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109th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                    109-226
_______________________________________________________________________

                                     

                                     

                                     

                                                 Union Calendar No. 127

   A CITIZEN'S GUIDE ON USING THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT AND THE 
           PRIVACY ACT OF 1974 TO REQUEST GOVERNMENT RECORDS

                               __________

                             SECOND REPORT

                                 by the

                     COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM

                                     

                                     

  Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/congress/
                               index.html
                      http://www.house.gov/reform

 September 20, 2005.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed


                     COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM

                     TOM DAVIS, Virginia, Chairman
CHRISTOPHER SHAYS, Connecticut       HENRY A. WAXMAN, California
DAN BURTON, Indiana                  TOM LANTOS, California
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida         MAJOR R. OWENS, New York
JOHN M. McHUGH, New York             EDOLPHUS TOWNS, New York
JOHN L. MICA, Florida                PAUL E. KANJORSKI, Pennsylvania
GIL GUTKNECHT, Minnesota             CAROLYN B. MALONEY, New York
MARK E. SOUDER, Indiana              ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS, Maryland
STEVEN C. LaTOURETTE, Ohio           DENNIS J. KUCINICH, Ohio
TODD RUSSELL PLATTS, Pennsylvania    DANNY K. DAVIS, Illinois
CHRIS CANNON, Utah                   WM. LACY CLAY, Missouri
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee       DIANE E. WATSON, California
CANDICE S. MILLER, Michigan          STEPHEN F. LYNCH, Massachusetts
MICHAEL R. TURNER, Ohio              CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, Maryland
DARRELL E. ISSA, California          LINDA T. SANCHEZ, California
GINNY BROWN-WAITE, Florida           C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER, Maryland
JON C. PORTER, Nevada                BRIAN HIGGINS, New York
KENNY MARCHANT, Texas                ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, District of 
LYNN A. WESTMORELAND, Georgia            Columbia
PATRICK T. McHENRY, North Carolina               ------
CHARLES W. DENT, Pennsylvania        BERNARD SANDERS, Vermont 
VIRGINIA FOXX, North Carolina            (Independent)
JEAN SCHMIDT, Ohio

                    Melissa Wojciak, Staff Director
       David Marin, Deputy Staff Director/Communications Director
                     Keith Ausbrook, Chief Counsel
                  Rob Borden, Parliamentarian/Counsel
                       Teresa Austin, Chief Clerk
          Phil Barnett, Minority Chief of Staff/Chief Counsel

   Subcommittee on Government Management, Finance, and Accountability

              TODD RUSSELL PLATTS, Pennsylvania, Chairman
VIRGINIA FOXX, North Carolina        EDOLPHUS TOWNS, New York
TOM DAVIS, Virginia                  MAJOR R. OWENS, New York
GIL GUTKNECHT, Minnesota             PAUL E. KANJORSKI, Pennsylvania
MARK E. SOUDER, Indiana              CAROLYN B. MALONEY, New York
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee

                               Ex Officio
                      HENRY A. WAXMAN, California

                     Mike Hettinger, Staff Director
                           Dan Daly, Counsel
               Tabetha Mueller, Professional Staff Member
                         Nathaniel Berry, Clerk
            Adam Bordes, Minority Professional Staff Member
  


                         LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL

                              ----------                              

                                  House of Representatives,
                                Washington, DC, September 20, 2005.
Hon. J. Dennis Hastert,
Speaker of the House of Representatives,
Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Speaker: By direction of the Committee on 
Government Reform, I submit herewith the committee's second 
report to the 109th Congress. The committee's report is based 
on a study conducted by its Subcommittee on Government 
Management, Finance, and Accountability.
                                                 Tom Davis,
                                                          Chairman.

                                 (iii)

                                     
?

                            C O N T E N T S

    _________________________________________________________________
                                                                   Page
  I. Preface..........................................................1
 II. Introduction.....................................................2
III. Recommendations..................................................4
 IV. How to use this guide............................................5
  V. Which act to use.................................................6
 VI. The Freedom of Information Act...................................6
        A. The scope of the Freedom of Information Act...........     6
        B. What records can be requested under the FOIA?.........     7
        C. Making a FOIA request.................................     9
        D. Fees and fee waivers..................................    11
        E. Requirements for agency responses.....................    13
        F. Reasons access may be denied under the FOIA...........    15
              1. Exemption 1.--Classified documents..............    15
              2. Exemption 2.--Internal personnel rules and          16
                  practices.
              3. Exemption 3.--Information exempt under other        16
                  laws.
              4. Exemption 4.--Confidential business information.    16
              5. Exemption 5.--Internal Government communications    17
              6. Exemption 6.--Personal privacy..................    18
              7. Exemption 7.--Law enforcement...................    18
              8. Exemption 8.--Financial institutions............    19
              9. Exemption 9.--Geological information............    19
        G. FOIA exclusions.......................................    19
        H. Administrative appeal procedures......................    20
        I. Filing a judicial appeal..............................    21
VII. The Privacy Act of 1974.........................................22
        A. The scope of the Privacy Act of 1974..................    22
        B. The Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act......    23
        C. Locating records......................................    24
        D. Making a Privacy Act request for access...............    26
        E. Fees..................................................    27
        F. Requirements for agency responses.....................    27
        G. Reasons access may be denied under the Privacy Act....    27
              1. General exemptions..............................    28
              2. Specific exemptions.............................    29
              3. Medical records.................................    30
              4. Litigation records..............................    30
        H. Administrative appeal procedures for denial of access.    31
        I. Amending records under the Privacy Act................    31
        J. Appeals and requirements for agency responses.........    32
        K. Filing for judicial appeal............................    33

                               APPENDIXES

Appendix 1.--Sample request and appeal letters...................    35
    A. Freedom of Information Act request letter.................    35
    B. Freedom of Information Act appeal letter..................    37
    C. Privacy Act request for access letter.....................    39
    D. Privacy Act denial of access appeal.......................    40
    E. Privacy Act request to amend records......................    41
    F. Privacy Act appeal of refusal to amend records............    42

                                  (v)

  
?

                                   VI


Appendix 2.--Bibliography of congressional publications on the       43
  Freedom of Information Act.
Appendix 3.--Bibliography of congressional publications on the       48
  Privacy Act of 1974.
Appendix 4.--Select bibliography on non-congressional materials      51
  on using the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act of 
  1974.
Appendix 5.--Text of the Freedom of Information Act..............    52
Appendix 6.--Text of the Privacy Act of 1974.....................    63



                                                 Union Calendar No. 127
109th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                    109-226

======================================================================

 
   A CITIZEN'S GUIDE ON USING THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT AND THE 
           PRIVACY ACT OF 1974 TO REQUEST GOVERNMENT RECORDS

                                _______
                                

 September 20, 2005.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Mr. Tom Davis of Virginia, from the Committee on Government Reform, 
                        submitted the following

                             SECOND REPORT

    On September 15, 2005, the Committee on Government Reform 
approved and adopted a report entitled ``A Citizen's Guide on 
Using the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 
1974 To Request Government Records.'' The chairman was directed 
to transmit a copy to the Speaker of the House.

                               I. Preface

    In 1977, the House Committee on Government Operations 
issued the first Citizen's Guide on how to request records from 
Federal agencies.\1\ The original Guide was reprinted many 
times and widely distributed. The Superintendent of Documents 
at the Government Printing Office reported that almost 50,000 
copies were sold between 1977 and 1986 when the Guide went out 
of print. In addition, thousands of copies were distributed by 
the House Committee on Government Operations, Members of 
Congress, the Congressional Research Service, and other Federal 
agencies. The original Citizen's Guide is one of the most 
widely read congressional committee reports in history.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\ A Citizen's Guide on How to Use the Freedom of Information Act 
and the Privacy Act in Requesting Government Documents, H. Rept. 95-
796, 95th Cong., 1st sess. (1977).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In 1987, the committee issued a revised Citizen's Guide.\2\ 
The new edition was prepared to reflect changes to the Freedom 
of Information Act made during 1986. As a result of special 
efforts by the Superintendent of Documents at the Government 
Printing Office, the availability of the new Guide was well 
publicized. The 1987 edition appeared on GPO's ``Best Seller'' 
list in the months following its issuance.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\ A Citizen's Guide on Using the Freedom of Information Act and 
the Privacy Act of 1974 To Request Government Records, H. Rept. 100-
199, 100th Cong., 1st sess. (1987).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    During the 100th Congress, major amendments were made to 
the Privacy Act of 1974. The Computer Matching and Privacy 
Protection Act of 1988 \3\ added new provisions to the Privacy 
Act and changed several existing requirements. None of the 
changes affected citizens' rights to request or see records 
held by Federal agencies, but some of the information in the 
1987 Guide became outdated as a result, and a third edition was 
issued in 1989.\4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \3\ 102 Stat. 2507, Public Law 100-53.
    \4\ A Citizen's Guide on Using the Freedom of Information Act and 
the Privacy Act of 1974 To Request Government Records, H. Rept. 101-
193, 101st Cong., 1st sess. (1989).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    During the 101st Congress, the Privacy Act of 1974 was 
amended through further adjustments to the Computer Matching 
and Privacy Protection Act of 1988. The changes did not affect 
access rights. A fourth edition of the Citizen's Guide 
reflected all changes to the FOIA and Privacy Act made through 
the end of 1990.\5\ A fifth edition of the Guide, produced in 
1993, included an expanded bibliography and editorial 
changes.\6\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \5\ A Citizen's Guide on Using the Freedom of Information Act and 
the Privacy Act of 1974 To Request Government Records, H. Rept. 102-
146, 102d Cong., 1st sess. (1991).
    \6\ A Citizen's Guide on Using the Freedom of Information Act and 
the Privacy Act of 1974 To Request Government Records, H. Rept. 103-
104, 103d Cong., 1st sess. (1993).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    A sixth edition contained bibliography additions and 
editorial changes and represented the first report issued by 
the new Government Reform and Oversight Committee.\7\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \7\ A Citizen's Guide on Using the Freedom of Information Act and 
the Privacy Act of 1974 To Request Government Records, H. Rept. 104-
156, 104th Cong., 1st sess. (1995).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In the closing days of the 104th Congress, the Senate and 
the House of Representatives completed action on the Electronic 
Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996. The President 
signed this legislation into law on October 2, 1996, when it 
became Public Law 104-231. The seventh edition was published in 
1997.\8\ With the exception of one provision pertaining to 
electronic indexes, the Electronic Freedom of Information Act 
amendments became effective at various times during 1997. The 
1996 amendments changed some FOIA access rights, and the eighth 
edition of the Guide reflected these modifications.\9\ It also 
contained bibliography additions and editorial changes. The 9th 
edition reflected further bibliography additions and editorial 
changes,\10\ as did the 10th edition.\11\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \8\ A Citizen's Guide on Using the Freedom of Information Act and 
the Privacy Act of 1974 To Request Government Records, H. Rept. 105-37, 
105th Cong., 1st sess. (1997).
    \9\ A Citizen's Guide on Using the Freedom of Information Act and 
the Privacy Act of 1974 To Request Government Records, H. Rept. 106-50, 
106th Cong., 1st sess. (1999).
    \10\ A Citizen's Guide on Using the Freedom of Information Act and 
the Privacy Act of 1974 To Request Government Records, H. Rept. 107-
371, 107th Cong., 2d sess. (2002).
    \11\ A Citizen's Guide on Using the Freedom of Information Act and 
the Privacy Act of 1974 To Request Government Records, H. Rept. 108-
172, 108th Cong., 2d sess. (2003).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                            II. Introduction

