32 CFR 295.7 - Procedures.
(a) General. The provisions of the FOIA are reserved for persons with private interests as opposed to Federal governmental agencies seeking official information. The procedures for making requests, whether as a private party or governmental representative, are set forth below.
(b) Requests From Private Parties.
(1) Members of the public may make requests in writing for copies of records, or permission to examine or copy records, directly to the FOIA/PA Division addressed to: Assistant Director, FOIA/PA Division, OAIG for Investigations, 400 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, VA 22202-2884.
(2) Requests must identify each record sought with sufficient specificity to enable the custodian to locate the record with a reasonable amount of effort. Requesters should provide such information as where the record originated and by whom, its subject matter, its approximate date or timeframe, which element of the OIG is likely to have custodianship, or any other similar information that would assist in locating the record. Requests must also contain a statement regarding willingness to pay fees.
(3) A request from an individual who made an allegation of wrongdoing to the IG, or any protected disclosure under the “Whistleblower Protection Acts,” and who is seeking the results of any investigation or inquiry conducted into the allegation, should identify him/herself as the “Whistleblower” in the request. The request should indicate whether he/she wishes to continue anonymity, should be notarized to avoid the risk of losing the anonymity, and should contain a statement regarding willingness to pay fees.
(4) A request for a personal record or investigative record pertaining to the individual making the request, that is in a system of records whether nonexempt or exempted from mandatory release under the Privacy Act, must be notarized to avoid the risk of invasion of personal privacy. In any such request, the individual may designate another individual to act as his/her representative in making the request and in receiving the records on his/her behalf; however, the authorization must be in writing, specifically name the representative and kinds of records authorized to be provided, and be notarized to avoid the risk of invasion of personal privacy.
(5) A request for a record that was obtained from a non-U.S. Government source, and that is subject to exemption (b)(4) under the FOIA, will be released to the individual or firm making the request without further exception, if:
(i) The individual or firm is clearly the submitter of the information and/or is clearly acting on behalf of the submitter in making the request.
(ii) The request contains a statement from a company official or other representative of the submitter clearly capable of certifying that the requester is acting on behalf of the submitter of the information in making the request; i.e., a Vice-President certifies on his/her company letterhead that XYZ Law Firm is acting on behalf of the company in requesting copies of documents submitted to the government by the company. A mere assertion by the requester that the requester is acting on behalf of the submitter in making the request will not be honored, if it cannot be readily verified through records available to the OIG.
(c) Requests From Government Officials.
(1) Requests from officials of State, or local Governments for OIG records will be considered the same as any other requester, except where the request is for a personal record in a system of records subject to the Privacy Act, in which case the provisions of DoD 5400.11-R (32 CFR part 286a) apply.
(2) Requests from members of Congress, or their staffs, not seeking records on behalf of a Congressional Committee, Subcommittee, or either House sitting as a whole, will be considered the same as any other requester. Requests from members of Congress, or their staffs, made on behalf of their constituents will also be considered the same as any other requester.
(3) Requests from officials of foreign governments shall be considered the same as any other requester. Requests from officials of foreign governments that do not invoke the FOIA shall be referred to appropriate foreign disclosure channels and the requester so notified.
(d) Misdirected Requests. Requests misdirected to other OIG elements will be forwarded promptly to the FOIA/PA Division. The statutory period allowed for response to a request misdirected by the requester shall not begin until the request is received in the FOIA/PA Division. The OIG components and field elements receiving misdirected requests should advise the requester that the request is being forwarded to the office having the authority to act on and respond to the request.
(e) Privileged Release to Officials.
(1) Subject to DoD 5200.1-R, 4 “Information Security Program Regulation”, applicable to classified information, DoD Directive 5400.11 (32 CFR part 286a), applicable to personal privacy or other applicable law, records exempt from release under appendix B of this part may be authenticated and released, without requiring release to other FOIA requesters, in accordance with OIG rules to U.S. Government officials requesting them on behalf of Federal governmental bodies, whether legislative, executive, administrative, or judicial, as follows:
4 Copies may be obtained, at cost, from the National Technical Information Service, 5285 Port Royal Road, Springfield, VA 22161.
