Buffalo District Header Image

Home
Home > About > FOIA

Freedom of Information Act

FOIA Requests

To assist you with your request, we have provided information on the procedures, rules and regulations pertinent to the Corps of Engineers’ processing of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Also provided are links to various sites, which you may find helpful in understanding and interpreting the Act.

For additional assistance in submitting a request, see the  Army Citizens Guide  or the Department of Defense’s FOIA Handbook. The Guide and the Handbook provide advice on the rules of the FOIA and how to submit a FOIA request to Army and Defense Department Agencies.

Sample Request Letter:

Dear :

     This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. § 552).

     I request that a copy of the following document(s) be provided to me: [identify the documents as specifically as possible].

     In order to help you determine my status for the purpose of assessing fees, you should know that I am [insert one of the descriptions below]

        a representative of the news media affiliated with the _______ newspaper (magazine, television station, etc.), and this request is made as part of news gathering and not for a commercial use.

        affiliated with an educational or noncommercial scientific institution, and this request is made for a scholarly or scientific purpose and not for a commercial use.

        affiliated with a private business and am seeking information for use in the company’s business.

        an individual seeking information for personal use and not for a commercial use.

     I am willing to pay the appropriate fees for this request up to a maximum of $___. If you estimate that the fees will exceed this limit, please inform me first.

     I also include a telephone number at which I can be contacted if necessary to discuss any aspect of my request.

                                Sincerely,



                                Name
                                Address
                                City, State, Zip Code
                                Telephone number

Send all requests via mail, fax or e-mail to:

FOIA Officer/FOIA Coordinator
Office of Counsel
USACE, Buffalo District
1776 Niagara Street
Buffalo, NY 14207-3199

 

Email: foia-lrb@usace.army.mil

Fax (716) 879-4292

Phone: 1-800-833-6390 (option 5)

  

FOIA Information

Collapse All Expand All
You may file an appeal if you are not satisfied with a FOIA Office's initial response. You should be advised of your right to file an appeal in the initial denial/determination letter sent by the FOIA Office. Ordinarily, your appeal must be received within 60 days of the date of the component's determination letter. All appeals must be made in writing and addressed to the local FOIA Office. That Office will prepare an appeal package to send through the FOIA Program Office to the Army General Counsel. Both the front of the envelope and the appeal letter should contain the notation "Freedom of Information Act Appeal." There is no specific form or particular language needed to file an appeal.

You may explain the reason or reasons why you disagree with the component's action, but a simple statement that you are appealing the decision is normally sufficient. If, however, you are appealing because you believe there are additional records that have not been located in response to your request, you should specify why you think such records exist and, if possible, where you believe they might be located.
Click here to expand contentClick here to collapse content  Fees

If you have a specific question about fees, please contact the Buffalo District FOIA Office at: 1-800-833-6390 (option 5)

There is no initial fee to make a FOIA request, and in many cases no fees are charged. However, we are authorized by law to recover the direct costs of providing information to a FOIA requester. For purposes of fees only, the FOIA divides requesters into three categories:

  • commercial use requesters,
  • news media, educational, or scientific requesters; and
  • all other requesters.
Commercial use requesters are charged for search time, document review, and duplication. News media, educational, and scientific requesters are charged for duplication only, after the first 100 pages. All other requesters are charged for search time (after two hours) and duplication (after 100 pages). In all cases, if the total fee does not exceed $15.00, the Corps of Engineers will not charge any fee at all.

In your request letter you may make a specific statement limiting the amount of fees you are willing to pay. If you do not, the Corps of Engineers will assume that you are willing to pay all appropriate fees of up to $250.00. If your estimated fees exceed $250.00, you will be given the opportunity to narrow your request in order to reduce the fees or you will be asked to express your commitment to pay the estimated amount. Ordinarily, for fees under $250.00 you will not be required to actually pay the fees until the records have been located and are ready to be sent to you.

Fee schedule (as of 5/9/02):
  • duplication charges:
    • paper reproduction – 15 cents per page
    • computer tapes and print-outs – direct costs and labor costs
  • search charges:
    • $20.00 per hour for clerical staff
    • $44.00 per hour for professional staff
    • $75.00 per hour for executive staff
  • review charges:
    • $20.00 per hour for clerical staff
    • $44.00 per hour for professional staff
    • $75.00 per hour for managerial staff
Fee Waivers

If you expect or are advised that a fee will be charged, you may request a fee waiver of those fees. However, fee waivers are limited to situations in which a requester can show that disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations and activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester. For a more complete explanation of fee and fee waiver matters, go to the Department of Defense FOIA Regulations and scroll down to the "Fees" subheading.
Under the FOIA statute, Corps of Engineer FOIA Offices are to respond to a FOIA request within twenty business days. This time period does not begin until the request is perfected, as discussed in the DoD and Army FOIA Regulations. Additionally, subject to the new time limits in the OPEN Government Act of 2007, the time period will not begin until actually received by the FOIA Office that maintains the documents sought.

Some FOIA Offices receive hundreds of requests each year. Many of these requests require a detailed review of hundreds or even thousands of pages of documents. Although the Corps of Engineers makes every effort to respond to FOIA requests as quickly as possible, in some cases it simply cannot do so within the specified time period. This may be due either to the size of the request, the location of the documents or to the fact that the Office has a backlog of previously received requests that are awaiting processing.

 

Requests should be submitted to the FOIA Office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District.  

Requests must be in writing, and should include the notation "Freedom of Information Act Request" on the front of the envelope and also at the beginning of the letter. No special form is required for a FOIA request, but a Sample request is provided in the Defense Department FOIA Handbook. Electronic requests are permitted unless a signature is required, such as a request for records subject to the Privacy Act. Electronic requests should include the notation "Freedom of Information Act Request" in the subject.

Requests must state a willingness to pay the applicable fees and must describe the documents requested in sufficient detail to allow the FOIA Office to locate them with a reasonable amount of effort. In making a request you should be as specific as possible with regard to names, titles, dates, places, events, subjects, recipients, type of document, the offices likely to maintain the documents, etc.

A FOIA request can be made for any agency document. This does not mean, however, that all documents will be disclosed. There are statutory exemptions that authorize the withholding of information of a sensitive nature. Additionally, you should be aware that the FOIA does not require FOIA Offices to do research for you, to analyze data, to answer written questions, or to create records in order to respond to a request.

When a FOIA Office receives your FOIA request, it will ordinarily send you a letter acknowledging the request. If you do not provide the necessary information, the Office will advise you of what additional information is required before further processing your request.

In order to protect your privacy as well as the privacy of others, whenever you request information about yourself you will be asked to provide either a notarized statement or a statement signed under penalty of perjury stating that you are the person that you say you are.