Freedom of Information Act, FOIA
The District of Columbia Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, DC Official Code §§ 2-531 et seq., provides that any person has the right to request access to records. All public bodies of the District government are required to disclose public records, except for those records, or portions of records, that are protected from disclosure by the exemptions found at DC Official Code § 2- 534.
A FOIA request may be made for any public record. This does not mean, however, that the public body will disclose every record sought. Statutory exemptions authorize the withholding of certain public records. When the public body does withhold records or portions of records, it must specify which exemption of the FOIA permits the withholding. FOIA does not require agencies to do research, to analyze data, to answer written questions, or to create records in order to respond to a request.
How to Make a Request
Anyone may submit an FOIA request. There is no central FOIA office in the District government. Each public agency responds to requests for its own records. To submit a request, you should determine which public body is likely to maintain the records you are seeking and submit a request to the FOIA Officer of that public body
An FOIA request should be in writing and may be mailed, faxed or emailed. When submitting your request, please mark the outside of the envelope or the subject line of the fax or email: "Freedom of Information Act Request" or "FOIA Request."
Please include a daytime telephone number, email address or mailing address in your request letter so that the FOIA Officer may contact you if necessary.
Describe the record(s) you are seeking as clearly and precisely as possible. In your description, please be as specific as possible with regard to names, dates, places, events, subjects, and other pertinent details that will help to identify the records. The more specific you are about the records you are seeking, the more likely the agency will be able to locate those records. If your request is vague or too broad, we may ask you to be more specific, and this may delay the processing of your request.
All public bodies are required to respond to an FOIA request within 15 working days (that is, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal public holidays). The response period begins on the date the request is actually received by the FOIA officer. The response time may be extended by an additional 10 working days (again, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal public holidays) for unusual circumstances, as defined by DC Official Code § 2-532(d).
Exemptions from FOIA Disclosure
The FOIA statute provides that certain categories of documents may be withheld from disclosure. Included among these are documents that relate to law-enforcement activities, documents subject to recognized legal privileges such as the attorney-client and work-product privileges, documents required to be withheld by other laws (federal or District), documents that reflect the internal deliberative processes of the government, and documents the disclosure of which would result in a clearly unwarranted intrusion on personal privacy. For a complete list of the exemptions, please see DC Official Code § 2-534.
Office of the District of Columbia Auditor
717 14th Street, N.W. Suite 900
Washington, D.C. 20005
(202) 724-8814 (fax)