(i) To a Committee or Subcommittee of Congress, or to either House sitting as a whole in accordance with DoD Directive 5400.4, 5 “Provision of Information to Congress,” and this part.
5 See footnote 4 to § 295.7(e).
(ii) To the Federal courts whenever ordered by officers of the court as necessary for the proper administration of justice
(iii) To other Federal agencies both executive and administrative as determined by the IG or the IG's designee.
(2) On all such releases, the officials receiving records under the above provisions will be informed in writing that the records are exempt from public release under the FOIA and are privileged. The OIG components will also advise the receiving officials of any special handling instructions.
(f) Processing Requests.
(1) Upon receipt in the FOIA/PA Division, a request for records will be assigned a control number, logged, and reviewed for adequacy and compliance with the procedures for submitting requests outlined in § 295.7(b).
(2) If the request does not meet the adequacy of description test, contain a statement regarding fees, or contain a notarized signature/authorization or a certification of submitter representation, if applicable; the request will be acknowledged as having been received and the requester will be notified of the defect and advised of the means necessary to correct the defect and comply with the procedures. If the requester does not correct the defect within the time allowed (generally 30 calendar days) in the defect notice, the following actions will be taken:
(i) Where the request does not meet the adequacy of description test, the request will be administratively closed and the requester so advised.
(ii) Where the request meets the adequacy of description test but fails to comply with the remaining procedural requirements, and the time allowed in the defect notice for compliance by the requester has elapsed, the request will be processed to the extent possible consistent with DoD 5400.7-R (32 CFR part 286) and this part.
(3) When it is determined that a request complies with all applicable procedures, the necessary search and collection of responsive records will be initiated through the Component(s) of the OIG likely to have custodianship of the sought records.
(4) Where the appropriate OIG Component has determined that no record responsive to the request exists, the POC for the OIG Component will so advise the FOIA/PA Division within the due date assigned to the POC. The requester will be notified in writing by the IDA, within 10 working days from the date of receipt of the request, that no responsive records exist; and, of the right and means by which to appeal the no record response as an adverse determination.
(5) When it is determined that the records sought are part of an ongoing audit, inspection, or investigation, the requester will be advised of such (subject to the “Exclusions” under the FOIA identified in appendix B, of this part). The requester will be informed of the estimated timeframe for completion of the ongoing audit, inspection, or investigation and asked if he/she wishes to withdraw the request and resubmit it upon completion of the ongoing process. If the requester chooses not to withdraw the request, the processing will be continued and an appropriate release determination will be made, consistent with the statutory provisions of the FOIA.
(6) When responsive records have been located, the POC for the OIG element having the records will forward the records to the FOIA/PA Division with a recommendation for release on SD Form 472, “Request Information Sheet,” along with a completed DD Form 2086. “Record of Freedom of Information (FOI) Processing Cost.” The records will be reviewed and an initial determination to release or deny will be made.
(g) Initial Determinations.
(1) The initial determination of whether to make a record available upon request may be made only by the IDAs designated by the IG in this part. Further, the number of IDAs designated by the IG will be limited and based on a balance of the goals of centralization of authority to promote uniform decisions and decentralization to facilitate responding to each request within the time limitations of the FOIA.
(2) Other than statutory denials, there are six other reasons for not complying with a request for a record:
(i) The request is transferred to another DoD Component or Federal agency.
(ii) The request is withdrawn by the requester.
(iii) The information requested is not a record within the meaning of the FOIA and § 295.3(a) of this part.
(iv) A record has not been described with sufficient particularity to enable those that OIG to locate it by conducting a reasonable search.
(v) The requester has failed unreasonably to comply with the procedural requirements, including the payment of fees, imposed by 32 CFR part 286 and this part.
(vi) The OIG has determined through knowledge of its files and reasonable search efforts that it neither controls nor possesses the requested record.
