How to File a FOIA Request 

Essential Elements of a FOIA Request Letter

  • Provide your full name and address

  • Provide a reasonable description of the record(s) requested

  • Provide a statement of your fee category and your willingness to pay applicable fees

  • Go to FOIA Contact Submission to file an electronic FOIA request

Send the Letter to the Following Addresses

United States Southern Command

Attn:  SCSJA-FOIA

9301 NW 33rd St

Doral, Fl 33172

Transmission via facsimile is also acceptable. The facsimile number is (305) 437-1240/1.  

 

Sample Request

 

United States Southern Command

Attn:  SCSJA-FOIA

9301 NW 33rd St

Doral, Fl 33172

Dear FOIA Officer,

I am requesting records on [identify the subject(s) or record(s) as clearly and specifically as possible.]

If there are any fees for searching, reviewing, or copying the records, please let me know before you task my request. [or, please supply the records without informing me of the cost if the fees do not exceed a certain dollar amount, which I will agree to pay.

If you deny all or any part of this request, please cite each specific exemption you think justifies your refusal to release the information and notify me of appeal procedures available under the law.

Optional: If you have any questions about this request, you may call me at (home phone) or at my (office phone).

 

Sincerely,  

Name
Address

 

Fee Categories and  Fees

Fee Categories

  1. Educational and Scientific: Any accredited U.S. educational or research institution or instructor/researcher of such an institution using the information in a scholarly or analytical work contributing to public knowledge and disseminated to the public.

  2. Commercial: Increases the commercial interest of the requester – for example, book publishers and authors.

  3. U.S. News Media: Representatives of U.S. newspapers, television stations, radio stations, and freelancers (if publishing through one of these news organizations) disseminating current events of interest to the general public to enhance its understanding of the operation or activities of the U.S. Government.

  4. All Others: Requests from individuals who do not fit into the previous three categories. 

Fees

The FOIA provides for the collection of fees for:

  • Searches: Time spent in looking for and retrieving material, either paper or electronic files, that may be responsive to the request, including personnel hours (clerical and professional) or computer time.     

  • Reviews: Time spent to determine if the record is releasable under legal guidelines, excluding the resolution of legal or policy issues.  This includes blacking out or redaction of text.

  • Reproduction: Generating a copy of a requested record in the appropriate medium, for example paper or computer disk. 
     

Category
Search Cost
Review Cost
Reproduction Cost
Commercial
Clerical:
$20.00 per hr.
 
Professional: $44.00 per hr.
 
Executive: $75.00 per hr.
Clerical: 
$20.00 per hr.
 
Professional: $44.00 per hr.
 
Executive: $75.00 per hr.
15-cents per page.
 
Educational, Scientific & News Media
 
 
None
None
First 100 pages are free,  15-cents per page after that.
 
 All others
 
First two hours free of charge; after full direct cost per below:
 
Clerical:
$20.00 per hr. 
 
Professional: $44.00 per hr.
 
Executive: $75.00 per hr
None
 
First 100 pages are free,  15-cents per page after that.
  

FOIA Exemptions

 

Records that meet the FOIA exemption criteria may be withheld from public disclosure and do not have to be published in the Federal Register, made available in a library reading room, or provided in response to a FOIA request.  The following types of records may be withheld in whole or in part from public disclosure under the FOIA:

Exemption # 1  

Those properly and currently classified in the interest of national defense/security or foreign policy.  If the information qualifies as exemption 1, there is no-discretion regarding its release.

Exemption # 2

Those related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of the Department of Defense or any of its components.

Exemption # 3     

Those concerning matters that a statute specifically exempts from disclosure by terms that permit no discretion on the issue.  A few examples of such statues are:  Patent secrecy, restricted data, communication intelligence, confidentiality of medical quality, contractor proposals, etc.

Exemption # 4     

Those containing trade secrets or commercial or financial information that a DoD component receives from a person or organization outside the government.  The disclosure of such records will likely cause substantial harm to the competitive position of the source providing the information.

Exemption # 5   

Those containing information considered privileged in litigation, primarily under the deliberative process privilege.

Exemption # 6

Information of personnel and medical files, as well as similar personal information in other files, that would result in a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

Exemption # 7

Records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes; i.e., civil criminal, or military law, including the implementation of Executive Orders or regulations issued pursuant to law. 

Exemption # 8

Records pertaining to the regulation or supervision of financial institutions.

Exemption # 9

Those records containing geological and geophysical information and data (including maps) concerning wells.