          A popular Government without popular information or 
        the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce 
        or a Tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever 
        govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own 
        Governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge 
        gives.--James Madison \12\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \12\ Letter to W.T. Barry, Aug. 4, 1822, in G.P. Hunt, ed., IX The 
Writings of James Madison 103 (1910).

    The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) establishes a 
presumption that records in the possession of agencies and 
departments of the executive branch of the U.S. Government are 
accessible to the people. This was not always the approach to 
Federal information disclosure policy. Before enactment of the 
FOIA in 1966, the burden was on the individual to establish a 
right to examine these government records. There were no 
statutory guidelines or procedures to help a person seeking 
information. There were no judicial remedies for those denied 
access.
    With the passage of the FOIA, the burden of proof shifted 
from the individual to the government. Those seeking 
information are no longer required to show a need for 
information. Instead, the ``need to know'' standard has been 
replaced by a ``right to know'' doctrine. The government now 
has to justify the need for secrecy.
    The FOIA sets standards for determining which records must 
be disclosed and which records may be withheld. The law also 
provides administrative and judicial remedies for those denied 
access to records. Above all, the statute requires Federal 
agencies to provide the fullest possible disclosure of 
information to the public. The history of the act reflects that 
it is a disclosure law. It presumes that requested records will 
be disclosed, and the agency must make its case for withholding 
in terms of the act's exemptions to the rule of disclosure. The 
application of the act's exemptions is generally permissive--to 
be done if information in the requested records requires 
protection--not mandatory. Thus, when determining whether a 
document or set of documents should be withheld under one of 
the FOIA exemptions, an agency should withhold those documents 
only in those cases where the agency reasonably foresees that 
disclosure would be harmful to an interest protected by the 
exemption. Similarly, when a requestor asks for a set of 
documents, the agency should release all documents, not a 
subset or selection of those documents. Contrary to the 
instructions issued by the Department of Justice on October 12, 
2001, the standard should not be to allow the withholding of 
information whenever there is merely a ``sound legal basis'' 
for doing so.
    The Privacy Act of 1974 is a companion to the FOIA. The 
Privacy Act regulates Federal Government agency recordkeeping 
and disclosure practices. The act allows most individuals to 
seek access to Federal agency records about themselves. The act 
requires that personal information in agency files be accurate, 
complete, relevant, and timely. The subject of a record may 
challenge the accuracy of information. The act requires that 
agencies obtain information directly from the subject of the 
record and that information gathered for one purpose not be 
used for another purpose. As with the FOIA, the Privacy Act 
provides civil remedies for individuals whose rights may have 
been violated.
    Another important feature of the Privacy Act is the 
requirement that each Federal agency publish a description of 
each system of records maintained by the agency that contains 
personal information. This prevents agencies from keeping 
secret records.
    The Privacy Act also restricts the disclosure of personally 
identifiable information by Federal agencies. Together with the 
FOIA, the Privacy Act permits disclosure of most personal files 
to the individual who is the subject of the files. The two laws 
restrict disclosure of personal information to others when 
disclosure would violate privacy interests.
    While both the FOIA and the Privacy Act support the 
disclosure of agency records, both laws also recognize the 
legitimate need to restrict disclosure of some information. For 
example, agencies may withhold information properly classified 
in the interest of national defense or foreign policy and 
criminal investigatory files. Other specifically defined 
categories of information may also be withheld.
    The essential feature of both laws is that they make 
Federal agencies accountable for information disclosure 
policies and practices. While neither law grants an absolute 
right to examine government documents, both laws establish the 
right to request records and to receive a response to the 
request. If a record cannot be released, the requester is 
entitled to be told the reason for the denial. The requester 
also has a right to appeal the denial and, if necessary, to 
challenge it in court.
    These procedural rights granted by the FOIA and the Privacy 
Act make the laws valuable and workable. As a result, the 
disclosure of Federal Government information cannot be 
controlled by arbitrary or unreviewable actions.

                          III. Recommendations

    The committee recommends that this Citizen's Guide be made 
widely available at low cost to anyone who has an interest in 
obtaining documents from the Federal Government. The Government 
Printing Office and Federal agencies subject to the Freedom of 
Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974 should continue to 
distribute this report widely.
    The committee also recommends that this Citizen's Guide be 
used by Federal agencies in training programs for government 
employees who are responsible for administering the Freedom of 
Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974. The Guide should 
also be used by those government employees who only 
occasionally work with these two laws.
    In following these recommendations, however, agencies are 
not relieved of their obligation to comply with the provisions 
of the 1996 FOIA amendments requiring agencies to make publicly 
available, upon request, reference material or an agency guide 
for requesting records or information. This agency guide should 
include an index and description of all major information 
systems of the agency, and guidance for obtaining various types 
and categories of public information from the agency.
    The agency guide is intended to be a short and simple 
explanation for the public of what the FOIA is designed to do, 
and how a member of the public can use it to access government 
records. Each agency should explain, in clear and simple 
language, the types of records that can be obtained from the 
agency through FOIA requests; why some records cannot, by law, 
be made available; and how the agency makes the determination 
of whether or not a record can be released.
    Each agency guide should explain how to make a FOIA 
request, and how long a requester can expect to wait for a 
reply from the agency. In addition, the guide should explain 
the requester's rights under the law to appeal to the courts to 
rectify agency action. The guide should give a brief history of 
recent litigation the agency has been involved in, and the 
resolution of those cases. If an agency requires that certain 
requests, such as applications for expedited access, be 
completed on agency forms, then the forms should be part of the 
guide.
    The agency guide is intended to supplement other 
information locator systems, like the Government Information 
Locator System (GILS) mandated by the Paperwork Reduction Act 
of 1995.\13\ Thus, the guide should reference systems and 
explain how a requester can obtain more information about them. 
Any agency specific locator systems should be similarly 
referenced in the guide.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \13\ 109 Stat. 163; 44 U.S.C. Sec. Sec. 3501-3520 (2005).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    All agency guides should be available through electronic 
means, and should be linked to agency annual reports on FOIA 
administration. A citizen examining an agency guide should 
learn how to access the agency's annual reports, and any 
potential requester reading an annual report should learn about 
the agency guide, and how to access it.

                       IV. How To Use This Guide

    This report explains how to use the Freedom of Information 
Act and the Privacy Act of 1974. It reflects all changes to the 
laws made since 1996. Major amendments to the Freedom of 
Information Act passed in 1974, 1986, and 1996. A major 
addition to the Privacy Act of 1974 was enacted in 1988.
    This Guide is intended to serve as a general introduction 
to the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act.\14\ It 
offers neither a comprehensive explanation of the details of 
these acts nor an analysis of case law. The Guide will enable 
those who are unfamiliar with the laws to understand the 
process and to make a request. In addition, the complete text 
of each law is included in an appendix.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \14\ This Guide is primarily intended to help the general public. 
It includes a complete explanation of the basics of the two laws. In 
the interest of producing a guide that would be both simple and useful 
to the intended audience, the committee deliberately avoided addressing 
some of the issues that are highly controversial. The committee 
cautions against treating the neutrally written descriptions contained 
in this report as definitive expressions of the committee's views of 
the law or congressional intent.
    The committee has expressed its views on some of these issues in 
other reports. See, for example, Security Classification Policy and 
Executive Order 12356, H. Rept. 97-731, 97th Cong. 2d sess. (1982); Who 
Cares About Privacy? Oversight of the Privacy Act of 1974 by the Office 
of Management and Budget and by the Congress, H. Rept. 98-455, 98th 
Cong., 1st sess. (1983); Electronic Collection and Dissemination of 
Information by Federal Agencies: A Policy Overview, H. Rept. 99-560, 
99th Cong., 2d sess. (1986); Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 
1986, H. Rept. 99-832, 99th Cong., 2d sess. (1986) (report to accompany 
H.R. 4862). The latter report is a legislative report for a bill 
reforming the business procedures of the FOIA. The bill did not become 
law. The 1986 amendments to the FOIA were made by the Freedom of 
Information Reform Act of 1986, Public Law 99-570. The Electronic 
Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996, H. Rept. 104-795, 104th 
Cong., 2d sess. (1996).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Readers should be aware that FOIA litigation is a complex 
area of law. There are thousands of court decisions 
interpreting the FOIA.\15\ These decisions must be considered 
in order to develop a complete understanding of the principles 
governing disclosure of government information. Anyone 
requiring more details about the FOIA, its history, or the case 
law should consult other sources. There has been less 
controversy and less litigation over the Privacy Act, but there 
is, nevertheless, a considerable body of case law for the 
Privacy Act as well. There are also other sources of 
information on the Privacy Act.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \15\ See, e.g., U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Information 
and Privacy, Freedom of Information Case List (published May 2002), 
http://www.usdoj.gov/04foia/cl-tofc.html and Freedom of Information Act 
Guide & Privacy Act Overview (published May 2004), http://usdoj.gov/
04foia/04--7.html.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    However, no one should be discouraged from making a request 
under either law. No special expertise is required. Using the 
Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act is as simple as 
writing a letter. This Citizen's Guide explains the essentials.

