32 CFR 518.7 - FOIA terms defined.
(a) FOIA request. A written request for Army records that reasonably describes the record(s) sought, made by any person, including a member of the public (U.S. or foreign citizen/entity), an organization, or a business, but not including a Federal Agency or a fugitive from the law, that either explicitly or implicitly invokes the FOIA, DoDD 5400.7, DoD 5400.7-R, this part, or Army Activity supplementing regulations or instructions. All requesters should also indicate a willingness to pay fees associated with the processing of their request. Requesters may ask for a waiver of fees, but should also express a willingness to pay fees in the event of a waiver denial. Written requests may be received by postal service or other commercial delivery means, by facsimile, or electronically (such as e-mail). Requests received by facsimile or electronically must have a postal mailing address included since it may not be practical to provide a substantive response electronically. The request is considered properly received, or perfected, when the conditions in this paragraph have been met and the request arrives at the FOIA office of the Activity in possession of the records.
(b) Agency record. The products of data compilation, such as all books, papers, maps, photographs, and machine readable materials, inclusive of those in electronic form or format, or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by an agency of the United States Government under Federal law in connection with the transaction of public business and in DA possession and control at the time the FOIA request is made.
(1) The following are not included within the definition of the word “record”: Objects or articles, such as structures, furniture, vehicles and equipment, whatever their historical value, or value as evidence; Anything that is not a tangible or documentary record, such as an individual's memory or oral communication; Personal records of an individual not subject to agency creation or retention requirements, created and maintained primarily for the convenience of an agency employee, and not distributed to other agency employees for their official use. Personal papers fall into three categories: Those created before entering Government service; private materials brought into, created, or received in the office that were not created or received in the course of transacting Government business; and work-related personal papers that are not used in the transaction of Government business in accordance with Public Law 86-36, National Security Information Exemption.
(2) A record must exist and be in the possession and control of DA at the time of the request to be considered subject to this part and the FOIA. There is no obligation to create or compile a record to satisfy a FOIA request.
(3) Hard copy or electronic records that are subject to FOIA requests under 5 U.S.C. 552 (a)(3), and that are available to the public through an established distribution system such as the Government Printing Office (GPO), Federal Register, National Technical Information Service (NTIS), or the Internet, normally need not be processed under the provisions of the FOIA. If a request is received for such information, Army Activities shall provide the requester with guidance, inclusive of any written notice to the public, on how to obtain the information. However, if the requester insists that the request be processed under the FOIA, then the request shall be processed under the FOIA. If there is any doubt as to whether the request must be processed, contact DA, FOIA/PA Office.
(d) Initial denial authority (IDA). An official who has been granted authority by the Secretary of the Army to deny records requested under the FOIA based on one or more of the nine categories of exemptions from mandatory disclosure. An IDA also: Denies a fee category claim by a requester; denies a request for expedited processing due to demonstrated compelling need; denies a request for a waiver or reduction of fees; reviews a fee estimate; and confirms that no records were located in response to a request.
(e) Appellate authority. The Secretary of the Army or designee having jurisdiction for this purpose over the record, or any of the other adverse determinations. The DA appellate authority is the Office of the Army General Counsel (OGC).
(f) Administrative appeal. A request by a member of the general public, made under the FOIA, asking the appellate authority of the Army to reverse a decision to: Withhold all or part of a requested record; deny a fee category claim by a requester; deny a request for expedited processing due to demonstrated compelling need; deny a request for waiver or reduction of fees; deny a request to review an initial fee estimate; and confirm that no records were located during the initial search. Requesters also may appeal the failure to receive a response determination within the statutory time limits, a fee estimate, and any determination that the requester believes is adverse in nature.
(g) Public interest. The interest in obtaining official information that sheds light on an activity's performance of its statutory duties because the information falls within the statutory purpose of the FOIA to inform citizens about what their Government is doing. That statutory purpose, however, is not fostered by disclosure of information about private citizens accumulated in various governmental files that reveals nothing about an agency's or official's own conduct.
(h) Electronic record. Records (including e-mail) that are created, stored, and retrievable by electronic means.
(i) Federal agency. As defined by 5 U.S.C. 552 (f)(1), a Federal agency is any executive department, military department, Government corporation, Government controlled corporation, or other establishment in the executive branch of the Government (including the Executive Office of the President), or any independent regulatory agency.
(j) Law enforcement investigation. An investigation conducted by a command or activity for law enforcement purposes relating to crime, waste, fraud or national security. Such investigations may include gathering evidence for criminal prosecutions and for civil or regulatory proceedings.