Freedom of Information Act Guide
The purpose of this overview is to answer some frequently asked questions about the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). For further information on how FOIA is implemented at the National Endowment for the Arts, please see 45 C.F.R. § 1100.
What is The Freedom of Information Act?
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was established in 1966 for the purpose of allowing private citizens greater access to government information.
FOIA sets standards for determining which records must be disclosed and which records may be withheld. A list of FOIA exemptions determines which categories of information the agency may withhold. However, FOIA also provides administrative and judicial remedies for those who are denied their request. Most importantly, FOIA requires all federal agencies to provide you with the fullest possible disclosure of information. It is our desire to assist you in obtaining this information.
On January 21, 2009, President Barack Obama signed two memoranda to executive departments and agencies concerning 1.) the Freedom of Information Act and 2.) Transparency and Open Government. Among the principles established are:
What is the Privacy Act?
The Privacy Act of 1974 is a companion to FOIA. It allows individuals access to federal agency records about themselves. For more information about the Privacy Act, please click here.
How do I make a FOIA request?
You can fax, write, or email:
To view a sample FOIA request, please click here.
What information can I get through FOIA?
Are there documents I can access without a FOIA request?
What types of records can be requested from the NEA through FOIA?
Does FOIA allow access to all NEA Records?
No. FOIA provides nine specific exemptions that allow certain records to be withheld in full or in part. Please see additional information on these exemptions.
Are there fees involved in requesting documents?
Depending upon the type of request, certain types of fees may be charged. Please see the fee schedule for additional information.
How long will I have to wait to receive the information I've requested?
Once the NEA receives a FOIA request, it has 20 business days to respond.
What are the common reasons for delay?
Can my request be expedited?
Yes, under certain conditions. You must demonstrate a compelling need for a quicker response. A compelling need can be demonstrated by showing either:
If a delay in the response to your request would compromise a significant and recognized public interest, the expedition requirement would be satisfied. However, a general assertion of "the public's right to know" will not be sufficient to expedite a request.
What can I do if my FOIA request is denied?
If your FOIA request is denied, you have the right to appeal the denial to the head of the agency.
What can I appeal?
How do I file a FOIA appeal?
Appealing to the head of an administrative agency under FOIA is a simple process. You do not need a lawyer to help you write an appeal. Your letter should identify what you are appealing and why you disagree with the agency's decision to withhold information. You should be as complete as possible. There is no charge for filing an administrative appeal.
Can I keep the NEA from releasing information about me to someone else?
This situation is called a "reverse FOIA." A reverse FOIA is when someone petitions or sues the agency to prevent it from releasing specific information. Unless the petitioner can show that the information in question is protected by a FOIA exemption, or would cause specific and serious harm if released, the agency may choose whether or not to release the information.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency