The Freedom of Information Act: A Guide to Requesting NEH Records
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Endowment for the Humanities has adjusted its normal operations in order to complete its mission as effectively and efficiently as possible while also ensuring the safety of its staff. As a result, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement and/or a substantive response to your FOIA request or appeal. We will be able to acknowledge requests submitted electronically more quickly than those submitted by postal mail. You may contact NEH’s FOIA Requestor Service Center or its FOIA Public Liaison with any questions about your request. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience during this time.
- What is the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?
- What type of information can be requested?
- Can agency records be obtained without filing a FOIA request?
- How do I make a FOIA request?
- FOIA Fee Schedule
- Am I entitled to a fee waiver?
- May I appeal the agency's action on my FOIA request?
- What if I have questions or would like to speak with a FOIA officer?
- Reference Material: NEH Index of Systems
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.
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.
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 FOIA Library.
How do I make a FOIA request?
You may submit a FOIA request for NEH records via the agency's electronic form or the central FOIA portal at https://www.foia.gov/.
Alternatively, the mailing address for FOIA requests to NEH is:
National Endowment for the Humanities
Freedom of Information Act Officer
400 7th Street, SW, 4th Floor
Washington, DC 20506
Please note: Because FOIA requests submitted by postal mail may be delayed in transit, we strongly encourage you to submit your request electronically (by email, the NEH electronic FOIA submission form, or the DOJ FOIA portal).
However you submit your request, please be sure to include the following:
- Your full name, mailing address, and daytime telephone number.
- A description of the records you are seeking. Please be as specific as possible – the more information you provide, the more likely it is that NEH will be able to locate the records. If possible, identify dates, authors, addresses, subjects, or titles of the records you would like.
- A request for a waiver of fees, if eligible.
Fee Schedule for Processing FOIA Requests
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Am I entitled to a fee waiver?
In certain cases, NEH may grant a fee waiver request:
- 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," NEH will waive all fees, including copying.
May I appeal the agency's action on my FOIA request?
Yes. Your appeal letter should clearly identify the tracking number of your FOIA request, the NEH decision you are appealing, and include 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. Please clearly mark your appeal letter and envelop or e-mail subject, “FOIA Appeal.”
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
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:
- eGMS, 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.