                          V. Which Act To Use

    The access provisions of the FOIA and the Privacy Act 
overlap in part. The two laws have different procedures and 
different exemptions. As a result, sometimes information exempt 
under one law will be disclosable under the other.
    In order to take maximum advantage of the laws, an 
individual seeking information about himself or herself should 
ordinarily cite both laws. Requests by an individual for 
information that does not relate solely to himself or herself 
should be made only under the FOIA.
    Congress intended that the two laws be considered together 
in the processing of requests for information. Most government 
agencies will automatically handle requests from individuals in 
a way that will maximize the amount of information that is 
disclosable. However, a requester should still make a request 
in a manner that is most advantageous and that fully protects 
all available legal rights. A requester who has any doubts 
about which law to use should always cite both the FOIA and the 
Privacy Act when seeking documents from the Federal Government.

                   VI. The Freedom of Information Act


             A. THE SCOPE OF THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT

    The Federal Freedom of Information Act applies to documents 
held by agencies of the executive branch of the Federal 
Government. The executive branch includes cabinet departments, 
military departments, government corporations, government 
controlled corporations, independent regulatory agencies, and 
other establishments in the executive branch.
    The FOIA does not apply to elected officials of the Federal 
Government, including the President,\16\ Vice President, 
Senators, and Representatives.\17\ The FOIA does not apply to 
the Federal judiciary. The FOIA does not apply to private 
companies; persons who receive Federal contracts or grants 
\18\; private organizations; or State or local governments.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \16\ The Presidential Records Act of 1978, 44 U.S.C. 
Sec. Sec. 2201-2207 (2005), does make the documentary materials of 
former Presidents subject to the FOIA in part. Presidential papers and 
documents generated after Jan. 20, 1981, will be available--subject to 
certain restrictions and delays--under the general framework of the 
FOIA.
    \17\ Virtually all official records of the Congress are available 
to the public. The Congressional Record, all bills introduced in the 
House and the Senate, and all committee reports (except for those 
containing classified information) are printed and disseminated. Most 
committee hearings are also printed and available. Copies of most 
congressional publications are available at Federal depository 
libraries throughout the country. Historical records of the Congress 
are made available in accordance with procedures established by House 
and Senate rules.
    In addition, almost all activities of the Congress take place in 
public. The sessions of the House and Senate are normally open to the 
public and televised. Most committee hearings and markups are open to 
the public, and some are televised.
    \18\ Public Law 105-277 states, ``. . . Provided further, That the 
Director of OMB amends Section--.36 of OMB Circular A-110 to require 
Federal awarding agencies to ensure that all data produced under an 
award will be made available to the public through the procdedures 
established under the Freedom of Information Act . . .''.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    All States and some localities have passed laws similar to 
the FOIA that allow people to request access to records. In 
addition, there are other Federal and State laws that may 
permit access to documents held by organizations not covered by 
the Federal FOIA.\19\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \19\ See, e.g., the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. 
Sec. 1681 et seq. (2005) (providing for access to files of credit 
bureaus), the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 
1974, 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1232g (2005) (providing for access to records 
maintained by schools and colleges). Some States have enacted laws 
allowing individuals to have access to personnel records maintained by 
employers. See, e.g., Michigan Compiled Laws Annotated Sec. 423.501 
(2005).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

            B. WHAT RECORDS CAN BE REQUESTED UNDER THE FOIA?

    The FOIA requires agencies to publish in the Federal 
Register--thereby, under the Government Printing Office 
Electronic Information Access Enhancement Act of 1993,\20\ 
making such information available online--(1) descriptions of 
agency organization and office addresses; (2) statements of the 
general course and method of agency operation; (3) rules of 
procedure and descriptions of forms; and (4) substantive rules 
of general applicability and general policy statements. The act 
also requires agencies to make available for public inspection 
and copying: (1) final opinions made in the adjudication of 
cases; (2) statements of policy and interpretations adopted by 
an agency, but not published in the Federal Register; (3) 
administrative staff manuals that affect the public; (4) copies 
of records released in response to FOIA requests that an agency 
determines have been or will likely be the subject of 
additional requests; and (5) a general index of released 
records determined to have been or likely to be the subject of 
additional requests.\21\ The 1996 FOIA amendments require that 
these materials which an agency must make available for 
inspection and copying without the formality of a FOIA request 
and which are created on or after November 1, 1996, must be 
made available by computer telecommunications and in hard 
copy.\22\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \20\ 44 U.S.C. Sec. 4101 (2005); the Government Printing Office 
Access Web site may be accessed at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/index.html.
    \21\ The 1996 amendments to the FOIA require that this general 
index be made available by computer telecommunications. Since not all 
individuals have access to computer networks or are near agency public 
reading rooms, requesters would still be able to access previously 
released FOIA records through the normal FOIA process.
    \22\ The 1996 FOIA amendments were signed into law on October 2, 
1996.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    All other ``records'' of a Federal agency may be requested 
under the FOIA. The form in which a record is maintained by an 
agency does not affect its availability. A request may seek a 
printed or typed document, tape recording, map, photograph, 
computer printout, computer tape or disk, or a similar item. 
The 1996 FOIA amendments affirm the general policy that any 
record, regardless of the form in which it is stored, that is 
in the possession and control of a Federal agency is usually 
considered to be an agency record under the FOIA. Although the 
FOIA occasionally uses terms other than ``record,'' including 
``information'' and ``matter,'' the definition of ``record'' 
made by the 1996 amendments should leave no doubt about the 
breadth of the policy or the interchangability of terms.
    Of course, not all records that can be requested under the 
FOIA must be disclosed. Information that is exempt from 
disclosure is described below in the section entitled ``Reasons 
Access May Be Denied Under the FOIA.''
    The FOIA, it should be noted, provides that a requester may 
ask for records rather than information. This means that an 
agency is only required to look for an existing record or 
document in response to a FOIA request. An agency is not 
obliged to create a new record to comply with a request. An 
agency is neither required to collect information it does not 
have, nor must an agency do research or analyze data for a 
requester.\23\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \23\ When records are maintained in a computer, an agency is 
required to retrieve information in response to a FOIA request. The 
process of retrieving the information may result in the creation of a 
new document when the data is printed out on paper or written on 
computer tape or disk. Since this may be the only way computerized data 
can be disclosed, agencies are required to provide the data even if it 
means a new document must be created.
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    Requesters must ask for existing records. Requests may have 
to be carefully written in order to obtain the desired 
information. Sometimes, an agency will help a requester 
identify a specific document that contains the information 
being sought. Other times, a requester may need to be creative 
when writing a FOIA request in order to identify an existing 
document or set of documents containing the desired 
information.
    There is a second general limitation on FOIA requests. The 
law requires that each request must reasonably describe the 
records being sought. This means that a request must be 
specific enough to permit a professional employee of the agency 
who is familiar with the subject matter to locate the record in 
a reasonable period of time.
    Requesters should make requests as specific as possible. If 
a particular document is required, it should be identified 
precisely, preferably by date and title. However, a request 
does not always have to be that specific. A requester who 
cannot identify a specific record should clearly explain his or 
her needs. A requester should make sure, however, that a 
request is broad enough to include all desired information.
    For example, assume that a requester wants to obtain a list 
of toxic waste sites near his home. A request to the 
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for all records on toxic 
waste would cover many more records than are needed. The fees 
for such a request might be very high, and it is possible that 
the request might be rejected as too vague.
    A request for all toxic waste sites within 3 miles of a 
particular address is very specific. However, it is unlikely 
that the EPA would have an existing record containing data 
organized in that fashion. As a result, the request might be 
denied because there is no existing record containing the 
information.
    The requester might do better to ask for a list of toxic 
waste sites in his city, county, or State. It is more likely 
that existing records might contain this information. The 
requester might also want to tell the agency in the request 
letter exactly what information is desired. This additional 
explanation may help the agency to find a record that meets the 
request.
    Many people include their telephone number with their 
requests. Some questions about the scope of a request can be 
resolved quickly when an agency employee and the requester 
talk. This is an efficient way to resolve questions that arise 
during the processing of FOIA requests.
    It is to everyone's advantage if requests are as precise 
and as narrow as possible. The requester benefits because the 
request can be processed faster and cheaper. The agency 
benefits because it can do a better job of responding to the 
request. The agency will also be able to use its resources to 
respond to more requests. The FOIA works best when both the 
requester and the agency act cooperatively.

