The United States Department of Justice Department of Justice Seal The United States Department of Justice
Search Archive
 
 
The Department of Justice Guide to the Freedom of Information Act (2009 Edition)
The 2009 Edition of the DOJ Guide to the Freedom of Information Act, surrounded by previous editions of the Guide.

The United States Department of Justice Guide to the Freedom of Information Act (2009 edition) is a comprehensive legal treatise of the FOIA's procedural requirements, exemptions, and litigation considerations. It contains a detailed analysis of the key judicial opinions issued on the FOIA. The Guide is prepared and updated by the staff of OIP. Any inquiry about the points addressed in the Guide should be made to OIP through its FOIA Counselor Service, at (202) 514-FOIA (3642).

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Introduction (PDF)
    • Structure of the FOIA
    • History of the FOIA
  • Proactive Disclosures (PDF)
    • Subsection (a)(2): Making Records Available for Public Inspection
    • Categories of Records Required to be Disclosed Proactively
    • Disclosing Records Proactively to Achieve Transparency
    • Electronic Availability of Proactive Disclosures
    • Indexing Proactive Disclosures
  • Procedural Requirements (PDF)
    • President Obama's FOIA Memorandum & Attorney General Holder's FOIA Guidelines
    • OPEN Government Act
    • Entities Subject to the FOIA
    • "Agency Records"
    • FOIA Requesters
    • Proper FOIA Requests
    • Time Limits
    • Expedited Processing
    • Searching for Responsive Records
    • "Reasonably Segregable" Obligation
    • Referrals and Consultations
    • Responding to FOIA Requests
    • Administrative Appeals
  • Fees and Fee Waivers (PDF)
    • Introduction
    • Fees
    • Requester Categories
    • Types of Fees
    • Fee Restrictions
    • Fee Waivers
  • Exemption 1 (PDF)
    • Standard of Review
    • Deference to Agency Expertise
    • In Camera Submissions and Adequate Public Record
    • Waiver of Exemption Protection
    • Executive Order 12,958, as Amended
    • Duration of Classification and Declassification
    • Glomar Response and Mosaic Approach
    • Exclusion Considerations
  • Exemption 2 (PDF)
    On March 7, 2011, the Supreme Court significantly narrowed the scope of Exemption 2 in Milner v. Department of the Navy. OIPs Guidance on Exemption 2 in the wake of Milner explains the new parameters of Exemption 2.
    • Initial Considerations
    • "Low 2": Trivial Matters
    • "High 2": Risk of Circumvention
    • Homeland Security-Related Information
  • Exemption 3 (PDF)
    • Initial Considerations
    • Statutes Not Delineated as "Subpart (A)" or "Subpart (B)"
    • Subpart (A) Statutes
    • Subpart (B) Statutes
