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FOIA: Freedom of Information Act

NOAA resources for filing FOIA requests

The Freedom of Information Act (5 USC 552) was enacted in 1966. FOIA provides that any person has a right to obtain access to federal agency records, except to the extent that such records (or portions of them) are protected from public disclosure by one of nine FOIA exemptions or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions. This right is enforceable in court.

The Federal FOIA does not provide access to records held by U.S. state or local government agencies or by businesses or individuals. States have their own statutes governing public access to state and local records, and they should be consulted for further information.

Filing a FOIA Request

Before submitting FOIA requests, individuals should ensure that the information they seek is not already in the public domain. Offices maintaining information in the public domain are listed in NOAA's FOIA Reading Room. If the information is not in the public domain, please follow the suggestions listed below to file a new request:

Filing Online
  • Submit a request via FOIA Online the multi-agency FOIA processing and tracking database. Register for an account or submit as a guest user.
  • identify the records requested (be as specific as possible, i.e., describe the subject matter of the records, and, if known, indicate the dates of the records, the places where they originated, and the names of the originating persons or offices);
  • state that the records are requested under the Freedom of Information Act;
  • include daytime telephone numbers in case additional information is needed before answering requests.
Filing by Mail

Mark the outside of the envelope, "Freedom of Information Request" and mail to the address listed below.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Public Reference Facility (SOU1000)
1315 East-West Highway (SSMC3)
Room 9719
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910

Contact NOAA FOIA Staff by Phone / Fax / Email

Phone: 301-628-5658

Fax : 301-713-4040

EmailFOIA@noaa.gov 

NOAA FOIA Corporate Services, Staff and Line Office Contacts

Filing an Appeal

You have the right to file an administrative appeal if you are not satisfied with our response to your FOIA request. All appeals should include a statement of the reasons why you believe the FOIA response was not satisfactory. An appeal based on documents in this release must be received within 90 calendar days of the date of this response letter at the following address:

Assistant General Counsel for Employment, Litigation, and Information
U.S. Department of Commerce Room 5896
1401 Constitution Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20230

An appeal may also be sent by email to FOIAAppeals@doc.gov or by FOIAonline at https://foiaonline.gov.

For your appeal to be complete, it must include the following items:

  • a copy of the original request,
  • our response to your request,
  • a statement explaining why the withheld records should be made available, and why the denial of the records was in error.
  • “Freedom of Information Act Appeal” must appear on your appeal letter. It should also be written on your envelope, email subject line, or your fax cover sheet.

FOIA appeals posted to the email box, FOIAonline, or Office after normal business hours will be deemed received on the next business day.  If the 90th calendar day for submitting an appeal falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal public holiday, an appeal received by 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time, the next business day will be deemed timely.

FOIA grants requesters the right to challenge an agency's final action in federal court. Before doing so, an adjudication of an administrative appeal is ordinarily required.

The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), an office created within the National Archives and Records Administration, offers free mediation services to FOIA requesters. They may be contacted in any of the following ways:

Office of Government Information Services
National Archives and Records Administration
Room 2510
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001

Email: ogis@nara.gov

Phone: 301-837-1996
Fax: 301-837-0348
Toll-free: 1-877-684-6448

Additional FOIA Resources

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