                        C. MAKING A FOIA REQUEST

    The first step in making a request under the FOIA is to 
identify the agency that has the records. A FOIA request must 
be addressed to a specific agency. There is no central 
government records office that services FOIA requests.
    Often, a requester knows beforehand which agency has the 
desired records. If not, a requester can consult a government 
directory such as the United States Government Manual.\24\ This 
manual has a complete list of all Federal agencies, a 
description of agency functions, and the address of each 
agency. A requester who is uncertain about which agency has the 
records that are needed can make FOIA requests at more than one 
agency.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \24\ The United States Government Manual is sold by the 
Superintendent of Documents of the U.S. Government Printing Office. 
Virtually every public library should have a copy on its shelves. An 
electronic version of the Manual may be found on the Office of the 
Federal Register Web site at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/nara/index.html. 
Individual agency Web sites may also be consulted for useful FOIA 
information.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Agencies require that FOIA requests be in writing. Letters 
requesting records under the FOIA can be short and simple. No 
one needs a lawyer to make a FOIA request. Appendix 1 of this 
Guide contains a sample request letter.
    The request letter should be addressed to the agency's FOIA 
officer or to the head of the agency. The envelope containing 
the written request should be marked ``Freedom of Information 
Act Request'' in the lower left-hand corner.\25\
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    \25\ All agencies have issued FOIA regulations that describe the 
request process in greater detail. For example, large agencies may have 
several components each of which has its own FOIA rules. A requester 
who can find agency FOIA regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations 
(available in many libraries and an electronic version may be found on 
the Office of the Federal Register Web site provided in note 24) might 
find it useful to check these regulations before making a request. A 
requester who follows the agency's specific procedures may receive a 
faster response. However, the simple procedures suggested in this guide 
will be adequate to meet the minimum requirements for a FOIA request.
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    There are three basic elements to a FOIA request letter. 
First, the letter should state that the request is being made 
under the Freedom of Information Act. Second, the request 
should identify the records that are being sought as 
specifically as possible. Third, the name and address of the 
requester must be included.
    Under the 1986 amendments to the FOIA the fees that may be 
charged vary with the status or purpose of the requester. As a 
result, a requester may have to provide additional information 
to permit the agency to determine the appropriate fees. 
Different fees can be charged to commercial users, 
representatives of the news media, educational or noncommercial 
scientific institutions, and individuals. The next section 
explains the fee structure in more detail.
    There are several optional items that are often included in 
a FOIA request. The first is the telephone number of the 
requester. This permits an agency employee processing a request 
to speak with the requester if necessary.
    A second optional item is a limitation on the fees that the 
requester is willing to pay. It is common for a requester to 
ask to be notified in advance if the charges will exceed a 
fixed amount. This allows the requester to modify or withdraw a 
request if the cost may be too high. Also, by stating a 
willingness to pay a set amount of fees in the original request 
letter, a requester may avoid the necessity of additional 
correspondence and delay.
    A third optional item sometimes included in a FOIA request 
is a request for a waiver or reduction of fees. The 1986 
amendments to the FOIA changed the rules for fee waivers. Fees 
must be waived or reduced if disclosure of the information is 
in the public interest because it is likely to contribute 
significantly to public understanding of the operations or 
activities of the government and is not primarily in the 
commercial interest of the requester. Decisions about granting 
fee waivers are separate from and different than decisions 
about the amount of fees that can be charged to a requester.
    A fourth optional item is the specification of the form or 
format in which the requested material is sought. This is an 
important consideration if a requester desires the responsive 
information in a particular format. For example, should 
information maintained by an agency in an electronic form be 
provided in that same form (perhaps on a disk or CD-ROM) or in 
hardcopy (such as a paper printout)? The 1996 amendments to the 
FOIA require agencies to help requesters by providing 
information in the form requested, including requests for the 
electronic form of records, if the agency can readily reproduce 
it in that form. Part of this helping effort includes informing 
requesters of costs and delays that format preferences might 
engender.
    A fifth optional consideration is seeking expedited 
processing of a request by showing a ``compelling need'' for a 
speedy response. The 1996 amendments to the FOIA require the 
agencies to promulgate regulations authorizing expedited access 
where a requester demonstrates a ``compelling need'' for quick 
response. A ``compelling need'' warranting faster FOIA 
processing exists in two categories of circumstances. In the 
first category, the failure to obtain the records within an 
expedited deadline poses an imminent threat to an individual's 
life or physical safety. The second category requires a request 
by someone ``primarily engaged in disseminating information'' 
and ``urgency to inform the public concerning actual or alleged 
Federal Government activity.'' Agencies may determine other 
cases in which they will provide in their regulations for 
expedited processing.
    The specified categories for compelling need are intended 
to be narrowly applied. A threat to an individual's life or 
physical safety qualifying for expedited access should be 
imminent. A reasonable person should be able to appreciate that 
a delay in obtaining the requested information poses such a 
threat. A person ``primarily engaged in disseminating 
information'' should not include individuals who are engaged 
only incidentally in the dissemination of information. The 
standard of ``primarily engaged'' requires that information 
dissemination be the main activity of the requester, although 
it need not be his or her sole occupation. A requester who only 
incidentally engages in information dissemination, besides 
other activities, would not satisfy this requirement.
    The standard of ``urgency to inform'' requires that the 
information requested should pertain to a matter constituting a 
current exigency for the American public and that a reasonable 
person might conclude that the consequences of delaying a 
response to a FOIA request would compromise a significant 
recognized interest. The public's right to know, although a 
significant and important value, would not by itself be 
sufficient to satisfy this standard.
    A requester should keep a copy of the request letter and 
related correspondence until the request has been finally 
resolved.

                        D. FEES AND FEE WAIVERS

    FOIA requesters may have to pay fees covering some or all 
of the costs of processing their requests. As amended in 1986, 
the law establishes three types of fees that may be charged. 
The 1986 law makes the process of determining the applicable 
fees more complicated. However, the 1986 rules reduce or 
eliminate entirely the cost for small, noncommercial requests.
    First, fees can be imposed to recover the cost of copying 
documents. All agencies have a fixed price for making copies 
using copying machines. A requester is usually charged the 
actual cost of copying computer tapes, photographs, and other 
nonstandard documents.
    Second, fees can also be imposed to recover the costs of 
searching for documents. This includes the time spent looking 
for material responsive to a request. The 1996 amendments to 
the FOIA define ``search'' as a ``review, manually or by 
automated means,'' of ``agency records for the purpose of 
locating those records responsive to a request.'' Under the 
FOIA, an agency need not create documents that do not exist. 
Computer records found in a database rather than a file cabinet 
may require the application of codes or some form of 
programming to retrieve the information. Under the definition 
of ``search'' in the amendments, the review of computerized 
records would not amount to the creation of records. Otherwise, 
it would be virtually impossible to get records maintained 
completely in an electronic format, like computer database 
information, because some manipulation of the information 
likely would be necessary to search the records. A requester 
can minimize search charges by making clear, narrow requests 
for identifiable documents whenever possible.
    Third, fees can be charged to recover review costs. Review 
is the process of examining documents to determine whether any 
portion is exempt from disclosure. Before the 1986 amendments 
took effect, no review costs were charged to any requester. 
Review costs may be charged to commercial requesters only. 
Review charges only include costs incurred during the initial 
examination of a document. An agency may not charge for any 
costs incurred in resolving issues of law or policy that may 
arise while processing a request.
    Different fees apply to different requesters. There are 
three categories of FOIA requesters. The first includes 
representatives of the news media, and educational or 
noncommercial scientific institutions whose purpose is 
scholarly or scientific research. A requester in this category 
who is not seeking records for commercial use can only be 
billed for reasonable standard document duplication charges. A 
request for information from a representative of the news media 
is not considered to be for commercial use if the request is in 
support of a news gathering or dissemination function.
    The second category includes FOIA requesters seeking 
records for commercial use. Commercial use is not defined in 
the law, but it generally includes profitmaking activities. A 
commercial user can be charged reasonable standard charges for 
document duplication, search, and review.
    The third category of FOIA requesters includes everyone not 
in the first two categories. People seeking information for 
personal use, public interest groups, and nonprofit 
organizations are examples of requesters who fall into the 
third group. Charges for these requesters are limited to 
reasonable standard charges for document duplication and 
search. Review costs may not be charged. The 1986 amendments 
did not change the fees charged to these requesters.
    Small requests are free for a requester in the first and 
third categories. This includes all requesters except 
commercial users. There is no charge for the first 2 hours of 
search time and for the first 100 pages of documents. A 
noncommercial requester who limits a request to a small number 
of easily found records will not pay any fees at all.
    In addition, the law also prevents agencies from charging 
fees if the cost of collecting the fee would exceed the amount 
collected. This limitation applies to all requests, including 
those seeking documents for commercial use. Thus, if the 
allowable charges for any FOIA request are small, no fees are 
imposed.
    Each agency sets charges for duplication, search, and 
review based on its own costs. The amount of these charges is 
listed in agency FOIA regulations. Each agency also sets its 
own threshold for minimum charges.
    The 1986 FOIA amendments also changed the law on fee 
waivers. Fees now must be waived or reduced if disclosure of 
the information is in the public interest because it is likely 
to contribute significantly to public understanding of the 
operations or activities of the government and is not primarily 
in the commercial interest of the requester.
    The 1986 amendments on fees and fee waivers have created 
some confusion. Determinations about fees are separate and 
distinct from determinations about fee waivers. For example, a 
requester who can demonstrate that he or she is a news reporter 
may only be charged duplication fees. However, a requester 
found to be a reporter is not automatically entitled to a 
waiver of those fees. A reporter who seeks a waiver must 
demonstrate that the request also meets the standards for 
waivers.
    Normally, only after a requester has been categorized to 
determine the applicable fees does the issue of a fee waiver 
arise. A requester who seeks a fee waiver should ask for a 
waiver in the original request letter. However, a request for a 
waiver can be made at a later time. The requester should 
describe how disclosure will contribute to public understanding 
of the operations or activities of the government. The sample 
request letter in the appendix includes optional language 
asking for a fee waiver.
    Any requester may ask for a fee waiver. Some will find it 
easier to qualify than others. A news reporter who is only 
charged duplication costs may still ask that the charges be 
waived because of the public benefits that will result from 
disclosure. A representative of the news media, a scholar, or a 
public interest group are more likely to qualify for a waiver 
of fees. A commercial user may find it difficult to qualify for 
waivers.
    The eligibility of other requesters will vary. A key 
element in qualifying for a fee waiver is the relationship of 
the information to public understanding of the operations or 
activities of government. Another important factor is the 
ability of the requester to convey that information to other 
interested members of the public. A requester is not eligible 
for a fee waiver solely because of indigence.