    • Statutes Satisfying Both Subpart (A) and Subpart (B)
    • Tax Return Information
    • FOIA-Specific Nondisclosure Statutes
    • Nondisclosure Results Under Appropriations Acts
    • "Operational Files" Provisions
    • Statutes Found Not to Qualify Under Exemption 3
  • Exemption 4 (PDF)
    • Trade Secrets
    • Commercial or Financial Information
    • Obtained from a "Person"
    • "Confidential" Information
    • The Critical Mass Decision
    • Applying Critical Mass
    • Impairment Prong of National Parks
    • Competitive Harm Prong of National Parks
    • Third Prong of National Parks
    • Privileged Information
    • Interrelation with the Trade Secrets Act
  • Exemption 5 (PDF)
    • "Inter-Agency or Intra-Agency" Threshold Requirement
    • Deliberative Process Privilege
    • Attorney Work-Product Privilege
    • Attorney-Client Privilege
    • Other Privileges
  • Exemption 6 (PDF)
    • Introduction
    • Threshold: Personnel, Medical, and Similar Files
    • Privacy Interest
    • Public Interest
    • Balancing Process
    • Balancing Process for Names & Addresses
    • Partial Disclosures
  • Exemption 7 (PDF)
    • Introduction
    • "Compiled" for Law Enforcement Purposes
    • "Law Enforcement Purpose"
    • Types of Law Enforcement
    • Personnel Actions v. Law Enforcement Activity
    • Mixed-Function Agencies
    • Criminal Law Enforcement Agencies and Deference
  • Exemption 7(A) (PDF)
    • Introduction
    • Two-Part Test
    • Duration
    • Related Proceedings
    • Types of Law Enforcement Proceedings
    • Deference
    • Generic Categories
    • Adequate Descriptions of Categories
    • Descriptions of Harm
    • Changes in Circumstances
    • Post-Maydak Rulings
    • Time Frame for Determining Exemption 7(A) Applicability
    • Exclusion Considerations
  • Exemption 7(C) (PDF)
    • Privacy Considerations
    • Public Interest
    • Balancing Process
    • The "Glomar" Response
  • Exemption 7(D) (PDF)
    • Introduction
    • Express Confidentiality
    • Implied Confidentiality
    • Information Eligible for Protection
    • Waiver of Confidentiality
    • Exclusion Considerations
  • Exemption 7(E) (PDF)
    • Techniques and Procedures
    • Guidelines for Law Enforcement Investigations and Prosecutions
  • Exclusions (PDF)
    • The (c)(1) Exclusion
    • The (c)(2) Exclusion
    • The (c)(3) Exclusion
    • Procedural Considerations
  • Litigation Considerations (PDF)
    • Jurisdiction, Venue, and Other Preliminary Matters
    • Pleadings
    • Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
    • "Open America" Stays of Proceedings
    • Adequacy of Search
    • Mootness and Other Grounds for Dismissal
    • Vaughn Index
    • "Reasonably Segregable" Requirements
