Federal Marketing: How to Use FOIA

Posted by Robert Kelly on Apr 8, 2011 1:18:00 PM

Our friends at GovFresh.com brought to our attention the availability of a series of video that the Department of Justice has produced that explains what FOIA is and how to make FOIA requests.

foia federal marketingThe Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) took effect in 1967 and allows anyone to obtain federal agency records (with some exceptions. A FOIA request can be made for any agency record.  Each agency’s website will contain information about the type of records that agency maintains.  For Federal marketing purposes, you can obtain programmatic information and some competitve intelligence.

View the FOIA How-to videos here.

Federal marketers have used FOIA to check an incumbents pricing or viewing the winning contractors proposal after award (losing proposals are exempt, but then again, why would you want to view a losing proposal!). We suggest using FOIA requests judiciously because it can cost you money for copying and can sometimes aggravate potential agency personnel. Some marketers have used FOIA request to obtain names of agency personnel such as contracting offers and program managers.

Some records cannot be released under the FOIA if the release would be harmful to governmental or private interests.   Agencies can use their discretion to release information when there is no foreseeable harm in doing so .  Exempt information is described below.  

Exemption 1: Information that is classified to protect national security. 

Exemption 2: Information that concerns internal agency rules and practices, where release of the information would risk circumvention of the law, or is of no public interest.

Exemption 3: Information that is prohibited from disclosure by another federal law.

Exemption 4: Information that concerns business trade secrets or other confidential commercial or financial information.

Exemption 5: Information that concerns communications within or between agencies which are protected by legal privileges:

  1. Attorney-Work Product Privilege
  2. Attorney-Client Privilege
  3. Deliberative Process Privilege
  4. Presidential Communications Privilege

Exemption 6: Information that, if disclosed, would invade another individual's personal privacy.

Exemption 7: Information compiled for law enforcement purposes if harms would occur. 

Exemption 8: Information that concerns the supervision of financial institutions.

Exemption 9: Geological information on wells.

Topics: Government Marketing, Federal Marketing

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