Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Policy

  1. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which can be found in Title 5 of the United States Code, section 552, was enacted in 1966 and provides that any person has the right to request access to federal agency records or information. All agencies of the United States government are required to disclose records upon receiving a written request for them, except for those records that are protected from disclosure by the nine exemptions and three exclusions of the FOIA. This right of access is enforceable in court. The federal FOIA does not, however, provide access to records held by state or local government agencies, or by private businesses or individuals. All states have their own statutes governing public access to state and local records; state agencies should be consulted for further information about them.
  2. This Reference Guide is designed to familiarize you with the specific procedures for making a FOIA request to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service (FS).
    It is important to understand that there is no central office in the government that processes FOIA requests for all federal agencies. Each agency responds to requests for its own records. Therefore, before sending a request to the Forest Service you should determine whether this agency is likely to have the records you are seeking.
    Other general sources of information about how to make a FOIA request include:
    • “Your Right to Federal Records,” is available for fifty cents per copy from the Consumer Information Center, Department 319E, Pueblo, CO 81009. This publication also can be accessed electronically at:
    • “A Citizen’s Guide on Using the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974 to Request Government Records,” is published by the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight of the House of Representatives. It is available for sale for $5.00 from the U.S. Government Printing Office, stock number 052-071-01230-3. It also can be accessed on the World Wide Web at:
    The formal rules for making FOIA requests to the FS are sent forth in 7 CFR 1.6.

Access to Certain Records Without a FOIA Request

Where to Make a FOIA Request

How to Make a FOIA Request

Response times

Expediated processing


Fee Waivers

Initial Request Determinations


Judicial Review

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Maintained by P. Sikkink
Last modified: Feb 11, 2011