1 Reply Latest reply on Sep 11, 2018 10:16 AM by Research Services at the National Archives

    NARA vs. FOIA

    Bill Streifer Adventurer

      I have often written articles based on documents obtained through FOIA. Some of these 50-years-old or older classified documents were declassified for me. Under FOIA, the first 100 pages are free, and you can request a fee waiver if the number of pages exceeds 100 pages.This is done if the released documents are in the public interest.


      By the way, I am not paid for most of my articles for academic and intelligence journals.


      So I contacted the U.S. Navy for 100-300 pages through FOIA, for use in one or more new articles. Unfortunately I was informed that the documents were at NARA and therefore not subject to FOIA rules. Although NARA graciously sent me three pages free of charge, they want $0.80 per page for the remaining pages. If I order them from NARA, they will charge $80-$240.


      Does NARA offer a fee waiver option?


      If not, how can I obtain these 100-300 pages without paying hundreds of dollars, which I can hardly afford and which I am not inclined to purchase in either case. Hiring a researcher at NARA or traveling from Florida to Washington won't be much cheaper. Does NARA publish military journals? If I write my article for them, would NARA still charge me for the documents? This is a story that needs to be told.

        • Re: NARA vs. FOIA
          Research Services at the National Archives Tracker

          Dear Mr. Streifer,


          The following response is from NARA's Office of General Counsel:


          "NARA charges a copying fee for archival records to recover the actual costs of making the copies. NARA does not grant fee waivers for archival records, because, in accordance with section 552(a)(4)(A)(vi) of the Freedom of Information Act, NARA has a separate fee statute that applies to archival records and does not provide for fee waivers; however, fee waivers are granted for archival records that are a part of the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection, because the 1992 statute governing this collection provides so. If researchers do not want to pay the fee, they can use their own equipment to make copies or scans of archival records in the research room."


          Information regarding fee waivers is found in Section VIII of the FOIA Reference Guide - National Archives and Records Administration.

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