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Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act, also known as the FOIA, was enacted in 1966 and is the primary means by which the public has access to records in the possession of Executive Branch agencies of the Federal Government. The FOIA is operated under the premise that the public has a right to know what the Government is doing, how it is being done, and what information is being collected. However, to prevent individuals, businesses, and government from harm resulting from the release of certain information, the FOIA provides a means by which limited information can be withheld from disclosure.

See COMDTINST M5260.3, Chapter 8, for a discussion of the exemptions, which limit disclosure of certain information.

FOIA requests may be submitted in writing via mail, or overnight carrier to:

Commander (dl)
Seventeenth Coast Guard District
P.O. Box 25517
Juneau, Alaska 99802-5517
Attn: FOIA

FOIA's may also be submitted via Fax or email. When sending FOIA's please be sure to include the subject "Request For FOIA", and preferred response method.                                                         

The Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts Officer has responsibility for managing this program. He/she ensures its implementation agency-wide and provides oversight for the operations and processing of initial requests. 


How to Make a FOIA Request

A FOIA request can be made for any agency record. This does not mean, however, that the U.S. Coast Guard will disclose all records sought. There are statutory exemptions that authorize the withholding of information of a sensitive nature. When the Coast Guard does withhold information from you, it ordinarily must specify which exemption of the FOIA permits the withholding. You should be aware that the FOIA does not require agencies to do research for you, to analyze data, to answer written questions, or to create records in order to respond to a request. 

 Although, as discussed immediately below, certain information may be required from a FOIA requester, the U.S. Coast Guard requires no special form. Requests must be in writing, either handwritten or typed. While requests may be submitted by fax, most offices of the Coast Guard have not yet developed the capability to accept FOIA requests submitted through the World Wide Web. 

In order to protect your privacy as well as the privacy of others, whenever you request information about yourself you will be asked to provide either a notarized statement or a statement signed under penalty of perjury stating that you are the person that you say you are. You may fulfill this requirement by: (1) having your signature on your request letter witnessed by a notary, or (2) including the following statement immediately above the signature on your request letter: "I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on [date]." If you request information about yourself and do not follow one of these procedures, your request cannot be processed. This requirement helps to ensure that private information about you will not be disclosed to anyone else. 

In making your request you should be as specific as possible with regard to names, dates, places, events, subjects, etc. In addition, if you want records about a court case, you should provide the title of the case, the court in which the case was filed, and the nature of the case. If known, you should include any file designations or descriptions for the records that you want. You do not have to give a requested record's name or title, but the more specific you are about the records or types of records that you want, the more likely it will be that the U.S. Coast Guard will be able to locate those records. For example, if you have been interviewed by a law enforcement component of the Justice Department (such as the FBI) in connection with a law enforcement investigation and you wish to request a copy of the interview report, your listing of the date and location of the interview, and the name of the interviewing agent and subject of the investigation, if known, will be helpful to the component in determining where to search and in determining which records respond to your request. Additionally, you should be aware that Coast Guard offices ordinarily will use the date upon which they begin a record search as the "cut-off" date for determining the records that are responsive to a FOIA request. 

When a Coast Guard office receives your FOIA request, it ordinarily will send you a letter acknowledging the request and assigning it an initial request number. If you do not provide the necessary information, the component will advise you of what additional information is required before further processing your request.

Under certain circumstances you may be entitled to receive more information under the Privacy Act of 1974 (a separate federal statute) than under the FOIA. Under the FOIA anyone can request access to any agency record. Privacy Act requests are more limited and can be made only by (1) U.S. citizens or aliens lawfully admitted for permanent U.S. residence, (2) who are seeking information about themselves, (3) which is in a system of records maintained under their names or other personal identifiers. Even if a request does not mention the Privacy Act, however, the Coast Guard automatically treats requests as being made under both the FOIA and the Privacy Act whenever it is appropriate to do so. In this way, requesters receive the maximum amount of information available to them under the law.

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Last Modified 1/12/2016