FOIA & Privacy Act

  1. INTRODUCTION
  2. WHAT IS THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT?
  3. HOW DO I SUBMIT A FOIA REQUEST?
  4. WHAT DSS INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE UNDER THE FOIA?
  5. WHAT DSS INFORMATION MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE UNDER THE FOIA?
  6. HOW MAY I APPEAL IF MY FOIA REQUEST FOR INFORMATION IS DENIED?
  7. IS THERE A FEE CHARGED FOR OBTAINING INFORMATION UNDER THE FOIA?
  8. ELECTRONIC READING ROOM
  9. MANDATORY DECLASSIFICATION REVIEW (MDR)

1. INTRODUCTION

The Defense Security Service (DSS), Office of FOIA and Privacy, is located at DSS Headquarters, 27130 Telegraph Rd., Quantico, VA 22134. The program office is responsible for administering policies, programs, and procedures to ensure DSS compliance with the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. 552 and 5 U.S.C. 552a, respectively.

For FOIA requesters seeking status updates and information about requests which were sent to the 27130 Telegraph Rd., Quantico, VA 22134 address, the initial point of contact can be reached by calling 571-305-6740 or emailing . Requesters who wish to raise concerns about the service received from the DSS Office of FOIA and Privacy can contact the DSS FOIA Public Liaison by faxing their concern to 571-305-6931 or 571-305-6925 or emailing . Please understand that the DSS Public Liaison can only address concerns about the service received from the Office of FOIA and Privacy, not the specific status of an individual's FOIA or Privacy Act request.

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2. WHAT IS THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT (FOIA)?

Enacted in 1966; amended in 1974, 1986, and 1996, the FOIA provides a universal right, enforceable in court, of access to Federal agency records, except to the extent that such records (or portions thereof) are protected from disclosure by one of nine FOIA exemptions or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions.

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3. HOW DO I SUBMIT A FOIA REQUEST?

Individuals seeking access to DSS information under the FOIA, should address written inquiries to: Defense Security Service (DSS), Office of FOIA and Privacy, 27130 Telegraph Rd., Quantico, VA 22134. Written inquiries can also be emailed to DSS at or by facsimile (FAX) to 571-305-6931, address to Leslie Blake.

Written requests for DSS records may be made by any member of the public (U.S. or foreign citizen), an organization, or business, but not including a Federal agency or a fugitive from the law. All written inquiries for access to DSS records must reasonably describe the records being sought and the record requested must exist and be controlled by DSS at the time of the request. There is no obligation for DSS to create or compile a record to satisfy a FOIA request.

Since not all requesters are knowledgeable of the appropriate statutory authority (FOIA or PA) to cite when requesting records, the following guidelines are provided for your information:

  1. Requesters who are seeking records about themselves should cite the Privacy Act.
  2. Requesters who seek access to DSS records which are not background investigations or security clearance related should cite FOIA and address inquiries to DSS, Office of FOIA and Privacy, Attn: Leslie Blake, 27130 Telegraph Rd., Quantico, VA 22134.
  3. Requesters who seek access to agency Administrative/Operations materials (e.g., manuals, forms, DSS Policy, DSS Regulations, inspection reports, etc.) should cite the FOIA and address inquiries to address in item b. above.
  4. Requesters who have been denied access to documents or wish to have documents amended should address inquiries to address in item c. above.

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4. WHAT DSS INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE UNDER THE FOIA?

DSS has published in the Federal Register at: http://www.nara.gov, its procedural regulations governing access to it records under the FOIA. These regulations also address the types of records that are maintained. Material from the Register which can be accessed from this site are divided into three categories: Personnel Security, Industrial Security, and Education and Training. These three areas may also contain information which DSS routinely releases under the FOIA. Additional records/information as published in the Federal Register, which are not accessed via this site are not routinely released by DSS, are considered for release on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration any information exempt from release by the FOIA or PA.

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5. WHAT DSS INFORMATION MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE UNDER THE FOIA?