                  E. REQUIREMENTS FOR AGENCY RESPONSES

    Under the 1996 amendments to the FOIA, each agency is 
required to determine within 20 days (excluding Saturdays, 
Sundays, and legal holidays) after the receipt of a request 
whether to comply with the request.\26\ The actual disclosure 
of documents is required to follow promptly thereafter. If a 
request is denied in whole or in part, the agency must tell the 
requester the reasons for the denial. The agency must also tell 
the requester that there is a right to appeal any adverse 
determination to the head of the agency or his or her designee.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \26\ The new response requirements of the 1996 amendments to the 
FOIA became effective on October 2, 1997.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The FOIA permits an agency to extend the time limits up to 
10 days in unusual circumstances. These circumstances include 
the need to collect records from remote locations, review large 
numbers of records, and consult with other agencies. The agency 
is supposed to notify the requester whenever an extension is 
invoked.\27\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \27\ Agencies that take more than 20 business days to respond to a 
request do not always notify each requester that an extension has been 
invoked.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The statutory time limits for responses are not always met. 
An agency sometimes receives an unexpectedly large number of 
FOIA requests at one time and is unable to meet the deadlines. 
Some agencies assign inadequate resources to FOIA offices. 
Congress does not condone the failure of any agency to meet the 
law's time limits. However, as a practical matter, there is 
little that a requester can do about it. The courts have been 
reluctant to provide relief solely because the FOIA's time 
limits have not been met.
    The best advice to requesters is to be patient. The law 
allows a requester to consider that his or her request has been 
denied if it has not been decided within the time limits. This 
permits the requester to file an administrative appeal or file 
a lawsuit in Federal District Court. However, this is not 
always the best course of action. The filing of an 
administrative or judicial appeal will not necessarily result 
in any faster processing of the request.
    Each agency generally processes requests in the order of 
receipt. Some agencies will expedite the processing of urgent 
requests. Anyone with a pressing need for records should 
consult with the agency FOIA officer about how to ask for 
expedited treatment of requests.
    The 1996 amendments to the FOIA made several changes to the 
response requirements. Agencies have long processed FOIA 
requests on a ``first in, first out'' basis. Processing 
requests solely on this basis, however, has resulted in lengthy 
delays for simple requests. The prior receipt and processing of 
complex requests delays other requests, increasing agency 
backlogs. To change this situation, the 1996 amendments to the 
FOIA authorize agencies to promulgate regulations establishing 
multitrack processing systems, and make clear that agencies 
should exercise due diligence within each track. Under these 
new arrangements, agencies also may give requesters the 
opportunity to limit the scope of their requests to qualify for 
processing under a faster track.
    As previously noted, the 1996 amendments also increase from 
10 to 20 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal 
holidays) the time allowed for an agency, after receiving a 
request, to determine whether to comply with the request. 
Moreover, the amendments provide a mechanism to deal with 
unusually burdensome requests which an agency would not be able 
to process within prescribed timeframes, including an extra 10 
days for ``unusual circumstances.'' For such requests, the 1996 
amendments require an agency to inform the requester that the 
request cannot be processed within the statutory time limits 
and provide an opportunity for the requester to limit the scope 
of the request so that it may be processed within statutory 
time limits, and/or arrange with the agency a negotiated 
deadline for processing the request. In the event the requester 
refuses to reasonably limit the scope of the request or agree 
upon a timeframe and then seeks judicial review, that refusal 
shall be considered as a factor in determining whether 
``exceptional circumstances'' exist for a judicial extension of 
processing time.
    The FOIA formerly provided that, in ``exceptional 
circumstances,'' a court may extend the statutory time limits 
for an agency to respond to a FOIA request, but did not specify 
what those circumstances are. The 1996 amendments clarify that 
routine, predictable agency backlogs for FOIA requests do not 
constitute exceptional circumstances for purposes of the act. 
Routine backlogs of requests for records under the FOIA do not 
give agencies an automatic excuse to ignore the time limits. A 
court shall consider an agency's efforts to reduce the number 
of pending requests in determining whether exceptional 
circumstances exist. Agencies may also make a showing of 
exceptional circumstances based on the amount of material 
classified, based upon the size and complexity of other 
requests processed by the agency, based upon the resources 
being devoted to the declassification of classified material of 
public interest, or based upon the number of requests for 
records by courts or administrative tribunals. A court also 
shall consider a requester's unwillingness to reasonably limit 
the scope of his or her request or to agree upon a processing 
timeframe prior to seeking judicial review.

             F. REASONS ACCESS MAY BE DENIED UNDER THE FOIA

    An agency may refuse to disclose an agency record that 
falls within any of the FOIA's nine statutory exemptions. The 
exemptions protect against the disclosure of information that 
would harm national defense or foreign policy, privacy of 
individuals, proprietary interests of business, functioning of 
the government, and other important interests. A document that 
does not qualify as an ``agency record'' may be denied because 
only agency records are available under the FOIA. Personal 
notes of agency employees may be denied on this basis. However, 
most records in the possession of an agency are ``agency 
records'' within the meaning of the FOIA.
    An agency may withhold exempt information, but it is not 
always required to do so. For example, an agency may disclose 
an exempt internal memorandum because no harm would result from 
its disclosure. However, an agency should not disclose an 
exempt document that is classified or that contains a trade 
secret.
    When a record contains some information that qualifies as 
exempt, the entire record is not necessarily exempt. Instead, 
the FOIA specifically provides that any reasonably segregable 
portions of a record must be provided to a requester after the 
deletion of the portions that are exempt. This is a very 
important requirement because it prevents an agency from 
withholding an entire document simply because one line or one 
page is exempt.
    The ease with which in electronic form or format may be 
redacted (deleting part of a record to prevent disclosure of 
material covered by an exemption) makes the determination of 
whether a few words or 30 pages have been withheld by an agency 
at times impossible. The 1996 amendments to the FOIA require 
agencies to identify the location of deletions in the released 
portion of the record and, where technologically feasible, to 
show the deletion at the place on the record where the deletion 
was made, unless including that indication would harm an 
interest protected by an exemption.

1. Exemption 1.--Classified Documents

    The first FOIA exemption permits the withholding of 
properly classified documents. Information may be classified in 
the interest of national defense or foreign policy.
    The rules for classification are established by the 
President and not the FOIA or other law. The FOIA provides 
that, if a document has been properly classified under a 
Presidential Executive order, the document can be withheld from 
disclosure.
    Classified documents may be requested under the FOIA. An 
agency can review the document to determine if it still 
requires protection. In addition, the Executive order on 
security classification establishes a special procedure for 
requesting the declassification of documents.\28\ If a 
requested document is declassified, it can be released in 
response to a FOIA request. However, a document that is 
declassified may still be exempt under other FOIA exemptions.
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    \28\ At the time that this Guide was prepared, the current 
Executive order on security classification was Executive Order 12958 
(60 Federal Register 19825-43 (Apr. 20, 1995)), which was promulgated 
on Apr. 17, 1995, as amended by Executive Order 13142 of Nov. 19, 1999 
(64 Federal Register 66089-90 (Nov. 23, 1999)), and Executive Order 
13292 of Mar. 25, 2003 (68 Federal Register 15315-34 (Mar. 28, 2003)). 
The texts of these orders may be found in the Federal Register at the 
provided citations, and electronic versions may be found on the Office 
of the Federal Register Web site provided at note 24. The rules for 
mandatory review for declassification are in section 3.5 of Executive 
Order 12598, as amended.
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2. Exemption 2.--Internal Personnel Rules and Practices

    The second FOIA exemption covers matters that are related 
solely to an agency's internal personnel rules and practices. 
As interpreted by the courts, there are two separate classes of 
documents that are generally held to fall within exemption 2.
    First, information relating to personnel rules or internal 
agency practices is exempt if it is a trivial administrative 
matter of no genuine public interest. A rule governing lunch 
hours for agency employees is an example.
    Second, an internal administrative manual can be exempt if 
disclosure would risk circumvention of law or agency 
regulations. In order to fall into this category, the material 
will normally have to regulate internal agency conduct rather 
than public behavior.

3. Exemption 3.--Information Exempt Under Other Laws

    The third exemption incorporates into the FOIA other laws 
that restrict the availability of information. To qualify under 
this exemption, a statute must require that matters be withheld 
from the public in such a manner as to leave no discretion to 
the agency. Alternatively, the statute must establish 
particular criteria for withholding or refer to particular 
types of matters to be withheld.
    One example of a qualifying statute is the provision of the 
Internal Revenue Code prohibiting the public disclosure of tax 
returns and tax return information.\29\ Another qualifying 
exemption 3 statute is the law designating identifiable census 
data as confidential.\30\ Whether a particular statute 
qualifies under exemption 3 can be a difficult legal question.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \29\ 26 U.S.C. Sec. 6103 (2005).
    \30\ 13 U.S.C. Sec. 9 (2005).
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4. Exemption 4.--Confidential Business Information

    The fourth exemption protects from public disclosure two 
types of information: Trade secrets and confidential business 
information. A trade secret is a commercially valuable plan, 
formula, process, or device. This is a narrow category of 
information. An example of a trade secret is the recipe for a 
commercial food product.
    The second type of protected data is commercial or 
financial information obtained from a person and privileged or 
confidential. The courts have held that data qualifies for 
withholding if disclosure by the government would be likely to 
harm the competitive position of the person who submitted the 
information. Detailed information on a company's marketing 
plans, profits, or costs can qualify as confidential business 
information. Information may also be withheld if disclosure 
would be likely to impair the government's ability to obtain 
similar information in the future.
    Only information obtained from a person other than a 
government agency qualifies under the fourth exemption. A 
person is an individual, a partnership, or a corporation. 
Information that an agency created on its own cannot normally 
be withheld under exemption 4.
    Although there is no formal requirement under the FOIA, 
many agencies will notify a submitter of business information 
that disclosure of the information is being considered.\31\ The 
submitter then has an opportunity to convince the agency that 
the information qualifies for withholding. A submitter can also 
file suit to block disclosure under the FOIA. Such lawsuits are 
generally referred to as ``reverse'' FOIA lawsuits because the 
FOIA is being used in an attempt to prevent rather than to 
require the disclosure of information. A reverse FOIA lawsuit 
may be filed when the submitter of documents and the government 
disagree whether the information is exempt.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \31\ See Predisclosure Notification Procedures for Confidential 
Commercial Information, Executive Order 12600, (52 Federal Register 
23781-83 (June 25, 1987)).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

