Freedom of Information Act
Like all federal agencies, TVA is required under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to disclose records that any person requests in writing. Information that is covered by any of the exemptions and exclusions below, however, may be withheld.
One central office at TVA processes all FOIA requests. It is the requester’s responsibility to ensure that a FOIA request is sent to the proper person by following the process below.
Preparing a Request
Before you submit a FOIA request, please prepare the following information. This will help us decide where to search to determine what records pertain to your request. It can also save you and the government time and money, and you may get what you want faster.
- Describe the records you want as specifically as possible.
- Review the fee information below and tell us how much you’re willing to pay.
- Furnish any facts or clues about the dates, places, persons, events or subjects you’re interested in, or other details of the information or records you want.
- Review the FOIA exemptions and exclusions below.
Note: A FOIA request may seek only records that exist at the time the request is received, and may not require that new records be created in response to the request.
Submitting a Request
Please use our FOIA portal to submit a new request. On the portal, you can also check the status of an existing FOIA request. Note: Check your spam/junk email folder for reply communications from AINS, TVA’s authorized FOIA case management vendor.
The FOIA provides access to federal-agency records (or parts of such records), except those protected from release by nine specific exemptions. Some TVA records may not be released because they contain:
- Classified material
- Material referring to internal personnel rules and practices
- Material that is exempt by other statute
- Commercial business information submitted by an outside source
- Predecisional deliberative information; government confidential commercial information; attorney-client information; and witness statements
- Material whose release would constitute an invasion of personal privacy
- Material compiled for law-enforcement purposes
- Financial-institution oversight records
- Geological information about wells
Congress excluded three discrete categories of law enforcement and national security records from the requirements of FOIA. (See 5 U.S.C. § 552(c) (2006 & Supp. IV 2010). The three exclusions are:
- (c)(1) Whenever a request is made which involves access to records described in subsection (b)(7)(A) and—
(A) the investigation or proceeding involves a possible violation of criminal law; and
(B) there is reason to believe that (i) the subject of the investigation or proceeding is not aware of its pendency, and (ii) disclosure of the existence of the records could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings, TVA may, during only such time as that circumstance continues, treat the records as not subject to the requirements of this section.
- (c)(2) Whenever informant records maintained by a criminal law enforcement agency under an informant's name or personal identifier are requested by a third party according to the informant's name or personal identifier, TVA may treat the records as not subject to the requirements of this section unless the informant's status as an informant has been officially confirmed.
- (c)(3) Whenever a request is made which involves access to records maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) pertaining to foreign intelligence or counterintelligence, or international terrorism and the existence of the records is classified
information as provided in subsection (b)(1), the Bureau may, as long as the existence of the records remains classified information, treat the records as not subject to the requirements of this section.
Agencies are authorized by law to recover the direct costs of providing information to a requester under the FOIA. If you make such a request, you may be required to pay fees for searching, reviewing and copying records. You will be notified in advance if these fees will exceed $25.
For fee purposes, the FOIA requires that requesters be placed in one of the following categories:
- Commercial use (requester pays search, review and reproduction fees)
- News media, educational institution or noncommercial scientific institution (requester pays reproduction fees; first 100 pages provided at no cost)
- All others (requester pays search and reproduction fees; first two hours of search and first 100 pages provided at no cost).
Please specify the fee category into which you feel your request falls, and state the maximum amount of fees that you are willing to pay, or include a request for a fee waiver.
The FOIA permits agencies to waive fees if disclosure of the records requested is in the public interest for both of the following reasons:
- It is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government (Do the records concern government operations or activities? Is disclosure likely to contribute to public understanding of these operations or activities? Will that contribution be significant?)
- It is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.
A request for a fee waiver must be fully documented and justified by written explanation. The U.S. Department of Justice, which oversees FOIA compliance throughout the federal government, sets out a six-part test for agencies to follow in evaluating requests for fee waivers.
Normally, you can expect a response to your FOIA request within 20 workdays from the date the request is received. If a special situation exists, the FOIA office will contact you with an estimated completion date and will explain the reason(s) for any delay. In fairness to all our requesters, the FOIA requests which cannot be answered within 20 workdays are placed in the multi-track system in accordance with TVA’s FOIA regulations, 18 C.F.R. § 1301.5, and are generally answered in the order they are received within each track
Checking the Status of a Request
Please use our FOIA portal to check the status of an existing FOIA request. Note: Check your spam/junk email folder for reply communications from AINS, TVA’s authorized FOIA case management vendor.
Appealing a Decision
If your FOIA request was denied, you have the right to appeal this decision within 90 days. Send an appeal to TVA’s Appeals Official.
Under the Privacy Act (PA), a person may seek access to records that are retrieved by that person’s name or other personal identifier, such as Social Security number or employee identification number. Such records will be made available unless they fall within the exemptions of the PA and the FOIA. Detailed information about TVA policies and procedures for obtaining access to information under the FOIA and the PA is available in 18 CFR Part 1301.
FOIA Requester Service Center – FOIA contacts at TVA
TVA Guide – A variety of TVA sources for quarterly and annual reports, bond offerings, energy services, reservoir levels, library services, mapping products and services, general inquiries and more
Reading Room – Includes TVA policy statements, administrative staff manuals and instructions to staff that affect the public, final opinions rendered in the adjudication of administrative cases, and documents frequently requested under the FOIA
Reports – Includes annual, quarterly and other reports
- TVA Freedom of Information Act Regulations, 18 CFR 1301 Subpart A (September 1, 2017)
- Privacy Act: TVA Systems of Records, 18 CFR 1301 Subpart B (April 10, 2010)
- Privacy Act: Republication of Notice of Systems of Records by TVA (April 29, 2015)
FOIA Public Liaison
TVA welcomes any feedback you may have regarding the FOIA requester service center. Please forward any comments to the FOIA Public Liaison.