FOIA - Overview and Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Freedom of Information Act?

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is the law that gives you access, with certain exceptions, to information about the functions, procedures, policies, decisions, and operations of Federal and State agencies.

Are there any charges for a FOIA request?

Yes. Under the FOIA, we are allowed to establish and collect fees not to exceed the actual cost of searching for or making copies of records. The SCDNR FOIA Officer will calculate the cost and convey the price to the requestor. The cost of a FOIA request is calculated by using an hourly search fee that roughly approximates the salary and experience level of the personnel conducting the search.

A copy fee of $.20 per page is charged.

The agency will not release information where costs are incurred until full payment is received.

How long will it be before I get the information after filing a FOIA request?

The FOIA Officer will notify the requestor of the cost estimate and request initial payment as expeditiously as possible, but no more than the 15 business days allowed by law. In the event that a request is unintelligible, vague, or extremely over broad, the FOIA officer shall communicate with the requestor to try to better ascertain the subject matter requested.

What types of materials are not available under FOIA?

Information of a personal nature where the public disclosure thereof would constitute unreasonable invasion of personal privacy. Information of a personal nature shall include, but not be limited to, information as to gross receipts contained in applications for business licenses and information relating to public records which include the name, address, and telephone number or other such information of an individual or individuals who are handicapped or disabled when the information is requested for person-to-person commercial solicitation of handicapped persons solely by virtue of their handicap. This provision must not be interpreted to restrict access by the public and press to information contained in public records.

Records of law enforcement and public safety agencies not otherwise available by state and federal law that were compiled in the process of detecting and investigating crime if the disclosure of the information would harm the agency by:

  1. disclosing identity of informants not otherwise known;
  2. the premature release of information to be used in a prospective law enforcement action;
  3. disclosing investigatory techniques not otherwise known outside the government;
  4. by endangering the life, health, or property of any person; or
  5. disclosing any contents of intercepted wire, oral, or electronic communications not otherwise disclosed during a trial.

Are there any privacy considerations which the SCDNR must consider in granting your FOIA request?

Information of a personal nature where the public disclosure thereof would constitute unreasonable invasion of personal privacy. Information of a personal nature shall include, but not be limited to, information as to gross receipts contained in applications for business licenses and information relating to public records which include the name, address, and telephone number of other such information of an individual or individuals who are handicapped or disabled when the information is requested for person-to-person commercial solicitation of handicapped persons solely by virtue of their handicap. This provision must not be interpreted to restrict access by the public and press to information contained in public records.

SC Code of Laws Title 30 Public Records Chapter 2
Family and Personal Identifying Information Privacy Protection