The principles of government openness and accountability underlying the FOIA are inherent in the democratic ideal: "The basic purpose of the FOIA is to ensure an informed citizenry, vital to the functioning of a democratic society, needed to check against corruption and to hold the governors accountable to the governed."
Members of the public, including foreign citizens, military and civilian personnel acting as private citizens, organizations and businesses, and individual members of the Congress for themselves or constituents, may request records in writing. It is important to remember that the Freedom of Information Act applies only to federal agencies. It does not create a right of access to records held by Congress, the courts, state or local government agencies, or by private businesses or individuals. Each state has its own public access laws that should by consulted for access to state and local records.
How to Make a FOIA Request
For fastest response times, the Air Force has decentralized its FOIA program. No single office handles all FOIA requests. If you prefer not to submit on line you can mail/fax your request to the FOIA Requester Service Center where the record is located or the particular base or activity that has the records you want. If you don't know which Air Force activity has the records you want, mail/fax your request to: SAF/AAII, 1000 Air Force Pentagon, Washington, DC 20330-1000; efax email@example.com. Ensure you describe the records you want as specifically as possible, and let the office know how much you are willing to pay. Furnish any facts or clues about the time, place, persons, events, subjects, or other details of the information or records you want. That will help the office decide where to search and determine what records pertain to your request. It can also save you and the government time and money, and you may get what you want faster. There is no special form to complete. Mark your request and envelope "FOIA."
The FOIA allows fee charges based on the requester's category. There are three categories: commercial (pay search, review, and reproduction fees); educational, non-commercial scientific institution, and news media (pay reproduction fees; first 100 pages provided at no cost); and others (pay search and reproduction fees; first two hours search and 100 pages provided at no cost). For information on FOIA fees read PART 286--DoD FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT PROGRAM REGULATION at www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/dfoipo/docs/foiafees.pdf.
If you are advised or expect that a fee will be charged, you may request in writing a waiver of those fees if the 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. The mere fact that you are a non-profit organization or a member of the media does not in and of itself qualify for a fee waiver. In addition, a requester's inability to pay is not a legal basis for granting a fee waiver.
How to Make a Privacy Request
For information on how and what's required to submit a Privacy request click here