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U.S. Geological Survey Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Electronic Reading Room

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Welcome to the USGS FOIA Electronic Reading Room, which contains documents related to the Flow Rate Technical Group (FRTG) lead by USGS Director Marcia McNutt in response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. These documents have been cleared for public release and please note that USGS will be publishing additional documents to this collection regularly as we continue to identify responsive records associated with the FRTG. We recommend that you search this site before filing a FOIA request as well as other Federal Government Deepwater electronic reading rooms for documents or information that you are seeking.

Please note that the current posted inventory of FRTG Deepwater Horizon documents is not all inclusive and should not be interpreted as such.

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

FOIA Background

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552, as amended, is based on the principle of openness in government and generally provides that any person has a right, enforceable in court, of access to Federal agency records, except to the extent that such records (or portions thereof) are protected from disclosure by one of nine exemptions or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions. Under the spirit and provisions of the FOIA, Federal agencies are to make their records available to the public to the greatest extent possible.

FOIA requests for a copy of U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) records can be made by any individual or public or private organization other than a Federal agency. The request must: (1) be in writing or by e-mail to, (2) specifically cite the Freedom of Information Act, (3) reasonably describe the records sought, and (4) indicate a willingness to pay fees, (specify the amount they are willing to pay) or ask for a fee waiver.


Upon receipt, the FOIA Officer will direct the request to the appropriate USGS FOIA Representative. The FOIA representative or an assigned liaison officer will respond to the request no later than 20 workdays after receipt, as required by the FOIA statute. When it is necessary to forward a request to another installation such as a field office for response, the time limit begins upon receipt by the field office. A time extension, not to exceed an additional 10 workdays, may be taken in certain circumstances. However, the requester must be notified in writing that an extension is being taken, the reason(s) for taking the extension, and the anticipated date of the FOIA response.

A FOIA response must advise the requester of the records that the bureau intends to disclose or to withhold, the exemption(s) authorizing the withholding (including a citation or summary of each exemption), and a strong justification for withholding the record(s). Normally the records to be disclosed will be provided with the response letter. If the records are not provided with the letter, they will be sent as soon as possible thereafter.

USGS Uses Multi-track Processing of FOIA Requests

In accordance with 43 CFR 2.26, the USGS uses three processing tracks based on the amount of time required for a request to be processed: Simple, 1-5 workdays, Normal, 20 workdays, and Complex, over 20 workdays. Visit the DOI FOIA Guidance website for more information.


Headquarters USGS FOIA responses involving a denial or partial denial of records must be coordinated with the FOIA Officer. In the central, eastern and western regions, denials are usually signed by the Regional Geospatial Information Officer (RGIO), after consultation with the regional solicitor. A denial or partial denial letter will contain a paragraph advising the requester of the right to file an appeal with the Department of the Interior's FOIA Appeals Officer.


If you have questions on the USGS FOIA process, please contact:

Brian A. May
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Officer
U.S. Geological Survey
Department of the Interior
5522 Research Park Drive
Baltimore, MD 21228
(443) 498-5521 (office)
(443) 498-5510 (fax) (email)

Department of the Interior

U.S. Geological Survey

Other Resources

*Note: Download the free Adobe Reader to view PDF files from the Adobe Systems. Or go to for free tools that allow visually impaired users to read PDF files.

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Page Last Modified: 23-Jan-2018@07:02