(3) Initial determinations to release or deny a record normally will be made and the decision reported to the requester within 10 working days, provided that the requester has complied with the preliminary procedural requirements.
(4) When requests are denied in whole in part, the requester will be informed in writing of the reasons for the denial, the identity of the official making the denial, the right of appeal of the decision, and the identity and address of the official to whom an appeal may be made.
(5) The explanation of the substantive basis for a denial will include specific citation of the statutory exemption applied under provisions of the FOIA. Mere reference to a classification or to a “For Official Use Only” marking will not constitute a basis for invoking an exemption. When the initial denial is based in whole or in part on a security classification, the explanation will include a summary of the applicable criteria for the classification.
(h) Denial Tests.
(1) To deny a requested record that is in the possession and control of the OIG, it must be determined that the record is included in one or more of the nine categories of records exempt from mandatory disclosure as provided by the FOIA and outlined in chapter III of DoD 5400.7-R (32 CFR part 286), and this part. No OIG record may be otherwise withheld from the public, whether in whole or in part, except as determined by the designated IDAs in accordance with FOIA exemptions.
(2) Although portions of some records may be denied, the remaining reasonably segregable portions will be released to the requester when it can be assumed that a skillful and knowledgeable person could not reconstruct the excised information. When a record is denied in whole, the IDA will advise the requester of that determination.
(i) Extension of Time.
(1) In unusual circumstances, responsive records may be located by the office having custodianship over the record, but the records can not be made immediately available to the FOIA/PA Division, or the FOIA/PA Division can not make them immediately available to the requester. The unusual circumstances justifying the delay will be the result of the following:
(i) The requested record is located in whole or in part at another geographic location than that of the FOIA/PA Division.
(ii) The request requires the collection and/or evaluation of a substantial number of records.
(iii) Consultation is required with other DoD Components or agencies having substantial interest in the subject matter to determine whether the records requested are exempt from disclosure in whole or in part under provisions of the FOIA and this part or should be released as a matter of discretion.
(2) In any such event, efforts will be made to negotiate an informal extension in time with the requester by the FOIA/PA Division. If the requester chooses not to agree informally to an extension in time, a written explanation of the reasons for delay will be provided to the requester and the requester will be asked to await a substantive response by an anticipated date.
(j) Fee Assessments.
(1) When it is determined that the fees assessable to a request undergoing final processing may exceed the limit established by the requester, or may be in excess of $250, the processing will be discontinued and the requester notified so that he/she may advise of his/her desire to continue.
(2) If a “good faith” deposit is required, the requester will be allowed a reasonable time (generally 30 calendar days) in which to provide payment. If the requester fails to provide the “good faith” deposit within the time allowed, the request will be closed and the requester so notified.
(3) In all other cases, the requester will be notified of any fees due at the time the requested records are provided to the requester, and allowed a reasonable time (generally 30 calendar days) in which to pay the fees.
(4) If the requester fails to pay the fees in the time allowed, a notice of nonpayment will be placed in the formal control system and no further FOIA requests from the requester will be honored until the fees have been paid.
(k) Records on Non-U.S. Government Sources.
(1) When it is determined that the records or data contained within the records responsive to a request were obtained from a non-U.S. Government source by the OIG, and the requester is not the submitter of the non-U.S. Government record nor acting as the submitter's representative; and it is further determined the source or submitter may have a valid objection to release of the material, the submitter will be promptly notified of the request and afforded a reasonable time (generally 30 calendar days) to present any objections to the release.
(2) This procedure is required for those FOIA requests for data not deemed clearly exempt from disclosure under exemption (b)(4). If, for example, the record or data was submitted by the non-U.S. Government source with the actual or presumptive knowledge of the source, and established that it would be made available to the public upon request, there is no requirement to notify the source.
(3) All objections will be evaluated. When a substantial issue has been raised, the OIG may seek additional information and afford the source and requester reasonable opportunities to present their arguments on the legal and substantive issues involved prior to making a determination.
