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Freedom of Information Act

Submitting a FOIA Request

A FOIA request is the means by which an individual seeks records of an agency. A proper FOIA request should be as specific as possible to ensure an accurate and focused search for responsive material. A request that does not reasonably describe records cannot be processed, and the requester will be asked to clarify the subject of the request. In addition, a requester may be assessed fees for the processing of a request in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552(4)(A)(ii) and Department of Defense Manual 5400.07 . A proper FOIA request must include willingness to pay fees.

Please note: The FOIA does not require government agencies to answer substantive questions or create records to respond to a request.

There are three convenient ways to submit a FOIA request:

  • Electronically: FOIA.gov 
  • By postal service or other commercial delivery:
    National Reconnaissance Office
    Attn: COMM/Information Review and Release Group
    14675 Lee Road
    Chantilly, VA 20151-1715
  • By fax: 703-227-9198

If you plan to submit directly to the NRO, your request letter (see letter template ) must include:

  • A statement that you are making a FOIA request;
  • A description of the specific records you are requesting in enough detail that they can be located with a reasonable amount of effort. Generally, a record is adequately described when the description contains sufficient file-related information (type of document, title, subject area, date of creation, originator, etc); or the request contains enough event-related information (date and circumstances surrounding the event the record covers) to permit the conduct of an organized search; and
  • A statement of your willingness to pay applicable fees. Requests for fee waivers must include a justification.

Average Processing Time - It is difficult to provide an "average" processing time, as requests vary in their scope and complexity. Actual processing time will depend upon:

  • how extensive a search is required;
  • the complexity, volume and sensitivity of the records located;
  • the need for consultation among various offices within the NRO;
  • the need to consult with other entities having an equity in the material; and
  • the number of cases preceding a request in the processing queue.

Requests are processed on a "first-in, first-out" basis, based on the origination date of the request.

Expedited Processing - A request will be expedited if the requester seeks such processing and demonstrates a compelling need, as defined by the FOIA, or a need for expedited treatment, as detailed in Department of Defense Manual 5400.07 .

To check the status of a request, please contact the NRO FOIA Requester Service Center at (703) 227-9326.

For any additional questions, please see FOIA.gov Frequently Asked Questions.