Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The Division of Information Resources and Technology Management (IRTM) administers the Freedom of Information Act within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The FWS FOIA Home Page contains guidance on submitting and appealing a FOIA request. It also contains links to frequently requested information and other Service documents.

The Service's FOIA Officer receives incoming FOIA requests and forwards them to the appropriate Regional or Washington Program Office that handles the particular subject matter. Because so much of the Service's work is conducted in the field and Regional Offices, most Service records are maintained by the Regions. The Service encourages the public to send FOIA requests directly to the appropriate Regional Office.

View the list of FWS Regional FOIA Officers.

FOIA Library - Previously Released Information

Electronic Reading Room (Frequently Requested Information)

Final Agency Directives Reading Room

*** WHAT'S NEW?! ***

Implementing Administration Guidelines for FOIA - Office of the Chief Information Officer (Directive 2010-011, August 6, 2010) (PDF)

Litigation Hold Report - Office of the Solicitor (March 18, 2010) (XLSX)

President’s Memorandum for Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on FOIA (January 21, 2009) (PDF)

President’s Memorandum for Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on Transparency and Open Government (January 21, 2009) (PDF)

Attorney General's Memorandum for Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on FOIA (March 19, 2009) (PDF)

Exemptions: Though the FOIA is a pro-disclosure statute, the following exemptions (if properly justified) may apply:

  1. Classified Documents--information classified in the interests of national security or foreign policy can be withheld (§ 552(b)(1)(A)).
  2. Internal Agency Personnel Rules-- information relating to internal agency practices is exempt if it is a trivial administrative matter of no genuine public interest (e.g., a rule governing lunch hours for agency employees) or if disclosure would risk circumvention of law or agency regulations (e.g., an employee's computer user id) (§ 552(b)(2)).
  3. Information Exempt Under Other Laws--an agency is prohibited from disclosing information that protected from disclosing under other federal laws. For example, federal tax laws prohibit the disclosure of personal income tax returns (§ 552(b)(3)).
  4. Trade Secrets or Confidential Commercial Information--this exemption applies to trade secrets (commercially valuable plans, formulas, processes, or devices) and commercial information obtained from a person (other than an agency) that would be likely to harm the competitive position of the person if disclosed (such as a company's marketing plans, profits, or costs (§ 552(b)(4)).
  5. Internal Agency Memoranda and Policy Discussions--in order to protect the deliberative policymaking processes of government, internal agency memoranda and letters between agencies discussing potential policy options are exempted from disclosure (§ 552(b)(5)).
  6. Personal Privacy--private data held by agencies about individuals is exempt if disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy, but a person is not prevented from obtaining private information about themselves (§ 552(b)(6)).
  7. Law Enforcement Investigations--this exemption allows the withholding of information that would, among other things, interfere with enforcement proceedings or investigations, deprive a person of a right to a fair trial, breach a person's privacy interest in information maintained in law enforcement files, reveal law enforcement techniques and procedures, or endanger the life or physical safety of any individual (§ 552(b)(7)).
  8. Federally Regulated Banks--information that is contained in or related to reports prepared by or for a bank supervisory agency such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Reserve, are exempt (§ 552(b)(8)).
  9. Oil and Gas Wells--geological and geophysical data about oil and gas wells are exempted from disclosure (§ 552(b)(9)).

The public may request records, data and other documents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552). Because the Service is a decentralized agency, most records are maintained in Service field and Regional Offices. The Service has Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Officers in each Regional Office, as well as in its Washington Office within the Division of Information Resources and Technology Management (IRTM). IRTM receives and directs FOIA requests that are not specific to a single Region, and oversees the FWS FOIA program as a whole.

Note:  Because of the disruptions to the mail service in the Washington, D.C., area, there may be a considerable delay in our receipt of mail sent through the U.S. Postal Service.  When corresponding with the Washington Office, you may want to consider alternative methods; e.g., facsimile, email, or overnight delivery.

Service FOIA Policies: Department of the Interior Information: Privacy, Disclaimer and Copyright Information
Information Quality Act

Last updated: May 20, 2011