Monday, March 25, 2013

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

DNA Update: 
Ordered – 15 Feb 2013
Kit received by my uncle – 21 Feb 2013
My uncle mailed it back – 22 Feb 2013
Kit received by FTDNA – 28 Feb 2013
12 marker results – 22 Mar 2013 which is earlier than the projected date of 19 Apr 2013
37 marker results estimated to be in – 05 May 2013

I did look at the 12 marker results.  I match up with some other Simmons researchers which is encouraging through I don’t recognize the names they have on file.  I will wait until the 37 marker test is in before I start emailing people.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was mentioned in the The 1973 Fire at the National Personnel Records Center blog post.  Rhonda sent me an email requesting more information about the FOIA.

In a nutshell:

  • This only pertains to records created at the federal level (any federal agency).  Most states have a similar law that govern records created at the state level.  You can find the laws for your state HERE.
  • You must make your request in writing.  Some agencies have a form you can fill out or you can just write a letter. Some agencies allow you to make your request by email.  You need to make sure that you include as much information that you can to assist them in their search.  Here is the FOIA addresses for all of the federal agencies.
  • Each individual agency decides on a fee schedule. Per the FOIA website, “For a typical requester the agency can charge for the time it takes to search for records and for duplication of those records. There is usually no charge for the first two hours of search time or for the first 100 pages of duplication.“  Tell that to the Social Security Administration!  They charge $27.00 for a copy of an SS-5.
  • Records at NARA don’t fall under the FOIA (at least the records genealogists would be interested in don’t).  Since these are archival materials they are available without having to use the FOIA. 
  • It can take anywhere between 2 weeks and 6 months to get a response. Don’t forget that you are dealing with government bureaucracy.  

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

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