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Processing FOIA Requests

When processing a FOIA request, review records with a presumption of openness toward determining what can be disclosed, rather than what can be withheld.  When full disclosure of a record is not possible, consider making a partial disclosure. Whether a release involves boxes of material, or only a few pages, it is important to remember that the increased transparency resulting from even a partial disclosure of records is worthwhile.


Practical Tips 

    1. Employees should remember that the presumption of disclosure applies to all FOIA decisions. 

    2. Employees should approach their review of documents by asking, "What can I release?"

    3. Records should not be withheld merely because they fall within an exemption.

    4. Employees should review each document with a focus on whether there is foreseeable harm if the record is disclosed.

    5. Employees should make determinations of foreseeable harm on a case-by-case basis, considering the age of the document and the sensitivity of its contents.

    6. Employees should make discretionary releases of records whenever possible.

    7. Employees should strive to make a partial disclosure when full disclosure of a record is not possible.

    8. The public’s interest in records should be anticipated so that the Agency can proactively identify, retrieve and post them on its Web sites.

    9. Employees should work cooperatively with requesters and respond promptly.

    10. Employees should consult with the Agency’s National FOIA Office and the Office of General Counsel/Office of Regional Counsel for assistance.


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