Sometimes government contractors under 5 USC 552 seek to get information via a Freedom of Information Act request, commonly referred to as a FOIA request, to find out information about a specific procurement or another contractor.
Before you submit a FOIA request, you may want to find out if the information is already available to the public. Government agencies often have a wealth of information on the websites. However, you must consider the detail and the amount of information you want to get.
No sensitive information: When a FOIA request is based upon a federal government contract, you should be aware that your right to information does not mean the agency has to provide sensitive source selection information. The government may also withhold information that is proprietary to the party you seek to find out the information.
In other situations, the general public uses a FOIA request for information to get information from federal or state agencies for other reasons. Without the proper professional help, companies can waste a substantial amount of resources only to get a rejection from the government agency.
When submitting a FOAI request under 5 USC 552, you must be aware of the various limitations to your right to information under the FOIA Act.
- Look to see if the information you want is already publically available
- Be aware that the agency does not have to give you all types of information under FOIA
Format Information Under 5 USC 552 FOIA Request
The public can submit a FOIA request for any agency record. Under 5 USC 552, applicants can request information in a specific format (for example, printed or electronic form).
Under the Freedom of Information Act, the agency does not have to conduct separate research to get you the information you seek; they also do not have to go the extra mile to separately analyze data or compile answers to your request for information.
5 USC 552 (b) – – FOIA Exemptions
Under 5 USC 552 (b) (1)-(9), the Freedom of Information Act has the following FOIA exemptions that prevent the public from gaining access to certain types of information. When submitting a FOIA request, be mindful of the following exemptions.
- Those documents properly classified as secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy;
- Related solely to internal personnel rules and practices;
- Specifically exempted by other statutes;
- A trade secret or privileged or confidential commercial or financial information obtained from a person;
- A privileged inter-agency or intra-agency memorandum or letter;
- A personnel, medical, or similar file the release of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
- Compiled for law enforcement purposes, the release of which
- could reasonably be expected to interfere with law enforcement proceedings,
- would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication,
- could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,
- could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source,
- would disclose techniques, procedures, or guidelines for investigations or prosecutions, or
- could reasonably be expected to endanger an individual’s life or physical safety;
- Contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports about financial institutions that the SEC regulates or supervises; or
- And those documents containing exempt information about gas or oil wells.
For professional guidance in submitting a Freedom of Information Act request and FOIA exemptions, call our government attorneys at 1-866-601-5518.