The process for making a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request is neither complicated nor time-consuming. Following these guidelines will make it more likely that you will receive the information you are seeking in the shortest amount of time.
The Freedom of Information Act, which can be found in Title 5 of the United States Code, section 552, was enacted in 1966 and provides that any person has the right to request access to federal agency records or information. All agencies of the United States government are required to disclose records upon receiving a written request for them, except for those records that are protected from disclosure by the nine exemptions and three exclusions of the FOIA. This right of access is enforceable in court. The federal FOIA does not, however, provide a right of access to records held by state or local government agencies, or by private businesses or individuals. All states have their own statutes governing public access to state and local records and state authorities should be consulted for further information about them.
There is no central office in the government which processes FOIA requests for all federal agencies. Each agency responds to requests for its own records. Therefore, before sending a request to the FLRA, you should determine whether this agency is likely to have the records you are seeking. Every federal department or agency either already has or will soon issue its own information guide, so if the records you are interested in are kept by another agency, you may wish to request a copy of that agency's Guide from its FOIA office.
The formal rules for making FOIA requests to the FLRA are set forth in Chapter XIV of Volume 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations. This multiple-volume set is available in all law libraries and federal depository libraries. A copy of the portions of Chapter XIV pertaining to making FOIA requests may be obtained from the Office of the Solicitor, Federal Labor Relations Authority, 1400 K Street, NW, Washington, DC. 20424.
Access to Certain Records Without a FOIA Request
Before making a request, first look to see if the information you are interested in is already publicly available. You can find a lot of useful information on a range of topics on the FLRA's website. You can also find additional information about other agencies online at FOIA.gov. If the information you want is not publicly available, you can submit a FOIA request to the relevant FLRA component. The request simply must be in writing and reasonably describe the records you seek. You can also submit the request electronically via FOIAonline.
Certain types of FLRA records are available without the need to make a FOIA request. They include: (1) final opinions and orders made in adjudicating cases; (2) final statements of policy and interpretations which have not been published in the Federal Register; (3) administrative staff manuals and instructions to staff that affect a member of the public; (4) copies of records that have been the subject of a FOIA request and that are of sufficient public interest or curiosity that the agency believes other persons are likely to request them; and (5) the agency's annual FOIA report to Congress--which includes such information as the number of requests received by the agency, the amount of time taken to process requests, the total amount of fees collected by the agency, information regarding the backlog of pending requests, and other information about the agency's handling of FOIA requests. These types of records may be inspected in the FLRA's reading room, which is located in the FLRA's Headquarters Library at 1400 K Street, NW, Washington, DC. 20424.