Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) / Privacy Act (PA) Office

What is the FOIA?

The FOIA is a Federal law that establishes the public's right to request existing records from Federal government agencies . The FOIA is known by its legal cite as 5 U.S.C. § 552.  The FOIA provides that any person has a right, enforceable in court, to obtain access to federal agency records, except to the extent that such records (or portions of them) are protected from public disclosure by one of nine exemptions or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions. The FOIA thus established a statutory right of public access to Executive Branch information in the Federal Government.

The United States Supreme Court has explained that “the basic purpose of [the] FOIA is to ensure an informed citizenry, vital to the functioning of a democratic society.  At the same time, the Supreme Court has also recognized that in enacting the FOIA, "Congress sought 'to reach a workable balance between the right of the public to know and the need of the Government'" to protect certain information from public disclosure.


Please note:

- The FOIA is NOT an investigative arm of the Federal Government, nor can it respond to a requester’s questions about specific records.

-Responsive records, such as law enforcement reports, are not maintained within the FOIA/PA Office.

-Records, if found, may not necessarily be releasable under one or more of the FOIA/PA act’s exemptions.


How do I file a FOIA request for Fort Irwin records ?

All FOIA requests must be submitted in writing: (via letter or email). Address the request to the Fort Irwin FOIA Office.  State your willingness to pay applicable fees. If you seek a fee waiver, provide a justification for such a waiver. Describe the specific records you are requesting in enough detail so that they can be located with a reasonable amount of effort. Generally, a record is reasonably described when the description contains sufficient file-related information (type of document, title, subject area, date of creation, originator, etc.); or the request contains enough event-related information (date and circumstances surrounding the event the record covers) to permit the conduct of an organized, non-random search.     Note: A sample request letter (doc | 24 KB) can be found here.


Who may file a FOIA request?

Any "person" can file a FOIA request, including U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, organizations, universities, businesses, and state and local governments.


How long will it take for my request to be processed?

This is a difficult question to answer because of the size of Fort Irwin and its many organizations and offices. In fairness to all requesters, requests are processed in order by date of receipt and according to their complexity. We have a multi-track system where requests are either labeled as Simple, Complex or Expedited. Whenever possible, an initial determination to release or deny a record is made within 20 working days after receipt of the request by the official who is designated to respond. However, due to the hundreds of requests received annually, the FOIA/PA Office is unable to answer all of them within the statute's time requirements. Therefore, requests will have to wait their turn in the FOIA queuing tracks.