Freedom of Information Act

 Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) generally provides that any person has a right of access to federal agency records, except to the extent that the records are protected from disclosure by any of the nine exemptions contained in the law or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions. Notwithstanding the above protections, the FOIA requires Federal agencies to provide the fullest possible disclosure of information to the public. Administrative and judicial remedies are available to those persons denied access to records.

The agency has received several inquiries seeking the release of the Chairwoman's decision disapproving the Tohono O'odham Nation's ordinance amendment and, because the agency anticipates that the decision will be the subject of numerous FOIA requests, it is posted here.

 
Privacy Act

The Privacy Act of 1974 provides safeguards against unwarranted invasions of privacy through the misuse of records by Federal agencies by restricting disclosure of personally identifiable records maintained by agencies; granting individuals increased rights of access to records maintained about them; granting individuals the right to seek amendment of records maintained about them upon a showing that the records are not accurate, relevant, timely or complete; and establishing a code of "fair information practices" which requires agencies to comply with statutory norms for collection, maintenance, use and dissemination of records.

  

  Making a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request

 

FOIA requests should be submitted in writing to the NIGC either by mail or by fax to the attention of the FOIA Officer at the following address:

 

FOIA Officer National Indian Gaming Commission 90 K Street N.E. Suite 200  Mailstop #1621 Washington, DC 20240 FAX: (202) 632-7066

 

The request letter should include:

 

·         name, address, and telephone number of person making the request

·         a brief description of the records requested

·         agreement to pay fees or request for a fee waiver (see 25 CFR § 517.9 for more information on fee waivers)

·         if requesting expedited processing, documentation that meets the criteria (see 25 CFR § 517.6 (f) for more information on expedited processing)

 

The NIGC has 20 business days to provide an initial response.

 

Making a Privacy Act (PA) Request

Any United States citizen or legal alien may make a PA request for records on themselves.  Requests may be submitted in writing to the NIGC either by mail or by fax to the FOIA/PA Officer at the following address:

FOIA/PA Officer National Indian Gaming Commission 90 K Street, N.E. Suite 200 Mailstop #1621 Washington, DC  20240 FAX: (202) 632-7066

The request letter should include:

·         name, address, signature, daytime telephone number, and certification of identity of requester

·         a brief description of the records requested

The NIGC has 10 business days to provide an initial response.

Certification of Identity

Requesters should include a certification of identity with their PA request.  A certification of identity is verification that the requester is the individual requesting the information and contains the individual’s full name, current address, date and place of birth, and signature.  The signature should be notarized, witnessed by two individuals (including addresses of witnesses), or submitted under 28 U.S.C. § 1746, which is a law that permits statements to be made under penalty of perjury as a substitute of notarization.  Falsification of statements is punishable by a fine or by imprisonment of not more than five years, or both (18 U.S.C. § 1001).  Requesting or obtaining any record(s) under false pretenses is punishable under the provisions of 5 U.S.C. § 552a (i)(3) as a misdemeanor and by a fine of not more than $5,000.

Conditions of Disclosure to Third Parties

The NIGC will not disclose any records involving an individual to a third party except pursuant to a written authorization from the individual identified in the records.  Written authorization should include:

·         a description of the records to be disclosed;

·         the name of the person, firm, or agency to which the records will be disclosed;

·         a statement authorizing the NIGC to release the records;

·         the individual’s signature and date; and

·         certification of identity

 

FOIA Requester Service Center

 

For more information on making a FOIA or PA request or to check on the status of a FOIA or PA request, contact the FOIA Officer at (202) 632-7003.

 

Fees for Processing a FOIA Request

 

The FOIA permits agencies to supply documents without charge or at a reduced rate if the disclosure of the requested information would be in the public interest, and not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.

 

If a requester believes he/she qualifies for a waiver of fees, he/she MUST request a fee waiver. 

 

The requester is not charged for fees under $15.00.

 

Fees for FOIA requesters:

 

Requesters are assigned to one of the following categories for fee assessment:

 

(1) Commercial Requester:

  • Duplication Fee: Charges are based on method of reproduction.
    • Copies: $.15 per page (up to 8½” x 14”).
    • Computer Printouts: Actual cost of the computer printout plus operator time.

