Request for Information and the District's Freedom of Information Act
The preamble to the District of Columbia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) states:
The public policy of the District of Columbia is that all persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those who represent them as public officials and employees. D.C. Code § 2-531
Availability of Public Records
The Office of the D.C. Auditor complies with the letter and the spirit of that preamble. Our reports, testimony, quarterly and annual reports and correspondence with the D.C. Council are available on our website.
If you would like information about the Office of the D.C. Auditor or our reports or other information that you believe we can provide, please call Diane Shinn, our Communications Director, at the main phone number, (202-727-3600) or send an email to ODCA.firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be sure to include your name, phone number, date and time you called, and a brief description of your request. We try to return all calls and respond to all emails within 24 hours or by the close of the next business day.
Certain District documents that are frequently requested have been listed in the D.C. Code to confirm their availability without the need for a written request. A description of such information – which includes proposed budgets and names and salaries of government staff -- is contained in D.C. Official Code §2-536.
You may also file a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act -- a law that protects the rights of individuals to have access to public records held by the government.
How to Make a FOIA Request
Anyone may submit a FOIA request. To submit a request, you should determine which public body is likely to maintain the records you are seeking and submit a request to the FOIA Officer of that public body. There is no central FOIA office in the District government and each public agency responds to FOIA requests for its own records. FOIA does not require agencies to do research, to analyze data, to answer written questions, or to create records in order to respond to a request.
A FOIA request should be in writing and may be mailed, faxed or emailed. When submitting your request, please mark the outside of the envelope or the subject line of the fax or email: "Freedom of Information Act Request" or "FOIA Request." Please include a daytime telephone number, email address and mailing address in your request letter so that the FOIA Officer may contact you if necessary. Describe the record(s) you are seeking as clearly as possible. The more specific you are about the records you are seeking, the likelier it is we will be able to locate the records. If your request is vague or too broad, we may ask you to be more specific.
All public bodies are required to respond to an FOIA request within 15 working days (that is, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal public holidays). The response period begins on the date the request is actually received by the FOIA officer. The response time may be extended by an additional 10 working days (again, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal public holidays) for unusual circumstances, as defined by DC Official Code § 2-532(d).
Exemptions from FOIA Disclosure
The FOIA statute provides that certain categories of documents may be withheld from disclosure. Included among these are documents that relate to law-enforcement activities, documents subject to recognized legal privileges such as the attorney-client and work-product privileges, documents required to be withheld by other laws (federal or District), documents that reflect the internal deliberative processes of the government, and documents the disclosure of which would result in a clearly unwarranted intrusion on personal privacy. For a complete list of the exemptions, please see DC Official Code § 2-534.
ODCA FOIA Contact
Office of the District of Columbia Auditor
717 14th Street, N.W. Suite 900
Washington, D.C. 20005
(202) 724-8814 (fax)
Resources for more information on freedom of information and other open government issues:
D.C. Open Government Coalition
P.O. Box 73771
Washington, D.C. 20056