Freedom Of Information Act - John D. Dingell VA Medical Center, Detroit, Michigan
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John D. Dingell VA Medical Center, Detroit, Michigan

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Freedom Of Information Act

What is FOIA?

FOIA stands for the Freedom of Information Act. The Act became effective July 4, 1967 but with many amendments, it was finally signed into full effect by President Bush on December 31, 2007.

  • In a memorandum dated January 21, 2009 President Obama instructed that “…FOIA should be administered with a clear presumption: in the face of doubt, openness prevails…”

Who can make a FOIA Request?

Virtually ANYONE can make a FOIA Request!

  • Includes:
    • Private citizens
    • Corporations, associations, partnerships
    • Foreign and domestic governments
    • Unions
    • Other federal employees
  • Exceptions:
    • Federal agencies may not use the FOIA as a means of obtaining information from other federal agencies.
    • Congress may not be denied information on the basis of a FOIA exemption.
    • Fugitives from justice when the requested records relate to the requestor’s fugitive status.
    • Foreign governments when made to intelligence organizations. (Intelligence Authorization Act of 2003)
  • Requests by letter and facsimile:
    • Provides that VA accepts requests via letter and/or facsimile.
    • Eliminates signature requirement generally. However, if the documents being requested involve a personal privacy interest or are protected by another confidentiality statute, the request must contain an image of the requestor’s handwritten signature.
    • Mail to:
      • FOIA Officer 001B, 4646 John R., Detroit, MI. 48201
    • Fax to:
      • 1-313-576-1197
    • Requests by email: Send to vhadetFOIA@va.gov
      • Provides that VA accepts requests submitted by email.
      • If the documents being requested are protected by another confidentiality statute, the request must contain an image of the requestor’s handwritten signature.
      • Emails must be sent to official VA FOIA mailboxes, and not to an individual employee’s mailbox.

    For more information please contact the facility FOIA Officer at vhadetFOIA@va.gov.

    Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

    Mediation is one of the most commonly used ADR processes.

    • The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) was created within the National Archives and Records Administration when OPEN Government Act of 2007 amended the Freedom of Information Act.
    • OGIS began operations in September 2009 and:
      • Provides services to mediate disputes between FOIA requestors and Federal agencies;
      • Reviews policies and procedures of administration agencies under FOIA;
      • Reviews agency compliance with FOIA;
      • Recommends policy changes to the Congress and President to improve the administration of FOIA.
    • For more information regarding the Alternate Dispute Resolution and Mediation process, please to to http://www.va.gov/orm/Mediation/VA_fable.html