5. Exemption 5.--Internal Government Communications

    The FOIA's fifth exemption applies to internal government 
documents. An example is a letter from one government 
department to another about a joint decision that has not yet 
been made. Another example is a memorandum from an agency 
employee to his supervisor describing options for conducting 
the agency's business.
    The purpose of the fifth exemption is to safeguard the 
deliberative policymaking process of government. The exemption 
encourages frank discussion of policy matters between agency 
officials by allowing supporting documents to be withheld from 
public disclosure. The exemption also protects against 
premature disclosure of policies before final adoption.
    While the policy behind the fifth exemption is well 
accepted, the application of the exemption is complicated. The 
fifth exemption may be the most difficult FOIA exemption to 
understand and apply. For example, the exemption protects the 
policymaking process, but it does not protect purely factual 
information related to the policy process. Factual information 
must be disclosed unless it is inextricably intertwined with 
protected information about an agency decision.
    Protection for the decisionmaking process is appropriate 
only for the period while decisions are being made. Thus, the 
fifth exemption has been held to distinguish between documents 
that are pre-decisional and therefore may be protected, and 
those which are post-decisional and therefore not subject to 
protection. Once a policy is adopted, the public has a greater 
interest in knowing the basis for the decision.
    The exemption also incorporates some of the privileges that 
apply in litigation involving the government. For example, 
papers prepared by the government's lawyers can be withheld in 
the same way that papers prepared by private lawyers for 
clients are not available through discovery in civil 
litigation.

6. Exemption 6.--Personal Privacy

    The sixth exemption covers personnel, medical, and similar 
files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly 
unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. This exemption 
protects the privacy interests of individuals by allowing an 
agency to withhold personal data kept in government files. Only 
individuals have privacy interests. Corporations and other 
legal persons have no privacy rights under the sixth exemption.
    The exemption requires agencies to strike a balance between 
an individual's privacy interest and the public's right to 
know. However, since only a clearly unwarranted invasion of 
privacy is a basis for withholding, there is a perceptible tilt 
in favor of disclosure in the exemption. Nevertheless, the 
sixth exemption makes it harder to obtain information about 
another individual without the consent of that individual.
    The Privacy Act of 1974 also regulates the disclosure of 
personal information about an individual. The FOIA and the 
Privacy Act overlap in part, but there is no inconsistency. An 
individual seeking records about himself or herself should cite 
both laws when making a request. This ensures that the maximum 
amount of disclosable information will be released. Records 
that can be denied to an individual under the Privacy Act are 
not necessarily exempt under the FOIA.

7. Exemption 7.--Law Enforcement

    The seventh exemption allows agencies to withhold law 
enforcement records in order to protect the law enforcement 
process from interference. The exemption was amended slightly 
in 1986, but it still retains six specific subexemptions.
    Exemption (7)(A) allows the withholding of a law 
enforcement record that could reasonably be expected to 
interfere with enforcement proceedings. This exemption protects 
an active law enforcement investigation from interference 
through premature disclosure.
    Exemption (7)(B) allows the withholding of information that 
would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an 
impartial adjudication. This exemption is rarely used.
    Exemption (7)(C) recognizes that individuals have a privacy 
interest in information maintained in law enforcement files. If 
the disclosure of information could reasonably be expected to 
constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, the 
information is exempt from disclosure. The standards for 
privacy protection in exemption 6 and exemption (7)(C) differ 
slightly. Exemption (7)(C) protects against an unwarranted 
invasion of personal privacy while exemption 6 protects against 
a clearly unwarranted invasion. Also, exemption (7)(C) allows 
the withholding of information that ``could reasonably be 
expected to'' invade someone's privacy. Under exemption 6, 
information can be withheld only if disclosure ``would'' invade 
someone's privacy.
    Exemption (7)(D) protects the identity of confidential 
sources. Information that could reasonably be expected to 
reveal the identity of a confidential source is exempt. A 
confidential source can include a State, local, or foreign 
agency or authority, or a private institution that furnished 
information on a confidential basis. In addition, the exemption 
protects information furnished by a confidential source if the 
data was compiled by a criminal law enforcement authority 
during a criminal investigation or by an agency conducting a 
lawful national security intelligence investigation.
    Exemption (7)(E) protects from disclosure information that 
would reveal techniques and procedures for law enforcement 
investigations or prosecutions or that would disclose 
guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions 
if disclosure of the information could reasonably be expected 
to risk circumvention of the law.
    Exemption (7)(F) protects law enforcement information that 
could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical 
safety of any individual.

8. Exemption 8.--Financial Institutions

    The eighth exemption protects information that is contained 
in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports 
prepared by or for a bank supervisory agency such as the 
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Reserve, or 
similar agencies.

9. Exemption 9.--Geological Information

    The ninth FOIA exemption covers geological and geophysical 
information, data, and maps about wells. This exemption is 
rarely used.

                           G. FOIA EXCLUSIONS

    The 1986 amendments to the FOIA gave limited authority to 
agencies to respond to a request without confirming the 
existence of the requested records. Ordinarily, any proper 
request must receive an answer stating whether there is any 
responsive information, even if the requested information is 
exempt from disclosure.
    In some narrow circumstances, acknowledgement of the 
existence of a record can produce consequences similar to those 
resulting from disclosure of the record itself. In order to 
avoid this type of problem, the 1986 amendments established 
three ``record exclusions.''
    The exclusions allow an agency to treat certain exempt 
records as if the records were not subject to the FOIA. An 
agency is not required to confirm the existence of three 
specific categories of records. If these records are requested, 
the agency may respond that there are no disclosable records 
responsive to the request. However, these exclusions do not 
broaden the authority of any agency to withhold documents from 
the public. The exclusions are only applicable to information 
that is otherwise exempt from disclosure.
    The first exclusion may be used when a request seeks 
information that is exempt because disclosure could reasonably 
be expected to interfere with a current law enforcement 
investigation (exemption (7)(A)). There are three specific 
prerequisites for the application of this exclusion. First, the 
investigation in question must involve a possible violation of 
criminal law. Second, there must be reason to believe that the 
subject of the investigation is not already aware that the 
investigation is underway. Third, disclosure of the existence 
of the records--as distinguished from the contents of the 
records--could reasonably be expected to interfere with 
enforcement proceedings.
    When all of these conditions exist, an agency may respond 
to a FOIA request for investigatory records as if the records 
are not subject to the requirements of the FOIA. In other 
words, the agency's response does not have to reveal that it is 
conducting an investigation.
    The second exclusion applies to informant records 
maintained by a criminal law enforcement agency under the 
informant's name or personal identifier. The agency is not 
required to confirm the existence of these records unless the 
informant's status has been officially confirmed. This 
exclusion helps agencies to protect the identity of 
confidential informants. Information that might identify 
informants has always been exempt under the FOIA.
    The third exclusion only applies to records maintained by 
the Federal Bureau of Investigation which pertain to foreign 
intelligence, counterintelligence, or international terrorism. 
When the existence of these types of records is classified, the 
FBI may treat the records as not subject to the requirements of 
FOIA.
    This exclusion does not apply to all classified records on 
the specific subjects. It only applies when the records are 
classified and when the existence of the records is also 
classified. Since the underlying records must be classified 
before the exclusion is relevant, agencies have no new 
substantive withholding authority.
    In enacting these exclusions, congressional sponsors stated 
that it was their intent that agencies must inform FOIA 
requesters that these exclusions are available for agency use. 
Requesters who believe that records were improperly withheld 
because of the exclusions can seek judicial review.

                  H. ADMINISTRATIVE APPEAL PROCEDURES

    Whenever a FOIA request is denied, the agency must inform 
the requester of the reasons for the denial and the requester's 
right to appeal the denial to the head of the agency. A 
requester may appeal the denial of a request for a document or 
for a fee waiver. A requester may contest the type or amount of 
fees that were charged. A requester may appeal any other type 
of adverse determination, including a rejection of a request 
for failure to describe adequately the documents being 
requested or a response indicating that no requested records 
were located. A requester can also appeal because the agency 
failed to conduct an adequate search for the documents that 
were requested.
    A person whose request was granted in part and denied in 
part may appeal the part that was denied. If an agency has 
agreed to disclose some but not all requested documents, the 
filing of an appeal does not affect the release of the 
documents that are disclosable. There is no risk to the 
requester in filing an appeal.
    The appeal to the head of the agency is a simple 
administrative appeal. A lawyer can be helpful, but no one 
needs a lawyer to file an appeal. Anyone who can write a letter 
can file an appeal. Appeals to the head of the agency often 
result in the disclosure of some records that had been 
withheld. A requester who is not convinced that the agency's 
initial decision is correct should appeal. There is no charge 
for filing an administrative appeal.
    An appeal is filed by sending a letter to the head of the 
agency. The letter must identify the FOIA request that is being 
appealed. The envelope containing the letter of appeal should 
be marked in the lower left-hand corner with the words 
``Freedom of Information Act Appeal.'' \32\
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    \32\ Agency FOIA regulations will ordinarily describe the appeal 
procedures and requirements with more specificity. At most agencies, 
decisions on FOIA appeals have been delegated to other agency 
officials. Requesters who have an opportunity to review agency 
regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (available in many 
libraries and on the Office of the Federal Register Web site provided 
at note 24) may be able to speed up the processing of the appeal. 
However, following the simple procedures described in this Guide will 
be sufficient to maintain a proper appeal.
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    Many agencies assign a number to all FOIA requests that are 
received. The number should be included in the appeal letter, 
along with the name and address of the requester. It is a 
common practice to include a copy of the agency's initial 
decision letter as part of the appeal, but this is not 
ordinarily required. It can also be helpful for the requester 
to include a telephone number in the appeal letter.
    An appeal will normally include the requester's arguments 
supporting disclosure of the documents. A requester may include 
any facts or any arguments supporting the case for reversing 
the initial decision. However, an appeal letter does not have 
to contain any arguments at all. It is sufficient to state that 
the agency's initial decision is being appealed. Appendix 1 
includes a sample appeal letter.
    The FOIA does not set a time limit for filing an 
administrative appeal of a FOIA denial. However, it is good 
practice to file an appeal promptly. Some agency regulations 
establish a time limit for filing an administrative appeal. A 
requester whose appeal is rejected by an agency because it is 
too late may refile the original FOIA request and start the 
process again.
    An agency is required to make a decision on an appeal 
within 20 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal 
holidays). It is possible for an agency to extend the time 
limits by an additional 10 days. Once the time period has 
elapsed, a requester may consider that the appeal has been 
denied and may proceed with a judicial appeal. However, unless 
there is an urgent need for records, this may not be the best 
course of action. The courts are not sympathetic to appeals 
based solely on an agency's failure to comply with the FOIA's 
time limits.

