Guide on responding to FOIA requests available

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The National Association for Biomedical Research has published a resource for researchers, university administrators and counsel, and others about responding to Freedom of Information Act requests, particularly those from animal rights organizations.

"Responding to FOIA Requests: Facts and Resources" is a 10-point best practices guide that includes suggestions for determining who should be aware of and responsible for responding to FOIA requests; examples of records commonly requested from the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and universities; an explanation of some of the ways animal rights activists use the FOIA; and steps that can be taken to ensure that the proper information is provided to the requester.

In recent years, animal rights activists have increasingly used the federal FOIA and state open records laws to obtain information about biomedical research projects and identify principal investigators using animals, according to NABR. In some cases the information is then posted on Internet sites that label investigators as animal "abusers" and encourage the harassment of PIs.

Some sites also facilitate or suggest the use of violence against PIs, the association said.

The best practices guide is the result of the combined efforts of NABR, the Society for Neuroscience, and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

For a copy of "Responding to FOIA Requests: Facts and Resources," go to Questions? Contact NABR at (202) 857-0540, or by e-mail at infoatnabr [dot] org (info[at]nabr[dot]org).