  • Search Fee: Charges for search time less than a full hour will be incurred in increments of quarter hours.
    • Manual Search Fee:
      • If done by clerical staff, $4.45 per quarter hour ($17.80 per hour).
      • If done by professional staff, $7.75 per quarter hour ($31.00 per hour).

    • Computer Search Fee: Based on actual direct costs of conducting computer searches, including:
      • (1) Cost of operating the computer for that portion of operating time that is directly attributable to searching for requested records; and
      • (2) Cost of operator’s salary apportionable to the search.
  • Review fee:  Rate is charged only for initial review of applicability of exemptions. No review fee is charged at administrative appeal level of an exemption already applied.
    • If done by clerical staff, $4.45 per quarter hour ($17.80 per hour).
    • If done by professional staff, $7.75 per quarter hour ($31.00 per hour).

 

(2) Educational and Non-Commercial Scientific Institutions:

  •    Duplication Fee: Charges are based on method of reproduction.
    • Copies: No charge for the first one hundred (100) pages of copies.
      • For copies beyond the first one hundred (100) pages, a rate of $.15 per page (up to 8½” x 14”) will be assessed.

    • Computer Printouts: No charge for the first one hundred (100) pages of printouts.
      • For printouts beyond the first one hundred (100) pages, the requester will be charged the actual cost of printouts plus operator time.
              
  • Search and Review Fees:  There are no search and review fees associated with this type of requester.


(3) News Media:

  •   Duplication Fee: Charges are based on method of reproduction.
    •  Copies: No charge for the first one hundred (100) pages of copies.
      • For copies beyond the first one hundred (100) pages, a rate of $.15 per page (up to 8½” x 14”) will be assessed.

    • Computer Printouts: No charge for the first one hundred (100) pages of printouts.
      • For printouts beyond the first one hundred (100) pages, the requester will be charged the actual cost of printouts plus operator time.

         

  • Search and Review Fees:  There are no search and review fees associated with this type of requester.

 

(4) All Other Requesters:

  •   Duplication Fee: Charges are based on method of reproduction.
    •  Copies: No charge for the first one hundred (100) pages of copies.
      • For copies beyond the first one hundred (100) pages, a rate of $.15 per page (up to 8½” x 14”) will be assessed.

    •  Computer Printouts: No charge for the first one hundred (100) pages of printouts.
      • For printouts beyond the first one hundred (100) pages, the requester will be charged the actual cost of printouts plus operator time.
  • Search Fee: No charge for the first two (2) hours of search. After the first two hours, charges depend upon whether the search is done manually or by computer. Charges for search time less than a full hour will be incurred in increments of quarter hours. 
    • Manual Search Fee: 
      • If done by clerical staff, $4.45 per quarter hour ($17.80 per hour).
      • If done by professional staff, $7.75 per quarter hour ($31.00 per hour).

    • Computer Search Fee: Based on actual direct costs of conducting computer searches, including:
      • (1) Cost of operating the computer for that portion of operating time that is directly attributable to searching for requested records; and 
      • (2) Cost of operator’s salary apportionable to the search.

  • Review fee: There are no review fees associated with this type of requester.

 

Appealing a FOIA/PA Nondisclosure Ruling

 

When a FOIA/PA requester is denied access to NIGC records, that initial denial decision may be administratively appealed by writing to:

 

Office of General Counsel (OGC)

National Indian Gaming Commission

90 K Street, N.E.

Suite 200

Mailstop #1621

Washington, DC  20240

Attn:  FOIA/PA Appeals Officer

 

Appeal letters should not only give reasons why the requester is appealing the decision, but also contain as much information and documentation as possible for additional support. The appeal letter should be accompanied by copies of the original request and initial denial letter.  Requester will be advised of the appeals panel decision within 30 business days of receipt of the appeal letter.

 

FOIA appeal letters must be received within 30 business days of the initial denial of access.  

 

PA appeal letters must be received within 180 days of the initial denial of access.

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1441 L. Street NW Suite 9100, Washington DC 20005   Tel.: (202) 632-7003   Fax: (202) 632-7066    Email: info@nigc.gov