Open Meetings and FOIA
The University of the District of Columbia is committed to operating in a transparent and open manner. The meetings of the Board of Trustees and its’ committees are open to the public and held in compliance with the District’s Open Meetings Act. (www.open-dc.gov)
Freedom of Information Act
If you cannot locate the information on udc.edu or DC.gov, you can submit a FOIA request online via the DC government Public FOIA Portal. You may also submit a request by mail, fax, or to the email address listed below. However, please note that FOIA requests submitted online will be easier to track and process.
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. The University of the District of Columbia FOIA Officer’s information is listed below.
Avis Marie Russell, Esq, Freedom of Information Act Officer
University of the District of Columbia
4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Building 39, Room 301
Washington, DC 20008
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 record 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.”
Like its federal counterpart, the DC FOIA 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 you must notify the FOIA Officer 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 may be submitted via fax, U.S. mail, or electronic mail. There is no central FOIA office in the District government; instead, each agency has a FOIA Officer who receives all requests. Once the FOIA Officer receives the request, 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 promptly 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 O.G.C. (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. You may create a spreadsheet in response to a FOIA request, but the DC FOIA does not require it. 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 maintained by you or your staff. Do not confer with other offices. Duplication of documents ensures the completeness of the University’s search, response and compliance with the law. You should inform the FOIA Officer if an office, department, or area is not included in the email request.
To assist the FOIA Officer, 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 confidential information 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 a FOIA request within 15 working days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal public holidays). The response period begins on the date the FOIA Officer receives the request.
In most circumstances, the FOIA Officer will do their best to forward the request to staff the same day it is received. Staff should respond promptly and consistently with the guidelines outlined above to avoid penalties.
The University may extend the time for a response by an additional ten 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 to obtain information. (DC Official Code § 2-532(d)). Staff should immediately report unusual circumstances to the FOIA Officer. The FOIA officer will determine any requests for time extensions.
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 fully comply with FOIA requests promptly may result in fines and penalties for the University.
Office of The General Counsel
Building 39, Room 301 R
p | 202.274.5400
f | 202.274.5320
Avis Marie Russell, Esq.
Erica Wright, Esq.
Assistant General Counsel
Thomas Redmond, Esq.
Assistant General Counsel
Taylor T. Garrett