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About USGS

The USGS is the Nation's largest water, earth, and biological science and civilian mapping agency. We provide science about natural resource conditions and problems.

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Can the USGS do a survey or study of my private property?

No. The USGS Organic Act (43 U.S. Code § 31) prohibits the USGS from making surveys or examinations for private parties or corporations. On rare occasion, however, the USGS might request access to private property as part of a larger study. If you need to engage a professional land surveyor, hydrologist, geologist, or geotechnical engineer, the following organizations should be able to identify...

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Can the USGS do a survey or study of my private property?

No. The USGS Organic Act (43 U.S. Code § 31) prohibits the USGS from making surveys or examinations for private parties or corporations. On rare occasion, however, the USGS might request access to private property as part of a larger study. If you need to engage a professional land surveyor, hydrologist, geologist, or geotechnical engineer, the following organizations should be able to identify...

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What does the USGS (United States Geological Survey) do?

The USGS (United States Geological Survey) is a science bureau within the United States Department of the Interior . The USGS provides science about the natural hazards that threaten lives and livelihoods; the water, energy, minerals, and other natural resources we rely on; the health of our ecosystems and environment; and the impacts of climate and land-use change. Our scientists develop new...

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What does the USGS (United States Geological Survey) do?

The USGS (United States Geological Survey) is a science bureau within the United States Department of the Interior . The USGS provides science about the natural hazards that threaten lives and livelihoods; the water, energy, minerals, and other natural resources we rely on; the health of our ecosystems and environment; and the impacts of climate and land-use change. Our scientists develop new...

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When should I use a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to request information?

All USGS products and publications are in the public domain. Most are readily available for free download on our websites. Before launching a potentially time-consuming Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, make sure that the information you need cannot be easily obtained by immediate means. Visit the USGS website , explore our FOIA Reading Room (with links to oft-requested documents), or...

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When should I use a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to request information?

All USGS products and publications are in the public domain. Most are readily available for free download on our websites. Before launching a potentially time-consuming Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, make sure that the information you need cannot be easily obtained by immediate means. Visit the USGS website , explore our FOIA Reading Room (with links to oft-requested documents), or...

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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 Public Access Link (account required). 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.”...

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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 Public Access Link (account required). 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.”...

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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 USGS science, products and data contact USGS Science Information Services...

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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 USGS science, products and data contact USGS Science Information Services...

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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 that you: Check the USGS website and/or contact...

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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 that you: Check the USGS website and/or contact...

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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 of the government and is not primarily in the...

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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 of the government and is not primarily in the...

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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 responded to on a first-in/first-out basis...

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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 responded to on a first-in/first-out basis...

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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 dollars, the USGS will waive any applicable FOIA processing fees...

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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 dollars, the USGS will waive any applicable FOIA processing fees...

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Is a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request confidential? Does my identity impact the results?

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests are not confidential. Once a FOIA request is received, it becomes a public record of the USGS. If the request contains personally identifying information or the request is deemed “sensitive,” we may redact information under FOIA Exemption 6 (personal privacy). The identity of the FOIA requester does not have any bearing on the outcome of the FOIA request...

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Is a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request confidential? Does my identity impact the results?

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests are not confidential. Once a FOIA request is received, it becomes a public record of the USGS. If the request contains personally identifying information or the request is deemed “sensitive,” we may redact information under FOIA Exemption 6 (personal privacy). The identity of the FOIA requester does not have any bearing on the outcome of the FOIA request...

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Does the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) cover contract-related requests?

Yes, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) covers contract-related requests. Prior to submitting your request, check USAspending.gov to determine what information about the contract is already publicly available. If you decide to submit a FOIA request, please provide the award ID number or the name of the awardee so that we can quickly search for the record(s). If you are a contractor who wants to...

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Does the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) cover contract-related requests?

Yes, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) covers contract-related requests. Prior to submitting your request, check USAspending.gov to determine what information about the contract is already publicly available. If you decide to submit a FOIA request, please provide the award ID number or the name of the awardee so that we can quickly search for the record(s). If you are a contractor who wants to...

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Why does the USGS invoke Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Exemption 5 (deliberative process privilege)?

FOIA Exemption 5 (deliberative process privilege) applies to inter-agency or intra-agency records where, for instance, there is a work product that is in draft format or documents that contain deliberations between parties leading up to a decision (including what to publish or not to publish in one of our products). The purpose of the privilege is to: Encourage open, frank discussions on matters...

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Why does the USGS invoke Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Exemption 5 (deliberative process privilege)?

FOIA Exemption 5 (deliberative process privilege) applies to inter-agency or intra-agency records where, for instance, there is a work product that is in draft format or documents that contain deliberations between parties leading up to a decision (including what to publish or not to publish in one of our products). The purpose of the privilege is to: Encourage open, frank discussions on matters...

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