Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
Requests for Information under the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act
The Authority is committed to ensuring timely and appropriate responses to requests for information in accordance with the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The purpose of this policy is to set forth the policies and procedures the Authority will abide by in responding to such requests for information.
Format of the Request
While no particular format is required for requests, the Authority offers and appreciates the use of its “Freedom of Information Request Form” which is available on the Authority’s website.
Regardless of the format of the request, it should include the following information in order to ensure a timely and appropriate response is received:
- the requestor’s name and company name (if applicable)
- the requestor’s address, telephone number and e-mail address
- a specific description of the information that is being requested
The request should indicate if the requestor prefers copies of the information or only that the information be made available for inspection.
The request must be submitted via email to FOIA@schousing.com or via the US Postal Service to the following address:
South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority
Attn: Legal - FOIA Request
300-C Outlet Pointe Blvd.
Columbia, SC 29210
Receipt of the Request
All requests for information pursuant to FOIA must be made in writing. All requests received by the Authority are to be immediately forwarded to the Authority’s Legal Department for response.
The Legal Department will forward the request to the appropriate division within the Authority to collect and review the requested information. The division should immediately review the request and advise the Legal Department if it anticipates that the effort required to respond to the request will exceed two hours and/or copies of the information requested would exceed 50 pages of documents. The division must also advise the Legal Department whether or not it anticipates that any items may need to be redacted from the requested information.
Items that may be Redacted from Requested Information
Items that are exempt under FOIA may be redacted from the requested information. Such items may include but are not limited to:
- Social Security Numbers
- Driver’s License Numbers
- Home Street Address or Phone Numbers
- Date of Births
- Bank Account Numbers
- Private Employer Salaries
- South Carolina Government Salaries under $50,000
- Copies of Drivers’ Licenses
- Income Tax Returns
If the Authority does not redact personally identifying information, the requestor is warned that obtaining or using public records for commercial solicitation is a misdemeanor punishable by a monetary fine and/or imprisonment.
Acknowledgment of the Request
After the Legal Department has determined whether the information may be released or whether items are to be redacted from the information, the Legal Department will send an acknowledgement of the request. The acknowledgment will include a determination of whether or not the information will be released, the estimated fee for research and/or providing copies of the requested information and will provide a timetable within which a final response will be provided.
If the information will be released, the Legal Department will confirm with the requestor whether it prefers the Authority to provide copies of the information or whether it prefers only that the information be made available for inspection.
The acknowledgement must be sent to the requestor within 15 days (exclusive of weekends and legal public holidays) as required by law.
Preparation of the Final Response
After being forwarded the request by the Legal Department, it is the responsibility of the appropriate division to collect the requested information, redact information as necessary, make an electronic copy of the information and provide the electronic copy to the Legal Department. The division should provide the electronic copy to the Legal Department within 5 business days of receiving the request. If it cannot be provided within 5 business days, the division should contact the Legal Department to notify them of the additional time necessary to prepare and provide the electronic copy. The division should be attentive to any color images, oversized documents or other documents that may be difficult to scan within the requested information. If not scanned appropriately, the Legal Department may request the division to re-scan utilizing the color or larger scanners if the original scans are not.
Once the Legal Department receives an electronic copy from the division, it will review the information and prepare a final response to the requestor. The final response will include a copy of the requested information or it will indicate that the documents are available for inspection or copying. If the requestor has indicated that they want to inspect the documents, the requestor will be advised to contact the Authority to schedule a time and place for the inspection.
Electronic FOIA requests will be acknowledged in the same manner as written requests.
The requestor may request or agree to an electronic response. If the requestor requests or agrees to receive the requested information in an electronic format, then the information will be provided in a PDF format or other electronic format that protects the integrity of the document.
There will be no charge for the Authority’s examination and review of the requested information to determine if the information is subject to disclosure.
The Authority may charge a research fee of $12 per hour for each hour in excess of the first two hours necessary to search for and produce the requested information. If the requestor requires the Authority to provide copies of the information requested and the information exceeds 50 pages, the Authority may charge 20 cents ($0.20) per page for each page that exceeds 50 pages. The charge for the provision of copies of the information applies whether the requestor is provided paper copies of the information or the information is provided in electronic format.
A deposit may be required prior to production of the requested information. The final bill for research and/or copies will be provided concurrent with or after the final response is sent to the requestor.
By operation of law or at the discretion of the Authority, the Authority may produce the requested information at no charge to the requestor or at a reduced rate when it determines that it is in the public interest to release the requested information.