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FOIA Reference Guide

What is the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. Section 552 is a federal law established in 1966 to give private citizens greater access to government information. It requires that federal agencies disclose the fullest possible amount of information to the public, subject to certain exemptions.

President’s Memorandum, Freedom of Information Act, Federal Register Notice / Vol. 74, No. 15 / Monday, January 26, 2009

Attorney General’s Memorandum, Freedom of Information Act, March 19, 2009

What is the Privacy Act?

The Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. Section 552a is a companion to FOIA. It allows individuals access to federal agency records about themselves. It requires that personal information in agency files be accurate, complete, relevant, and timely. Additionally, each agency must publish a description of each system of records maintained by the agency that contain personal information.

Can I access agency records without filing a FOIA request?

Yes. Many NCD publications and correspondence are available to the public without the need to make a formal FOIA request. A great deal of this information is readily accessible on this website. For example, NCD Bylaws, Performance and Results Act Reports; Congressional Budget Justification Reports; Financial Audit Reports; Testimony and Speeches and NCD strategic plan are a few examples of agency records found available on our website.

How do I make a FOIA request?

You can write or email:

FOIA Officer National Council on Disability 1331 F Street, NW, Suite 850 Washington, DC 20004 email:

It is important to include the following information in your request, so that we may answer your request in a timely manner:

  • A statement that you are requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
  • A clear and specific description of the information you are requesting. If possible, identify dates, subjects, titles, or authors of the documents requested.
  • An explanation of what the information will be used for (i.e. scholarly purpose, commercial use, personal use). This will help us determine what fees, if any, to charge you for the information.
  • If you are requesting a waiver of fees, please state why you believe you are entitled to the waiver.
  • Your contact information, including name, address, phone and email.

What charges apply to process FOIA requests?

FOIA provisions allow us to recover part of the cost of complying with your request.

  • Fees are assessed in accordance with the National Council on Disability FOIA regulations based on three categories of requestors:
  • Commercial requesters—charged for search time, document review, and duplication
  • Noncommercial requester- News media, educational, and scientific requesters—charged for duplication only after the first 100 pages
  • All other requesters—charged for search time (after two hours) and duplication (after the first 100 pages)

A detailed fee breakdown can be found in NCD’s Freedom of Information Act, Privacy Act and Government in the Sunshine Act at 80 FR 49117

How quickly will you respond to my request?

NCD makes every effort to respond to your request as quickly as possible. The law requires that federal agencies respond to you within 20 days of the receipt of the request, excluding weekends and holidays. Especially complex or voluminous requests may need additional time. If your request cannot be answered within the twenty day period, you will be contacted to either narrow your request to allow for a timelier response, or to accept a delay in delivery.

What can I do if I disagree with a FOIA determination?

You may seek dispute resolution services from the FOIA Public Liaison at NCD or the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS).

National Archives and Records Administration Office of Government Information Services 8601 and Delphi Road-OGIS College Park, MD 20740-6001 202-741-5770

Should you wish to appeal, you must send your appeal and a copy of your FOIA request letter in writing within 90 days of the date by email or letter to: or to the subsequent address:

Executive Director National Council on Disability 1331 F St. NW., Suite 850 Washington, DC 20004

Your envelope and letter should be marked “FOIA Appeal” and reference the request number.

FOIA Officers, FOIA Request Service Centers, and Public Liaisons

In response to the President’s Executive Order 13,392 of December 14, 2005 “Improving Agency Disclosure of Information,” the National Council on Disability (NCD) designates the following:


Joan Durocher 202-272-2117


Amy Nicholas 202-272-2008


Amy Nicholas 202-272-2008


Amy Nicholas 202-272-2008

An official website of the National Council on Disability