Freedom of Information Act Guide

Authority

The Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552, as amended). Act provides that information is to be made available to the public either by (a) publication in the Federal Register; (b) providing an opportunity to read and copy records at convenient locations; or (c) upon request, providing a copy of a reasonably described record.

Policy

The Act specifies, among other things, how agencies shall make their records available upon public request, imposes strict time standards for agency responses, and exempts certain records from public disclosure.

Charges for Search and Reproduction

  1. 5 U.S.C. 552(b), Fees to be charged-general. Generally, requestors who are seeking documents for commercial use may be charged for time spent reviewing records.
  2. 5 U.S.C. 552(b), Waiver or reduction of changes. Fees otherwise chargeable in connection with a request for disclosure of a record, shall be waived or reduced where it is determined that disclosure is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the Government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.

NOTE: As Union representing federal employees, the Union is not a commercial entity, and should request all fees be waived as the request for disclosure is in the public interest.

DOD FOIA program is decentralized. Generally each agency, base, post operate their own FOIA offices and respond directly to the public for their own records.

FOIA Request Questions and Answers

  1. Who can file a FOIA request?
    Any person can file a FOIA request, including U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, organization, universities, business and state and local governments.

  2. Who is subject to FOIA?
    FOIA's scope includes Federal Executive Branch Department, agency and Federal regulatory agencies and Federal Corporation. The FOIA's cover almost all data compilation, such as books, papers, maps photographs, machine readable materials, documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or receive by an agency of the U.S. Government under Federal law in connection with the transaction of public business in possession, and control at the time FOIA request is made.

  3. How to file a FOIA request?

    1. Label your request "Freedom of Information Act request," within the request letter and on the envelope. Address the request to the appropriate base FOIA manager or DoD components(s) likely to have the information you seek.
    2. Seek a fee waiver, providing a justification for a waiver.
    3. Describe the specific records you are requesting in enough detail so that they can be located with a reasonable amount of effort. (type of document, title, subject area, date of creation if known, originator, etc) or request enough event-related information (date and circumstance surrounding the event the record covers) to permit the conduct of organized, nonrandom search.

Upon public announcement of an OMB A-76 study, request copy of the approval document and projected Budget/Funding Information.

  1. A-76 savings (as a percentage of manpower costs-both military and civilian) are deducted from the current operating cost, which results in projected available funding. This information is provided in the solicitations to ensure offerors provide realistic proposals that are within available funding. The UMD is releasable under a standard cost comparison.

  2. The current rates deducted from the operating costs are 25% for Cost Comparisons and 10% for Direct Conversions. The projected funds basically equate to the current O&M budget plus 75% or 90% of current manpower costs.

    1. Direct Conversions can be accomplished on a full and open competitive basis or competition can be restricted to small business. The direct conversion can also be accomplished on a sole source basis, under the Small Business Administration 8(a) program. Sole source acquisitions offered to SBA under the 8(a) program will not be publicly advertised.
    2. For direct conversions, request copy of the certification used to support that the direct conversion would be cost effective.
    3. Request documentation supporting the certification used to support the criteria for direct conversion.

     

  3. When including military positions in the MEO, a command-level waiver to use military in an MEO is required. Use of military positions may increase the size of the MEO to a number higher than an all-civilian MEO due to additional manpower actions associated with military. The waiver must be provided before completing the in-house cost estimate.

    Request a copy of the waiver, and justification for the waiver. Civilian personnel flight certification regarding the availability of civilian skills is required as part of the waiver request. Include in your request that if the waiver and memo with applicable attachments is exempt from release, that you be advise of the date the documents will be available for release. This documentation may be considered procurement sensitive information and withheld from release until after the decision is announced. However, once the cost comparison decision is announced, resubmit the FOIA request.

  4. The public review period does not apply to direct conversions.

  5. The administrative appeals period does not apply to direct conversions.

Public Announcement

  1. All competitive acquisitions (solicitations, to include statement of work (SOW)) are published on the Web site known as FedBizopps.gov. This is where all federal government business opportunities are posted. Pre-solicitations notices, draft SOWs and solicitations are issued electronically by all federal agencies (Air Force) at this web site. Contracting activities will post all their acquisition information at this site. Review the available documents on the Webb frequently. Any information made available on this web site, should not be requested under FOIA. Make copies of all documents posted on the Web site for each function being studied and maintained in separate files. The contracting officer will post questions submitted by prospective offerors and the Government response. These questions and the government response should be reviewed carefully. Involve employees with the expertise in the activity being studied. Challenge any questions not responded to accurately, request supporting documentation by FOIA if satisfactory response is not provided within a timely manner.

  2. Request a list of the firms that responded to the sources sought announcement. The information received by the Contracting Officer is used to determine whether or not to restrict competition. The acquisition can be issued on a restricted, limiting competition to small business, or HUBZone Business, and or 8(a) firms, under a cost comparison or direct conversion.

  3. If an unrestricted solicitation is issued, request copy of contracting officer's analysis of the market research.

Cost Comparison

  1. Competitive Cost Comparison

    1. The union should receive a copy of completed Cost Comparisons Form (CCF), management plan and other documentation supporting the Government's Most Efficient Organization (MEO). These documents should be provided to the Union representative, after the tentative decision is announced. (Sometime there may a delay before the document is released.) The administrative appeal period starts from the day the Government CCF/MEO documentation is released to interested parties. If the MEO documentation references other records, request a copies. If not provided directly from the appropriate office, submit a FOIA to the FOIA office requesting the documents.
    2. If the contracting action was accomplished under source selection procedures, request copy of Source Selection Decision Document (SSDD). It will be redacted (names of offerors blocked out), however, the basis for selection of the offeror compared to the government, cost/technical/past performance tradeoffs should be reflected in the decision documents.
  2. Award Document

    1. Request copy of contract award document. This should include completed signed contract form and bid schedule reflecting contractor's prices. The award document is considered to be public, however, the contracting officer withhold release until you request it under FOIA. The contractor may be given the opportunity to request his unit prices be withheld under FOIA exemption 4. This is not easy for contractors, since they have to show how they would be injured by release of the information.
    2. After Award
      1. Request a copy of the transition plan or summary reflecting time lines.
      2. Request copies of contingency plans. These documents may not be released, however, request it under FOIA.
    3. Contract Modifications, Request copies of all modifications to the contract. These include:
      1. Bilateral. Signed by the contractor and contractor officer (i.e. a supplemental agreement with mutual action of the parties). Used to make negotiated equitable adjustments resulting from the issuance of a change order; Definitive letter contract; and reflect other agreements of the parties modifying the terms of contracts.
      2. Unilateral. Signed only by the contracting officer. Unilateral modification are used for: Making administrative changes (i.e. changes to paying office, or funding); Issue termination notices; make changes authorized by clauses other than a changes clause (e.g. Options clause, suspension of work clause, etc); and change orders.
    4. Claims: If a modification is settlement of claim, request copies of the claim. Contractor will submit request for equitable adjustment/claims as a result of changed conditions or from change orders issued by the contracting officer.

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