                      I. FILING A JUDICIAL APPEAL

    When an administrative appeal is denied, a requester has 
the right to appeal the denial in court. A FOIA appeal lawsuit 
can be filed in the U.S. District Court in the district where 
the requester lives. The requester can also file suit in the 
district where the documents are located or in the District of 
Columbia. When a requester goes to court, the burden of 
justifying the withholding of documents is on the government. 
This is a distinct advantage for the requester.
    Requesters are sometimes successful when they go to court, 
but the results vary considerably. Some requesters who file 
judicial appeals find that an agency will disclose some 
documents previously withheld rather than fight about 
disclosure in court. This does not always happen, and there is 
no guarantee that the filing of a judicial appeal will result 
in any additional disclosure.
    Most requesters require the assistance of an attorney to 
file a judicial appeal. A person who files a lawsuit and 
substantially prevails may be awarded reasonable attorney fees 
and litigation costs reasonably incurred. Some requesters may 
be able to handle their own case without an attorney. Since 
this is not a litigation guide, details of the judicial appeal 
process have not been included. Anyone considering filing a 
FOIA lawsuit can begin by reading the provisions of the FOIA on 
judicial review.\33\
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    \33\ More information on judicial review under the FOIA and Privacy 
Act may be found in Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws 
2004 (Electronic Privacy Information Center).
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                      VII. The Privacy Act of 1974


                A. THE SCOPE OF THE PRIVACY ACT OF 1974

    The Privacy Act of 1974 provides safeguards against an 
invasion of privacy through the misuse of records by Federal 
agencies. In general, the act allows a citizen to learn how 
records are collected, maintained, used, and disseminated by 
the Federal Government. The act also permits an individual to 
gain access to most personal information maintained by Federal 
agencies and to seek amendment of any inaccurate, incomplete, 
untimely, or irrelevant information.
    The Privacy Act applies to personal information maintained 
by agencies in the executive branch of the Federal Government. 
The executive branch includes cabinet departments, military 
departments, government corporations, government controlled 
corporations, independent regulatory agencies, and other 
establishments in the executive branch. Agencies subject to the 
Freedom of Information Act are also subject to the Privacy Act. 
The Privacy Act does not generally apply to records maintained 
by State and local governments or private companies or 
organizations.\34\
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    \34\ The Privacy Act applies to some records that are not 
maintained by an agency. Subsection (m) of the act provides that, when 
an agency provides by contract for the operation of a system of records 
on its behalf, the requirements of the Privacy Act apply to those 
records. As a result, some records maintained outside of a Federal 
agency are subject to the Privacy Act. Descriptions of these systems 
are published in the Federal Register. However, most records maintained 
outside of Federal agencies are not subject to the Privacy Act.
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    The Privacy Act only grants rights to U.S. citizens and to 
aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence. As a result, 
a nonresident foreign national cannot use the act's provisions. 
However, a nonresident foreign national may use the FOIA to 
request records about himself or herself.
    In general, the only records subject to the Privacy Act are 
records that are maintained in a system of records. The idea of 
a ``system of records'' is unique to the Privacy Act and 
requires explanation.
    The act defines a ``record'' to include most personal 
information maintained by an agency about an individual. A 
record contains individually identifiable information, 
including but not limited to information about education, 
financial transactions, medical history, criminal history, or 
employment history. A ``system of records'' is a group of 
records from which information is actually retrieved by name, 
Social Security number, or other identifying symbol assigned to 
an individual.
    Some personal information is not kept in a system of 
records. This information is not subject to the provisions of 
the Privacy Act, although access may be requested under the 
FOIA. Most personal information in government files is subject 
to the Privacy Act.
    The Privacy Act also establishes general records management 
requirements for Federal agencies. In summary, there are five 
basic requirements that are most relevant to individuals.
    First, each agency must establish procedures allowing 
individuals to see and copy records about themselves. An 
individual may also seek to amend any information that is not 
accurate, relevant, timely, or complete. The rights to inspect 
and to correct records are the most important provisions of the 
Privacy Act. This Guide explains in more detail how an 
individual can exercise these rights.
    Second, each agency must publish notices describing all 
systems of records. The notices include a complete description 
of personal data recordkeeping policies, practices, and 
systems. This requirement prevents the maintenance of secret 
record systems.
    Third, each agency must make reasonable efforts to maintain 
accurate, relevant, timely, and complete records about 
individuals. Agencies are prohibited from maintaining 
information about how individuals exercise rights guaranteed by 
the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution unless maintenance 
of the information is specifically authorized by statute or by 
the individual or relates to an authorized law enforcement 
activity.
    Fourth, the act establishes rules governing the use and 
disclosure of personal information. The act specifies that 
information collected for one purpose may not be used for 
another purpose without notice to or the consent of the subject 
of the record. The act also requires that each agency keep a 
record of some disclosures of personal information.
    Fifth, the act provides legal remedies that permit an 
individual to seek enforcement of the rights granted under the 
act. In addition, Federal employees who fail to comply with the 
act's provisions may be subjected to criminal penalties.

          B. THE COMPUTER MATCHING AND PRIVACY PROTECTION ACT

    The Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act of 1988 
amended the Privacy Act by adding new provisions regulating the 
use of computer matching. Records used during the conduct of a 
matching program are subject to an additional set of 
requirements.
    Computer matching is the computerized comparison of 
information about individuals for the purpose of determining 
eligibility for Federal benefit programs. A matching program 
can be subject to the requirements of the Computer Matching Act 
if records from a Privacy Act system of records are used during 
the program. If Federal Privacy Act records are matched against 
State or local records, then the State or local matching 
program can be subject to the new matching requirements.
    In general, matching programs involving Federal records 
must be conducted under a matching agreement between the source 
and recipient agencies. The matching agreement describes the 
purpose and procedures of the matching and establishes 
protections for matching records. The agreement is subject to 
review and approval by a Data Integrity Board. Each Federal 
agency involved in a matching activity must establish a Data 
Integrity Board.
    For an individual seeking access to or correction of 
records, the computer matching legislation provides no special 
access rights. If matching records are Federal records, then 
the access and correction provisions of the Privacy Act apply. 
There is no general right of access or correction for matching 
records of State and local agencies. It is possible that rights 
are available under State or local laws. There is, however, a 
requirement that an individual be notified of agency findings 
prior to the taking of any adverse action as a result of a 
computer matching program. An individual must also be given an 
opportunity to contest such findings. The notice and 
opportunity-to-contest provisions apply to matching records 
whether the matching was done by the Federal Government or by a 
State or local government. Section 7201 of Public Law 101-508 
modified the due process notice requirement to permit the use 
of statutory or regulatory notice periods.
    The matching provisions also require that any agency--
Federal or non-Federal--involved in computer matching must 
independently verify information used to take adverse action 
against an individual. This requirement was included in order 
to protect individuals from arbitrary or unjustified denials of 
benefits. Independent verification includes independent 
investigation and confirmation of information. Public Law 101-
508 also modified the independent verification requirement in 
circumstances in which it was unnecessary.
    Most of the provisions of the Computer Matching and Privacy 
Protection Act of 1988 were originally scheduled to become 
effective in July 1989. Public Law 101-56 delayed the effective 
date for most matching programs until January 1, 1990.

