Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
***As a result of COVID-19, NRO's timely processing of new and existing Freedom of Information Act, Privacy Act, Mandatory Declassification Review, or Prepublication Review requests will be significantly affected.***
The FOIA generally provides that any person (with the exception of another federal agency, a fugitive from the law, or a representative of a foreign government) has the right, enforceable in court, to request access to federal agency records, except to the extent that such records (or portions thereof) are protected from disclosure by one of nine exemptions. As part of the Agency's compliance with the Electronic FOIA (E-FOIA) requirements, the NRO posts FOIA information that will inform the public of NRO missions and functions. For information on how to submit a FOIA request, please refer to FOIA.gov.
The Information Review and Release Group (IRRG) administers the NRO’s FOIA program. The goal of the FOIA program 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 Appellate Authority, use their discretion to release information even where an exemption may be available.
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 organization 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.
FOIA Request Process
NRO Annual Reports
Privacy Act (PA)
The Privacy Act (PA) protects an individual's privacy by putting controls on federal agencies in the collection, use, maintenance, and dissemination of personal information. In addition, it entitles individuals to access federal agency records or to request an amendment to records that are maintained in a file retrievable by an individual's name or personal identifier, except to the extent that the information is exempt from release. An individual, in the context of the PA, is defined as a U.S. citizen or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence.
The PA also requires that agency records be accurate, relevant, timely, and complete, and amendments are limited to these criteria. However, amendments are normally restricted to correcting factual errors and not matters of official judgments, such as performance ratings, or subjective judgments that reflect an individual's observation, evaluation, or opinion.
PA Request Process
Reminder for current and former members of the NRO Workforce:
The non-disclosure agreement that you signed is a lifetime commitment to protect national security equities.
If you are planning to publish, be mindful of the requirements of your parent organization:
If you have questions, please contact the FOIA Requester Service Center at 703-227-9326.