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 FOIA Reading Room, which contains annual FOIA Reports,  Chief FOIA Officer Reports, and other documents that may be of interest to you.

II.      Accessing information on the ABMC Website

Before submitting a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, we suggest that you search the ABMC website (www.abmc.gov).  The information or records you seek may be available here, including in the FOIA Reading Room available via www.abmc.gov/foia.

Learn more about ABMC and other agencies that have relevant information: https://www.abmc.gov/about-us/faqs

Search ABMC Burials and Memorializations: https://www.abmc.gov/database-search

If you can't find what you are looking for, ABMC.gov may not be the right place to search. For example:

  • ABMC does not maintain service records.
  • ABMC does not maintain casualty lists.
  • ABMC does not maintain information on burials within the United States.

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 published in the Federal Register (this information should be obtained in public libraries and other sources outside of ABMC); (2) records available in ABMC’s public reading rooms, such as burial registers and electronic burial databases; and (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.

ABMC—guardian of America’s overseas commemorative cemeteries and memorials—honors the service, achievements and sacrifice of United States armed forces.  You will find records about ABMC's commemorative mission, which  is to:

  • Design, construct, operate and maintain permanent American cemeteries in foreign countries.
  • Establish and maintain U.S. military memorials, monuments and markers where American armed forces have served overseas since April 6, 1917, and within the U.S. when directed by public law.
  • Control the design and construction of permanent U.S. military monuments and markers by other U.S. citizens and organizations, both public and private, and encourage their maintenance.

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, and 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. Alternatively, FOIA requests may be submitted via email to foia@abmc.gov, or online via www.foia.gov.

Where should I send my request?

Your FOIA request should be submitted to:

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

Email: foia@abmc.gov

Online: www.foia.gov

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 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 records will be released in accordance with the FOIA, its exemptions, and ABMC’s FOIA Regulation. Appeal determinations are decided by the Deputy Secretary.

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 or submit it to us.

If you have any questions or wish to discuss reformulation or an alternative time frame for the processing of your request, you may contact the analyst handling your request at foia@abmc.gov, or our FOIA Officer, Monique Ceruti, at:

American Battle Monuments Commission
2300 Clarendon Blvd, Suite 500
Arlington, VA 22201
Telephone: (703) 696-6890
Email: cerutim@abmc.gov

You may also contact the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) of the National Archives and Records Administration to inquire into the FOIA mediation services they provide. OGIS can be contacted at:

Office of Government Information Services
National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740
Email: ogis@nara.gov
Telephone:  (202)741-5770 or toll-free (877) 684-6448
Fax:  (202) 741-5769

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

If you are not satisfied with ABMC’s response to your request, you may administratively appeal by writing to the FOIA Officer at:

American Battle Monuments Commission
Attn: FOIA Officer
2300 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 500
Arlington, VA 22201
Email: foia@abmc.gov

Your appeal must be postmarked or electronically transmitted within ninety days of the date of our response to your request. If you submit your appeal by mail, both the letter and the envelope should be clearly marked “FOIA Appeal.”  If you submit your appeal by email, the subject line should state “FOIA Appeal.”

Additionally, you may contact the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) at the National Archives and Records Administration to inquire about the FOIA mediation services they offer. The contact information for OGIS is:

Office of Government Information Services
National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740
Email: ogis@nara.gov
Telephone: (202)741-5770 or toll-free (877) 684-6448
Fax:  (202) 741-5769

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, External Affairs Directorate: 2300 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 500, Arlington, Virginia. Prior to visiting, please call 703-696-6897 or 703-696-6778.

IV.     Annual Report and Improvement Plan

ABMC’s annual FOIA Report and its Chief FOIA Officer Report can be accessed on the Commission’s Web site at www.abmc.gov.

V.      General Questions

Thank you for your interest in the American Battle Monuments Commission. Our goal is to assist you in every way possible. We welcome your suggestions and recommendations on how to improve our service to you. Submit your ideas or questions to us via mail, telephone or info@abmc.gov.

American Battle Monuments Commission                 Overseas Operations Office
Courthouse Plaza II, Suite 500                                         Unit 9200, Box 1030
2300 Clarendon Boulevard                                               DPO AE 09777-1030
Arlington, VA 22201                                                            +33.(0).1.40.75.27.00
(703) 696-6900