(4) The OIG will not ordinarily exercise its discretionary authority to release information clearly meeting the exemption (b)(4) criteria. Further, the final decision to disclose information not deemed to clearly meet exemption (b)(4) criteria will be made by an official equivalent in rank or greater to the official who would make the decision to withhold that data under a FOIA appeal.
(5) When the source or submitter advises of the intent to seek a restraining order or to take court action to prevent release of the data, the requester will be notified and action will not be taken on the request until after the outcome of the court action is known. When the requester brings court action to compel disclosure, the source shall be promptly notified of this action.
(6) These procedures also apply to any non-U.S. Government record in the possession and control of the OIG from multi-national organizations, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), or foreign governments. Coordination of such FOIA requests with foreign governments will be made through the Department of State by the FOIA/PA Division.
(l) Coordination With Department of Justice.
(1) Where the custodian of an OIG element determines that records responsive to a FOIA request are pertinent to pending or potential litigation involving the United States, the FOIA/PA POC for the element shall promptly notify the FOIA/PA Division so that the necessary coordination can be effected with the Office of General Counsel (OGC) representative to the IG.
(2) The OGC representative shall effect all necessary coordination with the United States Attorney and/or Department of Justice prior to any release of such records.
(m) Procedures for Appeals.
(1) A requester may appeal the initial decision to deny access to requested records, in writing, to the designated OIG Appellate Authority. The requester may also appeal a no record determination, any fees assessed and the denial of a request for waiver/reduction of fees. All such appeals should be made no later than 60 calendar days after the date of the initial denial letter or letter of advisement regarding fees.
(2) All appeals should provide sufficient information and justification upon which a determination may be made by the Appellate Authority as to whether to grant or deny the appeal; or, in the event of a “no record determination” sufficient information and/or justification upon which additional record searches may be based. A copy of the initial request and initial denial, and “no record” or fee advisement letter should be included.
(3) The FOIA/PA Division administers the appeals for the Appellate Authority. All appeals should be addressed to the Assistant Director, FOIA/PA Division, OAIG for investigations, 400 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, VA 22202-2884.
(4) Upon receipt in the FOIA/PA Division, the appeal will be assigned a control number, logged, and prepared for provision to the Appellate Authority for a final determination. Receipt will be acknowledged in writing within 10 working days and the requester advised of any additional time needed due to the unusual circumstances described in § 295.7(i) of this part.
(5) If additional time is required, the final decision may be delayed for the number of working days (not to exceed 10) that were not used as additional time for responding to the initial request. If no additional time is required, the requester will be advised in writing of the final decision within 20 working days.
(6) If the appeal is approved in part or in whole, or responsive records located upon additional search, the requester will be informed and promptly provided any records determined to be releasable.
(7) If “no records” can be located in response to the appeal, the requester will be informed that no records were located, of the identity of the official making the final determination, and of the right to judicial review.
(8) If the appeal of the initial denial of responsive records is denied in part or in whole, the requester will be advised of the applicable statutory exemption or exemptions invoked under the provisions of the FOIA for the denial, the identity of the official making the final determination, that meaningful portions of any denied records were not reasonably segregable, and of the right to judicial review.
(9) When the final refusal is based in whole or in part on a security classification, the explanation shall include a determination that the record meets the cited criteria and rationale of the governing Executive Order, and that this determination is based on a declassification review, with an explanation of how that review confirmed the continuing validity of the security classification.
(10) Final refusal involving issues not previously resolved or that the OIG knows to be inconsistent with rulings of other DoD components ordinarily will not be made before consultation with the Assistant General Counsel (Fiscal and Inspector General), OGC, DoD.
(11) Tentative decisions to deny records that raise new or significant legal issues of potential significance to other agencies of the Government shall be provided to the Department of Justice, Attn: Office of Legal Policy, Office of Information and Policy, Washington, DC 20530 after coordination with the Assistant General Counsel (Fiscal and Inspector General), OGC, DoD.