What is FOIA?
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is found in 5 U.S.C. Section 552, as amended, and the EPA regulations for implementing the FOIA are found in Title 40, Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter 1, Part 2. The Act was signed into law on July 4, 1966, by President Lyndon Johnson. The law is based on the presumption that the government and government information belongs to the people. Since FOIA became Public Law 89-487, the Act has undergone changes, notably in 1974 and again in 1976 when changes were made in response to a Supreme Court decision. There have been several attempts in recent years to change the language of the Act to reflect changes in technology and the Federal Government's increasing reliance on computers for records creation, dissemination, and storage. However, none of these proposed changes have become law.
The FOIA Act allows the public to request copies of records in the possession of federal agencies. The requested records are released unless the record falls into one of the nine exemptions set forth under the Act (e.g., personal privacy, confidential business information, etc.). However, EPA is required to provide the fullest possible disclosure of information to the public.
According to federal regulations, requests for records to the Office of Research and Development in Las Vegas must be submitted in writing to the Freedom of Information Officer. Any request submitted to any other program office is considered "misdirected" and may result in a delayed reply. EPA is allowed to charge fees to requesters in order to recover the direct costs of search, duplication, and review of requested records. (For more information on fees, please send your questions to ORD-LV-FOIA.) However, if the total cost of the requested information is less than $25, the fees are waived.