    • In Camera Inspection
    • Summary Judgment
    • Discovery
    • Waiver of Exemptions in Litigation
    • Referral to Special Counsel and Limitations on Filing Frivolous Suits
    • Considerations on Appeal
  • Attorney Fees (PDF)
    • Threshold Issues
    • Eligibility
    • Entitlement
    • Calculations
  • Reverse FOIA (PDF)
    • Standard of Review
    • Executive Order 12,600
=v8 4{욢.mcˉ3qnсHHM4ARsƾ//~V EJ,FʞX+AC4= YX媅@p~$CY?*f.H F[\ȍ<8]8}O0g \mYj GCm#:A,/3c (4^mw ޶AcfcgI `Az F[QzZ&Bm>R9Y _),T+mx27U/zu^a)k2>6sDn9}p7=Ѕ20f<}צ^Bkk7YH#fq@=N^kv9 E }0Z qD{ :4""T\m} * 8`*za MS!'ha3JNP0l! Mt4{EϠevNj!<_ lǕhKr>s\ [2~+vy];jݠ~p;wZ]S[=[V;u{N}ޏO߭)Kewf{6u{#_~$1|5ݱ^u{g'6گ6ޟ| xs?suºv jĢt(.)<-#RRK,KAÃ;ȟ1|md^Y5S+1+dGmA&RfXM1L!h}oo.Cڎnslpy9m_V+ϟ.V)l.g62g sݮ]gw;N~u.8{͍Ǖ_.QcspFYꢹQ{4O͋싐O~31I?w D=UޗE5|G{k/ޕ$Cr‹0>~6{owg˷7{vp]^[tUjNt}_T5;Oqy_oѬyzZ^V&W >w"0~WO{|%ހz X#M{ڛdX@<-DYY6"?o"M*o.Fi P ;m>,nV ڒuY2១B-4BiTMn@sI~Ч^"n 4o3ªM C =s* l>uhX(fiP ~1-8yWG)-z3Vͽ!(>۵Z}UsYy*SZυ(_\aB~\4.3{3JGU ϙԱINqSK,yZy)7dnȄx[OiŖ;4ŀщ.Ih3BXBY\>٧M1#Xb>;Fq(W߶dܥPM BztȯF#3Ƞ*F"b仄?xN ;φZo) 5Ȥu:Z:zzЀq0vhXBl]]uLĮ'/F v@2큱X #Gqt嘂9i [`1ڽ[mXP}~#5}sjXA>4BYУG~mo> G 1 s/7UXp$HUXpdE3>ʋ!4?-pI0"@& R$Y nb0w4'Nw%ղ q81[`acl!%E9OK=s}'1N3J/YD Zx+.VG.?} }J#-a~πwCeL2"AdEL0@Mm %PۍFP.6Vs&zPOLNqcSߙS Z.gF4^7Cu\;C0נz_12Zbٸ\mr 5OEFpݕ@AUR7ƿ=C6q} /VʴbB"O4wӹ5E̎&0gX(C+3.6,(Y:K˲뎋(ʣdm˥*r2Uu:$tW8u2@GLJ\q8x;ʎmh_8iO WyH'[Jeôq ;jZ:<"af^I#дE ¾a~aB6C&ic7pe |oX ;ĉL]WZ22Lp<8N<9-+"M,4J6s *6@haTRlA1t[/ `÷ll8|esfԪI'sڑ2 dsvFdjŘ漲-1 _G $<ѰhQ]W^P/f*ux0R+ivxP^,wM5}(t/Iw=csm3nc$L*?NJ/3!o2!e.%r%"<20GO7KF"z'!CAӁj!.lB\VTrNjFhD㗡k0,8O;";=t@BӈD01ҍiXHDIǡ-5p'qJ{OB>g>k!פ%oOnvPGLġ'L܊JMke% }y4!`O H$FH+(|H MFq5-R+Ϗ3(⢎V7*ׯo~y-u v͝QrCYV'p[1]M=᎟̣RG#.-wM[!yT@&ʦD5E0r6 Ev tOa yg6ĝ[?1ş nq g.Ij:܎F`\۲(9 ) s)5R $  B!A­gP @}'upMKiQߗ4-9rdN_kE},elnV d0enkB]^ܬFV(BL:`;[GUZe1%-#鸷)>k)#dh3m=Xma\I +Q Ҋ6W`wnʞ?k4'@nDř+O٘\Ѱ#ZMFd=7Ɔq%@ApxI5ؒtD:3Zj'#ԺQ^Q؃UmfS֛s_,~3h)pA#Cm bVIчGI,Hξn4S$uҪQ4ɻ6ġIjj!Nոo-,nx\ qrzj4#Oo"!j x } {0"aY"n9f!R(9a+#ZR%L4DULՖ/X,V0hPi\{@rgFϢZU&d4Tv~on9ȢQ!)9LO8Gp/(b'i9z'7{~M0jߖ%-(2048͕M5jm"iг!پ01-ü{Ke(y@-l 68Q t1Xoe?.JԄ#1Sf % /}7P$`uJr7htu|TA8y.^MގMW}%>Ǒ8R3eUF:@UCtʰ6TO1bo :?SI6-M D[ڻkq(B{,MmIu Nk43?Q]`f'm83`YN{S6&WV3 `tRvy䬭PIՎ&Z&ޞECc'~&.sؘFR$TePYmSMPAx&-[2[Y'1ny0˲3誹WKFc'9vYSՋWfS2E`_x1Ċf&G^bnuVʅӎIԞ+3pwS?kJgWXr02H Ru#RSωvC;nrW3M܇xgDFXZ0Gh,{0Srl#X%A,__Ydq\V x6 nOf7؅>m;+E,;',TN.@wq;gcZ+gsEH(q{fʃqW.\0@ c}Q/@16PqrϠ 9[amz+HlvL$fzt`tErg'd·6w©cZjZy@[SvSghu1`i:gܰ JXr1&@مS( sҁYx;2ZLW󤻲VN/ Y(PȇY\WImm6Ce~L"NQH:5- ,̙5nG c\Z DZ&'ytS }o.zi*\E _VFij/!Dzflf43&g21 MED&0/o̺pv<C8 GrjM5 hƹ3d*J8& >Eu%WgUB1کT<{)a6_X7 /$>="' fRnhɫxq@ܞD2%INY|6|(ѝ0 ɽi 5Py{5}wMiob+\ wn3|`={k6/α)/6wڗȊosO85 X[fY3s\/\r}Z>kZ|vjm)R$oI(wN͓g [>5KHͅX)>;4xrLG$RFLM*0[tlgQ'ٳ>mOVvm3v9䴎~c];|~eo?:!(lxA J ^RJ=uW$%vr=co끆qZԧ%A}P8i] _vEڣm~6({Q$nn0up斚LS ZS ׄ3Df9VaSW_+@w11VytG;n&CcKzן_MvmE5Rvn s&]I'ެZNi