As a general rule, the following types of DSS may possibly be withheld in whole or in part from public disclosure under the FOIA, unless otherwise prescribed by law:

  1. DSS records that are properly and currently classified in the interest of national defense or foreign policy;
  2. DSS records related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of the agency or its internal Components;
  3. DSS records specifically exempted from disclosure by statute (Reference DOD FOIA homepage);
  4. DSS records containing trade secrets or commercial or financial information that DSS receives from a person or organization outside the Government with the understanding that the information and/or record will be retained on a privileged or confidential basis;
  5. DSS inter-agency or intra-agency communications. Example: various forms of communication between or within the agency that are deliberative in nature and are a part of a decision making process;
  6. DSS personnel and medical files and/or records and similar files and/or records, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy; and
  7. DSS investigative files/records compiled for law enforcement purposes which (a) could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings, (b) would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication, (c) could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, (d) could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source, (e) would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law, or (f) could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual.

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6. HOW MAY I APPEAL IF MY FOIA REQUEST FOR INFORMATION IS DENIED?

If the DSS Office of FOIA and Privacy declines to provide a requested record because the official considers it exempt from release, that decision may be appealed by the requester in writing, to the Director, DSS, who is the appellate authority for the agency. The appeal should be accompanied by a copy of the letter denying the initial request and should also contain the primary basis of disagreement with the initial refusal. Please be aware that the Director of DSS is the final appeal authority for the agency. If the Director's decision is to deny an appeal, the requester may bring suit in the United States District Court, in the district where the requester resides, in the requester's place of business, in the district in which the record is located or in the District of Columbia.

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7. IS THERE A FEE CHARGED FOR OBTAINING INFORMATION UNDER THE FOIA?

In some cases, DSS will charge a fee in connection with providing information to the public. This generally occurs when we receive a request for documents for commercial use (one who seeks information for use or purpose that furthers the commercial, trade, or profit interest of the requester) or when our search time exceeds 2 hours. In accordance with the FOIA, we can also charge for duplications of documents if they exceed one hundred pages and for computer searches which exceed 2 hours.

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8. DSS ELECTRONIC READING ROOM

5 U.S.C. § 552 (a) (2) (A) Records – Final opinions and orders made in the adjudication of cases that may be cited, used, or relied upon as precedents in future adjudications.

5 U.S.C. § 552 (a) (2) (B) Records – Statements of policy and interpretations that have been adopted by the agency and are not published in the Federal Register.

  • Reference "DSS Regulations" in the Electronic Reading Room

5 U.S.C. § 552 (a) (2) (C) Records – Administrative staff manuals and instructions, or portions thereof, that establish DoD policy or interpretations of policy that affect the public.

  • No documents currently available at this time

5 U.S.C. § 552 (a) (2) (D) Records – Records released to the public, under the FOIA, that are or will likely become the subject of subsequent requests.

Click here to Access Additional DSS Reading Material

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9. MANDATORY DECLASSIFICATION REVIEW (MDR)

MDR is a mechanism through which the public can request declassification review of classified records, regardless of age or origin, subject to certain limitations set forth in Executive Order (E.O.) 12958, as amended, "Classified National Security Information". MDR requests for the Defense Security Service (DSS) classified records must be in writing and state that the request is a MDR request under section 3.5 of E.O. 12958, as amended. The request must describe the document(s) with sufficient specificity to enable the agency to locate it with a reasonable amount of effort. For DSS originated records, submit the MDR request to:

DSS Declassification Activity
Office of FOIA/PA
27130 Telegraph Rd.
Quantico, VA 22134

The requester should receive a response from the agency within one year of the request; otherwise the requester has the right to file an appeal with the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP). Reference: http://www.archives.gov/isoo/oversight - groups/iscap/. If the agency (DSS) denies the initial request, it must notify the requester of the right to file an administrative appeal and provide the address to which the appeal should be sent. MDR appeals must first be administratively appealed with the denying agency before filing an appeal with ISCAP. Appeals for a denial from the DSS can be sent to the address identified above. For records held by other Agencies, see the list in the Federal Register indicating to which person or office the MDR request should be submitted (http://www.archives.gov/isoo/contact/mdr-contact.html).

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