How to make a request

To submit a Freedom of Information Act request:

  • Send a written request to the TVA FOIA Officer, Denise Smith.
  • Describe the records you want as specifically as possible.
  • 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.

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.

You do not have to complete a special form. Mail or fax your request, making sure you mark the request and envelope “FOIA.” Please provide your phone number and mailing address so that we can contact you to clarify your request, if necessary.

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.

FOIA exemptions

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

FOIA exclusions

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.

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.

Appealing a decision

You have the right to appeal any denial decision within 30 days. Send an appeal to TVA’s Appeals Official (see the “Contacts” section of this Web site).

FOIA fees

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.

Fee categories

For fee purposes, the FOIA requires that requesters be placed in one of the following categories:

  1. Commercial use (requester pays search, review and reproduction fees)
  2. News media, educational institution or noncommercial scientific institution (requester pays reproduction fees; first 100 pages provided at no cost)
  3. 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.

Fee waivers

The FOIA permits agencies to waive fees if disclosure of the records requested is in the public interest for both of the following reasons:

  1. 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?)
  2. 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.

Response time

Normally, you can expect a response to your FOIA request within 20 workdays from the date the request is received by TVA’s FOIA Officer. If a special situations exists, the FOIA office will contact you with an estimated completion date and will explain the reason(s) for any delay. TVA assigns requests to multitracks and processes requests within each track on a first-in, first-out basis.

Privacy Act

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, or you can call the TVA FOIA Officer at (865) 632-6945 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Last modified: 20000229. Comments or questions about the TVA FOIA Web site: FOIA@tva.gov.