Date: May 7, 1996
Series: Administrative Procedure
Part 203: Freedom of Information Act
Originating Office: Division of Policy and Directives Management
1.1 Policy. The policy of the Service is to provide the public prompt access to information about Service activities in accordance with the spirit and intent of the FOIA.
A. 5 U.S.C. 552, Freedom of Information Act.
B. 383 DM 15, Freedom of Information Act, Policy and Procedures.
C. Freedom of Information Act Handbook (383 DM 15)
1.3 Definitions. Selected definitions are emphasized as follows:
A. A record is defined to include all books, papers, maps, charts, plats, plans, architectural drawings and microfilm; all machine-readable material such as electronic mail, magnetic tape, disks, drums, and punched cards; all audiovisual material such as still pictures, sound and video recordings, and all other documentary materials (including handwritten notes), regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by the Service pursuant to Federal laws or in connection with the transaction of public business and preserved or appropriate for preservation by the Service as evidence of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities, or because of the informational value of the recorded data.
B. A workday for purposes of adhering to time limitations inherent in responding to a FOIA is considered to mean a regular Federal working day. It does not include Saturdays, Sundays, or Federal holidays.
C. A FOIA request is a written request for records made by the public that specifically invokes the Act. However, the Service may treat a request for records that does not specifically invoke the Act as a FOIA request.
1.4 Statutory Requirements.
A. Disclosure. The FOIA requires that the Service, on a request from a member of the public submitted in accordance with the procedures in 43 CFR 2, make requested records available for inspection and copying.
B. Exemptions. FOIA provides the following nine exemptions (detailed in 43 CFR 2.13) for withholding information from the public:
(1) Matters of national defense or foreign policy.
(2) Internal personnel rules and practices.
(3) Information specifically from the FOIA exempted by other statutes.
(4) Trade secrets, commercial or financial information (confidential business information).
(5) Privileged interagency or intra-agency memoranda or letters.
(6) Personal information affecting an individual's privacy.
(7) Records compiled for law enforcement purposes.
(8) Records of financial institutions.
(9) Geological and geophysical information, including maps, concerning wells.
C. Service Practice. The exemptions listed in 1.4B. above are not mandatory bars to disclosure; they describe the information that Service officials may, upon a determination that sound grounds for withholding a record exists, choose not to release. It is the practice of the Service to withhold information falling within an exemption only if disclosure is prohibited by Federal statute or Executive order or if valid grounds exist for invocation of the exemption. If an exemption is to be invoked to deny access to information, a justification for withholding the information must be provided--a mere assertion that an exemption applies is insufficient. For any denials of requests made under the authority of exemptions (2) or (5) above, the Service's file must include a brief description of the specific harm to the Government that could occur if the material were released.
A. The Director, Deputy Director - Staff prescribes internal policies and procedures and assures overall program effectiveness in complying with the provisions of the FOIA.
B. The Service FOIA Officer prepares internal policies and procedures, provides advice, training, and guidance on FOIA matters to officials Servicewide and represents the Service with the Department's FOIA Appeals Officer.
C. Assistant and Regional Directors will ensure adherence to the contents of this Part (203 FW), and as deemed necessary, issue supplemental guidance. Regional Directors will designate a Regional FOIA Officer to provide advice and guidance on FOIA matters within the Regions.
D. Headquarters Division Chiefs and Assistant Regional Directors, and Project Leaders are considered action offices and have responsibility to grant access to inspect or copy records; i.e., release records as defined in the FOIA in accordance with Departmental and Service procedures in Chapter 2.
1.6 Annual Report. On or before February 1 of each calendar year, the Service is required to submit a report covering FOIA activities for the preceding calendar year to the Departmental FOIA Officer. Upon receipt of annual Office of the Secretary and Department of Justice instructions pertaining to report, the Service FOIA Officer will request information from appropriate Headquarters and Regional offices and prepare the Service's consolidated report (Report Control Symbol R203-1A) for submittal to the Department.
For additional information about this policy, contact the Service’s FOIA Officer. For more information regarding this Web page, contact Krista Holloway, in the Division of Policy and Directives Management.