The FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) is another example of the great civil liberties American citizens are afforded. The FOIA was implemented by congress to allow citizens the ability to retrieve virtually any government information they desire. Even though there are nine restricted information areas, the ability to access copies of federal contracts is not among them. You can find general information about contracts and solicitations on the Fed Biz Opps website. But in order to obtain copies of official documents such as awarded contracts, you will have to go through the FOIA.
Locate and write down the number for the contract you want. The contract number is the key tracking mechanism for obtaining information.
Gather all the details and viable information you have about the contract. The most important detail is the contract number. If you do not know the contract number you can perform an advanced search on the Fed Biz Opps website by using keywords associated with the contract.
Itemize the information you have gathered and format it into a list. For example:
- Contract number.
- Contracting agency name, address, and phone number.
- Who was awarded the contract.
- Contracting officers name.
Identify and write down why you want a copy of a government contract. You will have to include this reason inside your letter of request.
Call the agency that awarded/sponsored the contract, whether it be the Department of Defense, Department of Energy etc. Ask them for their guidelines for submitting a request for a copy of a contract they awarded under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act). All requests must be written or typed, but some agencies have different options for submission. Submission options usually include, postal mail, email, or faxing.
Write your official letter of request for a copy of the contract. Include all contact information, the contract number and your reason for requesting this information. This information is free, but the agency does reserve the right to charge a small fee. The agency must respond within a certain time period based upon guidelines set by the FOIA.
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