FOIA Reference Guide

I. Introduction

This Reference Guide provides suggestions on how to search for or request records and information from the American Battle Monuments Commission, answers frequently asked questions, and describes where you can access ABMC’s annual FOIA Report and FOIA Improvement Plan.

II. Accessing information on the ABMC Website

Before submitting a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, we suggest that you should search the ABMC website (www.abmc.gov), since the information or records you seek may be available here.

III. Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the Freedom of Information Act?

The FOIA provides that any person has a right of access to Federal agency records, except to the extent those records are protected from release by a FOIA exemption or a special law enforcement record exclusion. There are three types of records that the FOIA addresses: (1) records that are published in the Federal Register (this information should be obtained in public libraries and other sources outside of ABMC); (2) records that are available in ABMC’s public reading rooms, such as burial registers and electronic burial databases; (3) all other records that must be requested by submitting a FOIA request.

What are the types of records that can be obtained through FOIA request?

Any record may be obtained through the FOIA, provided that the record is not exempt from release by one of nine FOIA exemptions. In the case of Privacy Act records, you must provide the written permission of the individual whose records you seek. In no instance will the names and/or addresses of next of kin or other family members (including decedents) of the war dead buried or memorialized at ABMC commemorative sites be released under the FOIA, as this information is protected by the Privacy Act.

How can I make a FOIA request to ABMC – do I need to fill out any forms?

ABMC requires that a FOIA request be in writing. The request must reasonably describe the records so that it may be located with a reasonable amount of effort. State your willingness to pay applicable fees or provide justification to support a fee waiver. Please include a daytime telephone number in case we need to contact you. Write “Freedom of Information Act Request” on the envelope. There are no special forms required for submitting a FOIA request to this agency.

Where should I send my request?

Your FOIA request should be submitted to the:

American Battle Monuments Commission
Attn: FOIA Assistant
2300 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 500
Arlington, VA 22201

Upon receipt, your FOIA request will be forwarded to the ABMC office having custody of the record(s) for review and response. Before submitting a FOIA request, please visit ABMC’s Web site at www.abmc.gov, since the information you seek may already be available there.

How does ABMC determine whether or not a record will be released?

The custodian of the records, with the assistance of the FOIA/Privacy Act officers, makes the determination whether the records will be released in accordance with the FOIA, its exemptions, and ABMC’s FOIA Regulation.

How long do I have to wait for a reply from ABMC?

Our policy is to acknowledge your request within 20 work days of receipt. Within 20 work days we will advise you whether or not we have information responsive to your request. If feasible, the information will be released to you at that time. ABMC processes FOIA requests on a first-in, first-out basis, so there may be other requests ahead of yours. The 20-work-day response time begins when the request is received by the Commission, not when you mail it to us.

If I don’t agree with the response, what are my rights?

If your request is denied or you do not agree with any decision regarding the release of records that you requested you may appeal to ABMC in writing to the:

American Battle Monuments Commission
Attn: FOIA Officer
2300 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 500
Arlington, VA 22201

Where is the Commission’s Freedom of Information Act Reading Room?

The Reading Room is located in the offices of the American Battle Monuments Commission, Public Affairs Directorate, 2300 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 500, in Arlington, Virginia. Prior to visiting, please call 703-696-6897 or 703-696-6778.

IV. Annual Report and Improvement Plan

ABMC’s annual FOIA Reports and its FOIA Improvement Plan can be accessed on this website.