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NSF Office of Inspector General FOIA Information

All federal agencies are required under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. Section 552, to disclose records requested in writing by any person. However, depending on the purpose and use of such documents, there are circumstances under which agencies may withhold information pursuant to exemptions and exclusions specified by the Act.

HOW TO REQUEST RECORDS FROM OIG

While we are linked to the Agency FOIA program, and we follow their regulations and reporting requirements, requests for OIG records are handled independently by the OIG. Requests for OIG records (including audit or investigative records) can be made by mail, facsimile, or email at the following address:

National Science Foundation
FOIA Officer
2415 Eisenhower Avenue
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
foiaoig@nsf.gov
(703) 292-9159

FOIA requests must be in writing. No telephone requests will be accepted.

The request must reasonably describe the specific records desired, provide a mailing address, and must state that you will promptly pay the total fees chargeable under the regulation (see 45 C.F.R. § 612.10) or set a maximum amount you are willing to pay. Generally a single request for a limited number of documents will not result in any fee because NSF does not charge if fees would total less than $25.

CONSIDERATIONS FOR REQUESTS FOR OIG INVESTIGATIVE RECORDS

Requests for investigative records should not identify a case by the name or other individually identifiable information about a person involved in the case. Examples of suitable descriptions are:

"All research misconduct cases closed [in the past 3 months] "or" [between March-May 2002]."

"The case discussed on pages [#-#] of the [date or #] NSF OIG Semiannual Report to the Congress."

PLEASE NOTE: If we receive a request that identifies a case by the name or other individually identifiable information about a person involved in the case — or by reference to very specific facts of the case — and if that case did not result in successful criminal prosecution or recent civil legal action against that person, or if that person is not currently debarred or voluntarily excluded governmentwide, then we will not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation involving that person; accordingly, we will provide no investigation reports, case closeout memoranda, or any other records related to any such request.

Note regarding exclusions: Congress has provided special protection ("exclusions") in the FOIA for two narrow categories of law enforcement records. The first exclusion protects the existence of an ongoing criminal law enforcement investigation when the subject of the investigation is unaware that it is pending and disclosure could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings. The second exclusion is limited to criminal law enforcement agencies and protects the existence of informant records when the informant's status has not been officially confirmed. Records falling within an exclusion are not subject to the requirements of the FOIA.

When OIG responds to your request it will limit its response to those records that are subject to the FOIA.

ONLINE AVAILABILITY OF CERTAIN REPORTS AND INVESTIGATIVE CLOSEOUT MEMORANDA

Many investigation reports and case closeout memoranda for closed cases are available online at our Case Closeout Memoranda webpage. These reports and memoranda have already been processed under the FOIA and the Privacy Act for public disclosure, which means that information that is exempt under the FOIA or that is subject to the Privacy Act's non-disclosure provision has been removed. Redactions include information that would identify subjects or witnesses. Retrieval is based on case number or case classification.

Likewise, OIG routinely posts reports that are issued by the Office of Audit on its webpage. These reports have also been pre-processed under FOIA procedures and exempt information has been removed. The webpage also contains other OIG-generated documents, such as the office's strategic and annual plans, management challenges, and Semiannual Reports to Congress.

OIG FOIA PUBLIC LIAISON

Ms. Jennifer Kendrick, Assistant Counsel to the Inspector General is OIG's FOIA Public Liaison. She can be reached at 703-292-7100 or by email at foiaoig@nsf.gov. Under the FOIA, the liaison is "responsible for assisting in reducing delays, increasing transparency and understanding of the status of requests, and assisting in the resolution of disputes." 5 U.S.C. § 552(l).

REFERENCES

General Information about FOIA: http://www/justice.gov/oip/.

NSF Main FOIA Page: https://www.nsf.gov/policies/foia (containing additional information, including NSF's FOIA and Privacy Act Regulations, published in 45 C.F.R. parts 612 and 613, respectively).