32 CFR 518.6 - Public information.
(a) Public information. The public has a right to information concerning the activities of its Government. Army 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 DA 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, Army activities shall make discretionary disclosures of exempt records or information only after full and deliberate consideration of the institutional, commercial, and personal privacy interests that could be implicated by disclosure of the information. Activities must be prepared to present a sound legal basis in support of their determinations. In order that the public may have timely information concerning Army 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 invoke the FOIA.
(b) FOIA handbook. The Department of the Army Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act (DA FOIA/PA) Office shall prepare, in addition to FOIA regulations, a handbook for the use of the public in obtaining information from its organizations. This handbook will be a short, simple explanation of what the FOIA is designed to do, and how a member of the public can use it to access government records. The DA FOIA/PA Office handbook will explain the types of records that can be obtained through FOIA requests, why some records cannot, by law, be made available, and how the Army activity determines whether or not the record can be released. The handbook will also explain how to make a FOIA request, how long the requester can expect to wait for a reply, and appeal rights. The handbook will 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 will 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 and the types and categories of information available; the location of the World Wide Web page; a reference to the Army FOIA regulation and how to obtain a copy; a reference to the Army FOIA annual report and how to obtain a copy; and the location of the GILS page. The DA FOIA handbook, “A Citizen's Guide to Request Army Records Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA),” can be accessed on-line at http://www.rmda.belvoir.army.mil/. “The Major Automated Information Systems Descriptions” can be accessed at http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/foi.
(c) 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 Army records that either explicitly or implicitly cites the FOIA shall be processed under the provisions of this part, unless otherwise required.