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Freedom of Information Act

About FOIA - Definition of the Freedom of Information Act

The FOIA generally provides that any person has a reight, 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 the nine exemptions. For further information, see the FOIA Handbook.

NRO and the FOIA

The goal of the FOIA office (IRRG) at the NRO is to release as much information as possible, consistent with the need to protect classified and sensitive information under the exemption provisions of the law. Where discretionary releases can be made without causing harm, the Chief of the IRRG, as the Initial Denial Authority, and the Chief Information Officer, as the Appeal Authority, use their discretion to release information even where an exemption may be available. The FOIA exemptions used by the NRO to protect information are exemptions one through seven. The eighth and ninth exemptions do not pertain to the mission and functions of the NRO.

Because of the sensitivity of NRO's functions and activities, the most often cited exemptions are (b)(1) (national security information) and (b)(3) (exemption by statute). The statutes most often applied to the protection of information are the following:

  • 10 U.S.C. § 424 which states: "Except as required by the President or as provided in subsection (c), no provision of law shall be construed to require the disclosure of (1) The organziation or any function ...(2)... number of persons employed by or assigned or detailed to any such organization or the name, official title, occupational series, grade, or salary of any such person ...(b) Covered Organizations ... the National Reconnaissance Office";
  • 50 U.S.C. § 432a, which exempts operational files of the NRO from the publication, disclosure, search and review provisions of the FOIA.