public may have timely information concerning DoD activities, records requested through public information channels by news media representatives that would not be withheld if requested under the FOIA should be released upon request. Prompt responses to requests for information from news media representatives should be encouraged to eliminate the need for these requesters to invoke the provisions of the FOIA and thereby assist in providing timely information to the public. Similarly, requests from other members of the public for information that would not be withheld under the FOIA should continue to be honored through appropriate means without requiring the requester to involve the FOIA.
(2) Within the OSD, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence, as Chief Information Officer, in conjunction with the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, is responsible for ensuring preparation of reference material or a guide for requesting records or information from the Department of Defense, subject to the nine exemptions of the FOIA. This publication shall also include an index of all major information systems, and a description of major information and record locator systems, as defined by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence. DoD FOIA Components shall coordinate with the appropriate office(s) to insure that this is also accomplished within their department or organization.
(3) DoD Components shall also prepare, in addition to normal FOIA regulations, a handbook for the use of the public in obtaining information from their organization. This handbook should be a short, simple explanation to the public of what the FOIA is designed to do, and how a member of the public can use it to access government records. Each DoD Component should explain the types of records that can be obtained through FOIA requests, why some records cannot, by law, be made available, and how the DoD Component determines whether the record can be released. The handbook should also explain how to make a FOIA request, how long the requester can expect to wait for a reply, and explain the right of appeal. The handbook should supplement other information locator systems, such as the Government Information Locator Service (GILS), and explain how a requester can obtain more information about those systems. The handbook should be available on paper and through electronic means and contain the following additional information, complete with electronic links to the below elements; the location of reading room(s) within the Component and the types and categories of information available, the location of Component's World Wide Web page, a reference to the component's FOIA regulation and how to obtain a copy, a reference to the Component's FOIA annual report and how to obtain a copy and the location of the Component's GILS page. Also, the DoD Components' Freedom of Information Act Annual Reports should refer to the handbook and how to obtain it.
(b) Control system. A request for records that invokes the FOIA shall enter a formal control system designed to ensure accountability and compliance with the FOIA. Any request for DoD records that either explicitly or implicitly cites the FOIA shall be processed under the provisions of this part, unless otherwise required by § 286.4(m).