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LUNCH WITH LAURA Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

How anyone can request to see your grant application


Enacted in 1967, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows anyone to request access to federal records and documents with some limited exceptions. It is not uncommon for individuals to request grant applications under FOIA. In these instances, the Federal funding agency will reach out to the Principal Investigator explaining the request and providing an opportunity for the Principal Investigator to request portions of the application to be redacted under one or more of the allowable exemptions. The majority of these exemptions do not apply to a grant application under most circumstances and include:

  • Classified information
  • Information related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency
  • Information specifically exempted for disclosure by another federal statute
  • Records exchanged within or between agencies that are normally privileged (e.g., attorney client privilege)
  • Records or information for law enforcement purposes
  • Information related to the examination, operation, etc. of an agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions
  • Geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells

The two exemptions that may apply to grant applications are:

Information about Individuals in Personnel, Medical and Similar Files

We are allowed to request the redaction of personal information such as salary, home address and other personal information. Often the Federal agency will redact this information on your behalf.

Trade Secrets and Commercial or Financial Information that is Privileged and Confidential

This is the exemption more frequently used to protect portions of the research narrative or project description. To be clear, it cannot be information or data that has not been published yet but information that we can reasonably say is confidential, will not be released to the public domain or is patentable.

What to do if this happens to you

Call me! I have experience with FOIA requests and can help walk you through the process and help to draft the response to the Federal agency. We typically have about one to two weeks to provide a response, however extensions are often granted upon request.

Even though a grant application was written by a UM faculty member, it is still considered a federal document and therefore subject to FOIA. I am here to help and my goal is to protect you and your research so reach out if your application is subject to a FOIA request.

Please join me on October 13th at 12:00pm to discuss this topic further, I would love to hear from you!

Register in advance for the Zoom session here. You may also submit your question(s) and/or comment(s) in advance of the session.  


Letter from Laura

Laura Kozma
Associate Vice President, Research Administration
Lunch with Laura Overview 

Lunch with Laura is a monthly newsletter and discussion session with me (Laura Kozma, Associate Vice President for Research Administration) on a specific topic. There will be new focus each month which will include hot topics in research administration, new and significant policies, and changes in the Office of Research Administration (ORA).


The newsletter will be distributed to the University of Miami (UM) communicated and will also be available online. Each newsletter will briefly discuss key points about the monthly focus including available resources.

Lunch with Laura

The discussion session (or Lunch with Laura) will be held shortly after the newsletter is sent out. All are welcome to come and discuss the monthly focus and ask questions. I look forward to having an opportunity to discuss your concerns and questions in depth. My goal is to make this an opportunity for you and one for me as well so I can better understand your struggles and challenges. You may submit your questions or comments in advance of the session.