Freedom of Information Act

Introduction

Under the District of Columbia Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, DC Official Code §§ 2-531 et seq., any person has the right to request access to public records.  All public bodies of the District government are required to disclose public records, except for those records or portions of records, that are protected from disclosure by the exemptions found in DC Official Code § 2-534.

A FOIA request can be made for any public record. This does not mean, however, that the public body will disclose every record sought. Statutory exemptions authorize the withholding of certain public records.  When the public body withholds records or portions of records, it must specify which exemption of the FOIA permits the withholding. FOIA does not require agencies to conduct research, analyze data, answer written questions, or create records in order to respond to a request.

The Freedom of Information Act Requests

How to Make a Request

Anyone may submit a FOIA request. There is no central FOIA office in the District government. Each agency responds to requests for its own records. To submit a request, you should determine which agency is likely to maintain the records you are seeking and submit a request to the FOIA Officer of that agency. Please refer to the FOIA Officer list for contact information.

  • A FOIA request should be in writing and should be mailed, faxed, or e-mailed.
  • 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, or 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 and precisely as possible. In your description, please be as specific as possible with regard to names, dates, places, events, subjects, and other pertinent details that will help the public body to identify the records. The more specific you are about the records you are seeking, the more likely the public body will be able to locate those records. If your request is vague or too broad, we may ask you to be more specific, and this may delay the processing of your request.
Commission FOIA Officer

The General Counsel is the FOIA Officer for the Public Service Commission and is the principal point of contact within the Public Service Commission for advice and policy guidance on matters pertaining to the administration of the FOIA. In addition, the FOIA Case Manager is available to assist in responding to all FOIA requests. All requests are handled professionally and expeditiously.

Pursuant to Title 1 D.C.M.R. § 1-402, FOIA requests may be made orally or in writing. However, the Commission may require any oral request to be reduced to writing and submitted to the Commission Secretary’s Office for expeditious review. Written requests that are submitted via mail shall prominently indicate "FOIA Request" on the envelope and written requests submitted via electronic mail shall indicate “FOIA Request” in the subject line. Both mailed and electronically mailed FOIA requests shall be sent to the Commission Secretary’s Office for docketing and processing. After the FOIA request has been docketed, the FOIA Officer and FOIA Case Manager will be notified.

In accordance with 15 D.C.M.R. § 705, the Commission may charge fees for services rendered responding to a FOIA request, including but not limited to, $1.50 per hour spent searching for records (not to exceed $10.00 for each request) and $0.15 per page for the reproduction of documents.

For more information on how to file an FOIA request, visit Freedom of Information Act.

Commission Secretary’s Office

1325 G Street, NW, Suite 800,
Washington, DC 20005
psc-commissionsecretary@dc.gov
202-626-5150

FOIA Case Manager

Sanford Speight
Attorney Advisor

FOIA Officer

Christopher Lipscombe
Interim General Counsel

Response Time

All agencies are required to respond to a 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 of the public body that maintains the records you are requesting. Public bodies may extend the time for a response 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.

Fees and Waiver of Fees

There is no initial fee for submitting a FOIA request. However, an agency may charge fees for searching, reviewing, and reproducing records as provided in 1 DCMR § 408. You may include in your request letter a specific statement limiting the amount of fees you are willing to pay.  Please be aware that you may have to pay search and/or review fees even if the search does not locate any responsive records or if records are located but are withheld as exempt.

You may request a waiver or reduction of fees in your request letter. You must include a statement describing how the requested records will be used to benefit the general public.  Pursuant to DC Official Code § 2-532(b), if the public body determines that a waiver or fee reduction is in the public interest, i.e., furnishing the records primarily benefits the general public, a waiver or reduction may be granted.

Appeals or Judicial Review

You may file an administrative appeal or seek judicial review if you are dissatisfied with an agency's response to your request.

Administrative Appeals

An administrative appeal is submitted to the Mayor. The appeal must be in writing and must include a copy of the original request as well as a copy of the public body's written denial letter issued to you, if any. In addition, the appeal must include a written statement of the arguments, circumstances, or reasons in support of the information sought by your request. The appeal letter must include "Freedom of Information Act Appeal" or "FOIA Appeal" in the subject line of the letter as well as marked on the outside of the envelope. You may direct a written appeal to:

Mayor’s Correspondence Unit
FOIA Appeal
1350 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Suite 221
Washington, DC 20004

A copy of the appeal must be provided to the public body whose denial you are appealing. The appeal must be addressed to the public body’s FOIA Officer.

Judicial Review

Please refer to the District of Columbia Superior Court rules concerning procedures for filing a civil action.

The information contained on this webpage is provided as a helpful summary of the DC FOIA. Please refer to the FOIA statute at DC Official Code §§ 2-531 et seq. and the FOIA regulations at 1 DCMR §§ 400 et seq. for additional information.