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The Freedom of Information Act: A Guide to Requesting NEH Records

  1. What is the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?
  2. What type of information can be requested?
  3. Can agency records be obtained without filing a FOIA request?
  4. How do I make a FOIA request?
  5. FOIA Fee Schedule
  6. Am I entitled to a fee waiver?
  7. May I appeal the agency's action on my FOIA request?
  8. What if I have questions or would like to speak with a FOIA officer?
  9. Reference Material: NEH Index of Systems

  1. What is the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?

    The Freedom of Information Act (commonly referred to as FOIA), codified at 5 U.S.C. Section 552, is a federal law that establishes the public's right to obtain information from federal government agencies, subject to certain exemptions.

  2. What type of information can be requested?

    FOIA requests may be used to obtain "agency records," which include a wide range of documents and other materials (including print, photographic, and electronic formats) that were created or obtained by a Federal agency and are, at the time the request is filed, in the agency's possession and control. You should know that FOIA excludes certain categories of records from disclosure. These exemptions include material related to national security, internal agency rules, proprietary business information, inter- and intra-agency pre-decisional memoranda, and personal privacy.

  3. Can agency records be obtained without filing a FOIA request?

    Yes. Many NEH publications and other regulatory information are routinely made available to the public without the need to make a formal FOIA request. You can also access the most frequently requested documents on this website. In addition, you may review our agency's documents in the Electronic Reading Room.

  4. How do I make a FOIA request?

    You may write to our FOIA officer seeking the agency records you desire. Or you may use our electronic form.

    Your letter should include the following:

    1. Your full name, mailing address, and daytime telephone number.
    2. A statement that the letter is a request under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. Section 552.
    3. A clear and specific description of the information you want. If possible, identify dates, authors, addresses, subjects, or titles of documents sought, and refer to or enclose copies of any published accounts of the requested material (e.g., newspaper or journal articles or government reports).
    4. A request for a waiver of fees, if eligible.
    5. The envelope in which the request is sent should be marked "FOIA" and mailed to:
      National Endowment for the Humanities
      Freedom of Information Act Officer
      400 7th Street SW, 4th Floor
      Washington DC 20506
  5. Fee Schedule for Processing FOIA Requests

    1. Commercial Requestors are charged for duplication, search, review, computer programming, computer run time, and direct costs for special handling, such as express delivery, computer tapes, etc.
    2. News media, educational research institutions, and scientific research institutions are charged for duplication (the first 100 pages are free), computer programming, computer run time, and direct costs for special handling.
    3. Others (including private citizens, nonprofits) are charged for duplication (the first 100 pages are free), search (the first two hours are free), computer programming, computer run time, and direct costs for special handling.
    4. Upon request, fees may be waived if the requestor is able to show that the materials will be used to serve the public at large and are not primarily for personal use.
  6. Am I entitled to a fee waiver?

    • All non-commercial requesters may receive the first two hours of search time and 100 pages of copying free of charge.
    • If your request arises from your affiliation with an educational or noncommercial scientific institution whose purpose is scholarly or scientific research, or if you are a representative of the news media, you are entitled to a waiver of all search and review fees.
    • If the material requested "is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester," all fees, including copying, will be waived.
  7. May I appeal the agency's action on my FOIA request?

    Your appeal should include a description of your request, a copy of your request, and a statement indicating that you are appealing the agency's decision pursuant to 5 U.S.C. Section 552(a)(6). You should also state the grounds for appeal and reasons why the agency's response to the request was improper.

  8. What if I have questions or would like to speak with a FOIA officer?

    Please contact us:

    Office of the General Counsel
    National Endowment for the Humanities
    400 7th Street SW, 4th Floor
    Washington DC 20506
    Telephone: 202-606-8322
    Fax: 202-606-8600
    Email: gencounsel@neh.gov

  9. NEH Index of Systems

    The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) collects information and maintains automated systems which facilitate the use and retention of such information in order to support the agency's business processes. Although the data in the NEH's systems can be, in general, made available to the public, the NEH does not maintain a central administrative function with the sole purpose of distributing program data to the public. However, the agency responds to requests for program data, which are most frequently received as Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

    Major systems include:

    • AUGUSTUS, NEH's Grant/Application system, which includes an Application Control Process, an Application Review Process, and a Grants Management Process;
    • PRISM, an automated system designed to assist the staff in the panel and review processes;
    • The NEH Accounting System;
    • REQUEST, a requisition system used for agency procurement.
    • For information on NEH programs, return to the NEH website: http://www.neh.gov.

    Originator: National Endowment for the Humanities

    Access Constraints: Access constraints vary with each system. However, most systems are accessible only to authorized NEH staff. Information in many of the systems may be exempt from disclosure pursuant to the Privacy Act.