The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
Notice: As a result of increases in the Health Protection Condition (HPCON) level, our offices are limited to mission-essential personnel only and maximizing the use of telework for other personnel. This means that we are unable to handle requests sent via traditional methods and can only respond to electronic inquiries while under elevated HPCON levels.
The Freedom of Information Act generally provides that any person has a right, enforceable in court, to obtain access to federal agency records, except to the extent that such records (or portions of them) are protected from disclosure by one of nine exemptions or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions.
Enacted in 1966, the FOIA established for the first time an effective statutory right of access to government information. The principles of government openness and accountability underlying the FOIA, however, are inherent in the democratic ideal: "The basic purpose of [the] FOIA is to ensure an informed citizenry, vital to the functioning of a democratic society, needed to check against corruption and to hold the governors accountable to the governed." The Supreme Court has emphasized that "official information that sheds light on an agency's performance of its statutory duties falls squarely within that statutory purpose."
The FOIA, known by its legal cite as Title 5 U.S.C. § 552, along with the Department of Defense (DoD) Regulation 5400.7, governs how FOIA requests will be processed within the Montana Army National Guard.
This applies to “agency records.” Records include almost anything capable of being reproduced – books, papers, computer data, photographs, videotapes, etc. Disclosure is the rule, not the exception. The status and purpose of the requester are irrelevant in determining release.
Some information can be excempt from requests. Exemptions permit withholding. This typically includes but is not limeted to:
1. Classified records.
2. Internal personnel rules and practices.
3. Other Federal withholding statutes.
4. Trade secrets and commercial or financial information.
5. Certain agency memoranda and internal agency communications.
6. Personal privacy protection.
7. Records of information complied for law enforcement purposes.
How to file a FOIA
If you are seeking personal records under FOIA , you must provide the request in a letter with your signature, indicating the specific records you are seeking. Based on the existing retrieval practice for the records you are seeking, you may be asked to provide additional information to allow us to retrieve your record. The letter, containing your signature, can be mailed, faxed, or scanned and sent as an e-mail attachment.
Essential Elements of a FOIA Request Letter:
Provide your full name and contact information
Provide a reasonable description of the record(s) requested
Provide a statement of your fee category and your willingness to pay applicable fees
Send your request to the applicable FOIA Office (see below)
Educational, Noncommercial, Scientific, and Media: Any accredited U.S. educational or research institution or instructor of an institution, or representative of the news media using the information in a scholarly or analytical work contributing to public knowledge and disseminated to the public.
Commercial: Increases the commercial interest of the requestor.
All Others: All other requestors
The FOIA provides for the collection of fees for:
Searches: Time spent in looking for and retrieving material, either paper or electronic files, that are responsive to the request to include personnel hours (clerical and professional) and computer time.
Reviews: Time spent to determine if the record is releasable under legal guidelines, excluding resolution of legal or policy issues. This does include time spent excising text that is exempt under FOIA.
Reproduction: Generating a copy of a requested record in the appropriate medium, for example paper or computer file.
Fees rates and schedules can be found in DoD 5400.7, DoD Freedom of Information Act Program (http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/540007r.pdf),
and on the DD 2086, Record of FOI Costs (http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/infomgt/forms/eforms/dd2086.pdf).
For more information the Freedom of Information Act, please visit http://www.usdoj.gov/oip/index.html
FOIA requests can be sent to:
MT ARNG FOIA
1956 MT Majo Street
PO Box 4789
Fort Harrison, MT 59636-4789
email: FOIA Request Email
Please contact us prior to E-mailing at (406) 324-3000 to ensure reciept of your request.
Updated 03 August 2020