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USGS Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Office

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a Federal statute which allows individuals to request access to federal agency records, except to the extent records are claimed as exempt from disclosure under one or more of the nine (9) exemptions of the FOIA.


The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) offices in the bureaus/offices of the Department of the Interior are continuing to process FOIA requests to the best of their ability during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To keep employees healthy and safe, the Department is maximizing telework flexibility and employing social distancing protocols.  As a result of these precautions, most employees are working remotely and unable to collect hard copy records located in government facilities at this time.  If your request is for hard copy records, the response to your request will very likely be delayed.    

In addition, employees may not receive FOIA requests that are sent by U.S. mail, overnight mail services, or facsimile in a timely manner.  We recommend, therefore, that requesters submit requests through the government-wide portal at


The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552, as amended, is based on the principle of openness in government and generally provides that any person has a right, enforceable in court, of access to Federal agency records, except to the extent that such records (or portions thereof) are protected from disclosure by one of nine exemptions or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions. Under the spirit and provisions of the FOIA, Federal agencies are to make their records available to the public to the greatest extent possible.

Any individual, public or private organization/corporation, or foreign country may submit FOIA requests for a copy of U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) records. The request must: (1) be in writing (letter or either the DOI request form or the National FOIA Portal) or (2) reasonably describe the records sought; and (3) indicate a willingness to pay fees, (specify the amount they are willing to pay) or ask for a fee waiver.

Prior to submitting a FOIA request, research your subject and locate the appropriate Mission AreaRegion, and Science Center(s) that may possess the records that you are seeking.

If mailing a request, please mail your request to any one of the FOIA Team members listed on the Connect page.  You do not need to email a request and mail a paper copy to us, submitting a request by one of the available methods is sufficient.