How do I request information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?

There are several ways to submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request:

  • Submit a request through the National FOIA Portal.

  • Use the Department of the Interior’s FOIA Request Form.

  • Email your request to foia@usgs.gov. Put “Freedom of Information Act Request” in the subject line.

  • Write a letter to the USGS FOIA Office using one of the addresses listed on the USGS FOIA Connect page . Mark your letter and the envelope as “Freedom of Information Act Request.”

Electronic submissions are preferred (the first three options). If you choose to submit a request electronically, do not follow-up with a written letter.

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What USGS products are already publicly available?

As the Nation’s largest water, earth, and biological science and civilian mapping agency, we have numerous types of products. Most of these--including data, tools, maps, and publications--are publicly available through our website. Almost all digital materials can be downloaded at no cost to the public. For information about the availability of...

What information should I include in my Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request?

While you are not required to give a reason for your request, you should be as specific as possible when describing the records that you seek. That will produce faster and better results. Phrases like “any and all” can significantly delay the processing time and potentially increase your processing fee. Prior to submitting your request, we suggest...

Is there a cost for obtaining federal records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?

By law, the USGS is authorized to charge Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) processing fees to requesters in order to recover the direct costs of search, review, and duplication of requested records. The fees depend on the requester category into which you fall. If the total costs of supplying the requested information is less than $50, the USGS...

How long will it take to process my Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request?

The USGS uses a multi-track processing system. We distinguish simple requests from more complex ones based on the estimated number of workdays needed to process the request. Factors include the number of pages involved in processing the request and the need for consultations with other federal agencies. Requests within each track are processed and...

Can I ask that any Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) processing fees be waived?

Yes, you can request a waiver of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) processing fees. Under the FOIA, fee waivers are limited to situations in which a requester can show that the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations and activities...

How do I check the status of my U.S. Geological Survey Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request?

Check the status of your FOIA request using the Department of the Interior’s Track Your FOIA Request webpage. Additionally, you can check the status of your FOIA request (This is only for information from the U.S. Geological Survey) by contacting the USGS FOIA office using any of the following methods: Email: foia@usgs.gov Mail: P.O. Box 411, Bel...

What information/data is NOT covered by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?

Information/data that is NOT covered by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) includes: Non-agency records and personal records. Public requests for access to physical artifacts or scientific samples (e.g. core samples, sediment, rocks, fossils, specimen samples, blood samples). Access to some samples can be arranged through our laboratories...

What can I do if I cannot find a publication in the USGS Publications Warehouse?

If you can't find a known publication in our USGS Publications Warehouse , first try contacting the Publications Warehouse Team . If a print copy is readily available to them, they’re sometimes able to scan it and post it online for free download within a few days. If that doesn’t work, chances are good that the publication can be requested...

What is the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?

Since 1967, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has provided the public the right to request access to records from any federal agency. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government. Federal agencies are required to disclose any information requested under the FOIA unless it falls under one of nine...
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Image: Records Preservation
April 9, 2009

Records Preservation

Older materials and recently arrived items in the Field Records Collection are in various states of preservation and documentation. In the current reorganization project, items are inventoried for content, transferred to archival storage containers, and archived as shelf items (notebooks and file folders), flat files (maps and diagrams), or in rolls (large-format maps and

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Image: Treasures of the USGS Library: Rare Book Room
November 12, 2009

Treasures of the USGS Library: Rare Book Room

The USGS Library contains a collection of rare books including those featured in this gallery. The collections housed in Reston, Virginia are closed and are available for use by appointment only.

Image: On File at the Field Records Collection
April 1, 2008

On File at the Field Records Collection

The Field Records Collection in Denver houses materials generated from nearly 130 years of scientific investigations by more than 1200 scientists. The Denver Library, Field Records Collection includes approximately 24,000 notebooks (pictured) and files, 6000 map groups, and 80,000 aerial photographs Materials are stored in various vertical files, rolling files, map files,

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sample storage
June 30, 2016

National Geochemical Sample Archive

USGS National Geochemical Sample Archive in Denver, Colorado.

Image: New Accessions Arriving at Field Records
April 1, 2008

New Accessions Arriving at Field Records

Materials arrive from across the country to be accessioned and processed at the Denver Library, Field Records Collection. Geologic Discipline scientists are encouraged to deposit their project materials and with the Field Records Collection. Materials in the collection are managed as Federal records to ensure ongoing access in perpetuity for future researchers.

Graphic - Archives
April 3, 2018

Graphic - Archives

Graphic - Archive

USGS
April 5, 2011

Treasures of the USGS Library

Since its creation in 1882, the USGS Library has grown to become the world's largest library dedicated to earth and natural sciences, holding more than 1.5 million volumes and 800,000 maps. Richard Huffine, Director of the USGS Libraries Program, will highlight some of the rarest, most valuable, and significant materials held by the USGS. These include early maps of