Freedom Of Information Act, FOIA
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request
The FOIA Officer is the principal contact point within the University of the District of Columbia for advice and policy guidance on matters pertaining to the administration of the FOIA. All requests are handled professionally and expeditiously.
FOIA requests may be oral or in writing. If the request is written, the envelope shall prominently be marked "FOIA Request." The FOIA Officer may request that an oral request be reduced to writing, if the requested records are not customarily made available by the public body.
Stacie Mills, Legal Policy Coordinator
University of the District of Columbia
4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
For additional information regarding FOIA Requests, please visit the D.C. government FOIA web pages.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is FOIA?
What is the purpose of the District of Columbia FOIA Statue?
Does the University of the District of Columbia have to comply with a public records or Freedom of Information Act request?
What should my office do when it receives a request for documents or other information?
Who can file a FOIA request?
What are my responsibilities?
How do I provide documents to the FOIA Officer?
What if my office does not have any documents?
What are the deadlines to answer a FOIA request?
What are the penalties for noncompliance?
The U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a law that was enacted in 1966 to give the public access to inspect and/or receive copies of public records regularly maintained by federal government agencies. FOIA is the name commonly used to refer to the Freedom of Information Act. FOIA is codified at 5 U.S.C. §552.
The District of Columbia government also has a Freedom of Information Act. D.C. Official Code §§2-531 et seq. states that as a matter of public policy, “all persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those who represent them as public officials and employees.”
The D.C. FOIA, like its federal counterpart, seeks to expand public access to information and minimize cost and time delays to those who request information.
Yes. The University is subject to FOIA.
If you receive a request for documents, regardless of whether the request makes a specific reference to the DC FOIA, you should immediately contact the University’s FOIA Officer in the Office of the General Counsel. Do not delay in contacting the FOIA Officer after receiving a request for documents.
The University has only fifteen (15) working days from receipt of the request to respond, so it is important that you move quickly. Familiarize yourself with the requested information. There is no need to begin searching for or copying documents before talking with the FOIA Officer.
Any person may file a FOIA request. A request should be in writing and maybe submitted via fax, US mail or electronic mail. There is no central FOIA office in the District government; rather each agency has a FOIA Officer who receives all requests. Once the request is received by the FOIA Officer, she will determine which office(s) within the University is best suited to respond to the request.
University staff should respond to the FOIA Officer in a timely manner but no later than three business days. Specifically, University staff should advise the FOIA Officer: (1) whether you or someone in your office has all or part of the information requested; (2) whether the request needs further clarification; (3) the amount of time you or someone in your office spent searching for the information; (4) whether the information can be provided electronically.
If you or your office has the information requested please provide it to OGC (electronically or hard copy) in the most convenient format. Please forward your requested documents or records in the manner they exist in your records or files now. Please do not mark or otherwise alter your documents. Should you desire to create a spreadsheet in response to a FOIA request, please note that decision is yours, but is not required by the DC FOIA. Do not delay your production of documents because of a spreadsheet. Documents or records identified as original will be returned to you, however, you are advised to retain a copy of those documents or records, where practicable.
Also, please keep in mind that you or your office is being requested to provide documents that are maintained by you or your staff. Do not confer with other offices. A duplication of documents ensures the completeness of the University’s search, response and compliance with the law. Should you see an office, department or area that is not included in the email request, let the FOIA Officer know.
To assist the FOIA Offer, you are requested to provide all potentially responsive documents as soon as possible, but no later than the time identified in the FOIA Officer’s request to you. The FOIA Officer makes the final determination as to what is responsive. All information that is potentially or directly responsive to the request must be provided. If you have information that is confidential or may otherwise be exempt from disclosure, you are requested to provide the requested document or record and any other information relevant to a determination of disclosure to the FOIA Officer as soon as possible.
If you have conducted a thorough search and have determined that the requested documents or records do not exist or cannot be located, please advise the FOIA Officer as soon as possible.
The University must respond to an FOIA request within 15 working days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal public holidays). The response period begins on the date the request is actually received by the FOIA Officer.
In most circumstances, the FOIA Officer will do her best to forward the request to staff the same day it is received. Staff should respond in a timely manner consistent with the guidelines above to avoid penalties.
The University may extend the time for a response by an additional 10 working days (again, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal public holidays) for unusual circumstances, such as when there is a need to search through a voluminous amount of separate and distinct records or when there is a need to consult with another agency in order to obtain information. (DC Official Code § 2-532(d)). Staff should immediately report unusual circumstances to the FOIA Officer. Any requests for time extensions will be determined by the FOIA officer.
If the University fails to comply with time limits, it will be treated as a denial of the request and the requestor may file an administrative appeal or seek judicial review of the denial. Failure to comply with FOIA requests timely and completely, may result in fines and penalties for the University.