National Archives at St. Louis

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and The Privacy Act

The following information pertains to Federal (non-archival) records. Archival records, by contrast, are no longer the property of the agencies that created them but are records of the National Archives, open to the general public (see Archival Records).

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA (5 U.S.C. 552, as amended), generally provides any person with the statutory right, enforceable in court, to obtain access to Government information in executive branch agency records. This right to access is limited when such information is protected from disclosure by one of FOIA's nine statutory exemptions. Click for more information on the Provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

  • FOIA and Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF)

    The public has access to certain military service information without the veteran's authorization or that of the next-of-kin (the un-remarried widow or widower, son, daughter, father, mother, brother or sister) of deceased veterans. Examples of information which may be available from Federal (non-archival) Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF) without an unwarranted invasion of privacy include:

    • Name

    • Service Number

    • Dates of Service

    • Branch of Service

    • Final Duty Status

    • Final Rank

    • Salary *

    • Assignments and Geographical Locations

    • Source of Commission *

    • Military Education Level

    • Promotion Sequence Number *

    • Awards and decorations (eligibility only, not actual medals)

    • Photograph

    • Transcript of Courts-Martial Trials

    • Place of entrance and separation

    If the veteran is deceased:

    • Place of birth

    • Date and geographical location of death

    • Place of burial

    *Items rarely available in the records we maintain.
  • FOIA and Official Personnel Folders (OPF)

    Most information in a Federal (non-archival) Official Personnel Folder (OPF) is not releasable to the general public without the written consent of the individual whose record is involved. The Freedom of Information Act does allow, however, for certain information to be released without the individual's consent. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has determined that the following information can be released to the public:

    • Name

    • Past and present positions

    • Past and present titles

    • Past and present salaries

    • Past and present grades

    • Past and present job locations

The Privacy Act

The basic provisions of the Privacy Act, as it applies to military and civilian records at the NPRC, are to provide safeguards for an individual against an invasion of personal privacy by:

  • permitting the subject to find out what records pertaining to him/her are maintained;

  • permitting the subject to prevent records that pertain to him/her from being used or made available for purposes other than the purpose for which they were created; and

  • permitting the subject to gain access to the records, or to have photocopies made of all or any portion thereof, and to correct or amend such records.

The Privacy Act places great emphasis on the privacy of the individual named in the record and carries provisions for civil action against Federal agencies for violations of an individual's rights under the Act. Click for more information on the Provisions of the Privacy Act.

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