In order for the Dept. of Defense to comply with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act, AR 25-55 sets out the details of how best to achieve that goal. The regulation describes how the Army can uniformly comply with FOI as it pertains to all types of information systems, be they manual or automated.
The Army created AR 25-55 in response to the legal requirements of the Freedom of Information act. Specifically, when any Army records are released to the public, very stringent procedures and policies must be followed to make certain that data are being released in a legally correct manner. So that every necessary step is taken to release data according to FOIA standards, the Army typically uses a checklist to document that the provisions of the regulation are met.
Within each work unit there should be a designated individual whose responsibility it is to see that FOIA requests are handled properly. Every Army organization is required to have a written program for dealing with public requests for information. It is, however, crucial that the responsible person makes sure that sensitive information is only released in cases where it is not exempt from the Act.
As a general rule, the Army attempts to comply with all requests within 10 working days. However, due to the nature of certain requests, and due to the type of data which is involved, the 10-day rule is sometimes not practical. In those cases, the responsible Army employee should inform the requester about the circumstances.
In fact, the Army’s FOIA Program lists every circumstance in which exceptions apply to the Act. In most cases, American citizens have a right to see federal records. However, a citizen must submit the correct and complete paperwork in order to obtain the records in question. While the Army is legally compelled to comply with FOIA requests that do not fall under an exemption, the U.S. Congress, some parts of the Executive Office of the President, and the federal courts are not covered by FOIA requirements.
FOIA requests to the Army, or any federal agency for that matter, are to consist of applications for information only. The Act is often misunderstood to include requests for research or legal opinions. Citizens who make FOIA requests may only ask for data, not answers, opinions or administrative explanations. AR 25-55 goes into extensive detail about how the Army will fulfill its responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act.
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Author Larry Bell is a professional writer, comedian and automotive enthusiast whose work can be seen at www.myperfectautomobile.com and many other online publications. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the Thunderbird School of Global Management.