The Freedom of Information Act or FOIA allows people to petition the Department of Justice or DOJ for records in the DOJ’s possession that the person requesting the information needs. Less well known is that the FOIA allows access to records kept just by the DOJ and is not a blanket access to information held by any other agency or governing body in the Federal government or by State governments.
The procedure that must be followed to comply with the FOIA by petitioners is as follows:
To make a request for records from the Department of Justice, the procedure is if you are requesting information about yourself or if you are requesting information about another person, you should include your identifying information or the other person’s signed authorization or a death certificate and send your petition to the FOIA office whose address can be found in the phone book or online. You should not send your information to the FBI or to the INS as your direct contact for access to records is the FOIA itself.
The FOIA will contact you with information regarding your request or may field your request to the FBI or to the INS if that is where your information is being kept.
If you are new at contacting Federal agencies, a manual titled “United States Government Manual” is available at almost all main libraries and can also be bought by contacting the Government Printing Office’s Superintendent of Documents. The manual is also available onlne at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su–docs. If you are looking for a general address to send your request for records, that address is FOIA/PA Mail Referral Unit, Justice Management Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. Washington D.C. 20530-0001. Your envelope should be marked with “Freedom of Information Act Request” for speedier delivery and action.