                          C. LOCATING RECORDS

    There is no central index of Federal Government records 
about individuals. An individual who wants to inspect records 
about himself or herself must first identify which agency has 
the records. Often, this will not be difficult. For example, an 
individual who was employed by the Federal Government knows 
that the employing agency or the Office of Personnel Management 
maintains personnel files.
    Similarly, an individual who receives veterans' benefits 
will normally find relevant records at the Department of 
Veterans Affairs or at the Defense Department. Tax records are 
maintained by the Internal Revenue Service, Social Security 
records by the Social Security Administration, passport records 
by the State Department, etc.
    For those who are uncertain about which agency has the 
records that are needed, there are several sources of 
information. First, an individual can ask an agency that might 
maintain the records. If that agency does not have the records, 
it may be able to identify the proper agency.
    Second, a government directory such as the United States 
Government Manual \35\ contains a complete list of all Federal 
agencies, a description of agency functions, and the address of 
the agency and its field offices. An agency responsible for 
operating a program normally maintains the records related to 
that program.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \35\ The United States Government Manual is sold by the 
Superintendent of Documents of the U.S. Government Printing Office. 
Virtually every public library should have a copy. An electronic 
version of the Manual may be found on the Office of the Federal 
Register Web site provided at note 24.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Third, a Federal Information Center can help to identify 
government agencies, their functions, and their records. These 
Centers, which are operated by the General Services 
Administration, serve as clearinghouses for information about 
the Federal Government. There are Federal Information Centers 
throughout the country.
    Fourth, every 2 years, the Office of the Federal Register 
publishes a compilation of system of records notices for all 
agencies. These notices contain a complete description of each 
record system maintained by each agency. The compilation is the 
most complete reference for information about Federal agency 
personal information practices.\36\ The information that 
appears in the compilation also appears in various issues of 
the Federal Register.\37\
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    \36\ Each system notice contains the name of the system; its 
location; the categories of individuals covered by the system; the 
categories of records in the system; the legal authority for 
maintenance of the system; the routine disclosures that may be made for 
records in the system; the policies and practices of storing, 
retrieving, accessing, retaining, and disposing of records; the name 
and address of the manager of the system; procedures for requesting 
access to the records; procedures for requesting correction or 
amendment of the records; the source of the information in the system; 
and a description of any disclosure exemptions that may be applied to 
the records in the system.
    \37\ Agencies are required to publish in the Federal Register a 
description of each system of records when the system is established or 
amended. In the past, agencies were required to publish an annual 
compilation in the Federal Register, but that requirement was 
eliminated in 1982. As a result, it will be difficult to find a 
complete list of all systems of records in the Federal Register. Some 
agencies do, however, reprint all system notices from time to time. An 
agency's Privacy Act/FOIA officer may be able to provide more 
information about the agency's publication practices. An electronic 
version of the most recent compilation of Privacy Act regulations and 
systems of records may be found on the Office of the Federal Register 
Web site provided at note 24.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The compilation--formally called Privacy Act Issuances--may 
be difficult to find and hard to use. It does not contain a 
comprehensive index. Copies will be available in some Federal 
depository libraries and possibly some other libraries as well 
as the Web site maintained by the Office of the Federal 
Register (see note 24). Although the compilation is the best 
single source of detailed information about personal records 
maintained by Federal agencies, it is not necessary to consult 
the compilation before making a Privacy Act request. A 
requester is not required to identify the specific system of 
records that contains the information being sought. It is 
sufficient to identify the agency that has the records. Using 
information provided by the requester, the agency will 
determine which system of records has the files that have been 
requested.
    Those who request records under the Privacy Act can help 
the agency by identifying the type of records being sought. 
Large agencies maintain hundreds of different record systems. A 
request can be processed faster if the requester tells the 
agency that he or she was employed by the agency, was the 
recipient of benefits under an agency program, or had other 
specific contacts with the agency.

               D. MAKING A PRIVACY ACT REQUEST FOR ACCESS

    The fastest way to make a Privacy Act request is to 
identify the specific system of records. The request can be 
addressed to the system manager. Few people do this. Instead, 
most people address their requests to the head of the agency 
that has the records or to the agency's Privacy Act/FOIA 
officer. The envelope containing the written request should be 
marked ``Privacy Act/FOIA Request'' in the bottom left-hand 
corner.\38\
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    \38\ All agencies have Privacy Act regulations that describe the 
request process in greater detail. Large agencies may have several 
components, each of which has its own Privacy Act rules. Requesters who 
can find agency Privacy Act regulations in the Code of Federal 
Regulations (available in many libraries and an electronic version may 
be found on the Office of the Federal Register Web site provided in 
note 24) might read these regulations before making a request. A 
requester who follows the agency's specific procedures may receive a 
faster response. However, the simple procedures suggested in this guide 
are adequate to meet the minimum statutory requirements for a Privacy 
Act request.
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    There are three basic elements to a request for records 
under the Privacy Act. First, the letter should state that the 
request is being made under the Privacy Act. Second, the letter 
should include the name, address, and signature of the 
requester. Third, the request should describe the records as 
specifically as possible. Appendix 1 includes a sample Privacy 
Act request letter.
    It is a common practice for an individual seeking records 
about himself or herself to make the request under both the 
Privacy Act of 1974 and the Freedom of Information Act. See the 
discussion in the front of this Guide about which act to use.
    A requester can describe the records by identifying a 
specific system of records, by describing his or her contacts 
with an agency, or by simply asking for all records about 
himself or herself. The broader and less specific a request is, 
the longer it may take for an agency to respond.
    It is a good practice for a requester to describe the type 
of records that he or she expects to find. For example, an 
individual seeking a copy of his service record in the Army 
should state that he was in the Army and include the 
approximate dates of service. This will help the Defense 
Department narrow its search to record systems that are likely 
to contain the information being sought. An individual seeking 
records from an agency may ask that files in specific field 
offices be searched in addition to the agency's central office 
files. Agencies may not routinely search field office records 
without a specific request.
    An agency will generally require a requester to provide 
some proof of identity before records will be disclosed. 
Agencies may have different requirements. Some agencies will 
accept a signature; others may require certification of 
identity by a notarized signature or by a declaration by the 
requester under penalty of perjury. If an individual goes to 
the agency to inspect records, standard personal identification 
may be acceptable. More stringent requirements may apply if the 
records being sought are especially sensitive.
    An agency will inform requesters of any special 
identification requirements. Requesters who need records 
quickly should first consult agency regulations or talk to the 
agency's Privacy Act/FOIA officer to find out how to provide 
adequate identification.
    An individual who visits an agency office to inspect a 
Privacy Act record may bring along a friend or relative to 
review the record. When a requester brings another person, the 
agency may ask the requester to sign a written statement 
authorizing discussion of the record in the presence of that 
person.
    It is a crime to knowingly and willfully request or obtain 
records under the Privacy Act under false pretenses. A request 
for access under the Privacy Act can only be made by the 
subject of the record. An individual cannot make a request 
under the Privacy Act for a record about another person. The 
only exception is for a parent or legal guardian who may 
request records on behalf of a minor or a person who has been 
declared incompetent.

                                E. FEES

    Under the Privacy Act, fees can only be charged for the 
cost of copying records. No fees may be charged for the time it 
takes to search for records or for the time it takes to review 
the records to determine if any exemptions apply. This is a 
major difference from the FOIA. Under the FOIA, fees can 
sometimes be charged to recover search costs and review 
costs.\39\ The different fee structure in the two laws is one 
reason many requesters seeking records about themselves cite 
both laws. This minimizes allowable fees.
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    \39\ An individual seeking records about himself or herself under 
the FOIA should not be charged review charges. The only charges 
applicable under the FOIA are search and copy charges.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Many agencies will not charge fees for making a copy of a 
Privacy Act file, especially when the file is small. If paying 
the copying charges is a problem, the requester should explain 
in the request letter. An agency can waive fees under the 
Privacy Act.

                  F. REQUIREMENTS FOR AGENCY RESPONSES

    Unlike the FOIA, there is no fixed time when an agency must 
respond to a request for access to records under the Privacy 
Act. It is good practice for an agency to acknowledge receipt 
of a Privacy Act request within 10 days and to provide the 
requested records within 30 days.
    At many agencies, FOIA and Privacy Act requests are 
processed by the same personnel. When there is a backlog of 
requests, it takes longer to receive a response. As a practical 
matter, there is little that a requester can do when an agency 
response is delayed. Requesters should be patient.
    Agencies generally process requests in the order in which 
they were received. Some agencies will expedite the processing 
of urgent requests. Anyone with a pressing need for records 
should consult with the agency Privacy Act/FOIA officer about 
how to ask for expedited treatment of requests.

         G. REASONS ACCESS MAY BE DENIED UNDER THE PRIVACY ACT

    Not all records about an individual must be disclosed under 
the Privacy Act. Some records may be withheld to protect 
important government interests such as national security or law 
enforcement.
    The Privacy Act exemptions are different than the 
exemptions of the FOIA. Under the FOIA, any record may be 
withheld from disclosure if it contains exempt information when 
a request is received. The decision to apply a FOIA exemption 
is made only after a request has been made. In contrast, 
Privacy Act exemptions apply not to a record but to a system of 
records. Before an agency can apply a Privacy Act exemption, 
the agency must first issue a regulation stating that there may 
be exempt records in that system of records.
    Without reviewing system notices or agency regulations, it 
is hard to tell whether particular Privacy Act records are 
exempt from disclosure. However, it is a safe assumption that 
any system of records that qualifies for an exemption has been 
exempted by the agency.
    Since most record systems are not exempt, the exemptions 
are not relevant to most requests. Also, agencies do not always 
rely upon available Privacy Act exemptions unless there is a 
specific reason to do so. Thus, some records that could be 
withheld will nevertheless be disclosed upon request.
    Because Privacy Act exemptions are complex and used 
infrequently, most requesters need not worry about them. The 
exemptions are discussed here for those interested in the act's 
details and for reference when an agency withholds records. 
Anyone needing more information about the Privacy Act's 
exemptions can begin by reading the relevant sections of the 
act. The complete text of the act is reprinted in an appendix 
to this Guide.\40\
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    \40\ In 1975, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued 
guidance to Federal agencies on the Privacy Act of 1974. Those 
guidelines are a good source of commentary and explanation for many of 
the provisions of the act. The OMB guidelines can be found at 40 
Federal Register 28948-78 (July 9, 1975), available at 
www.whitehouse.gov/omb/inforeg/
implementation--guidelines.pdf.
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    The Privacy Act's exemptions differ from those of the FOIA 
in another important way. The FOIA is a disclosure law. 
Information exempt under the FOIA is exempt from disclosure 
only. The Privacy Act, however, imposes many separate 
requirements on personal records. Some systems of records are 
exempt from the disclosure requirements, but no system is 
exempt from all Privacy Act requirements.
    For example, no system of records is ever exempt from the 
requirement that a description of the system be published. No 
system of records can be exempted from the limitations on 
disclosure of the records outside of the agency. No system is 
exempt from the requirement to maintain an accounting for 
disclosures. No system is exempt from the restriction against 
the maintenance of unauthorized information on the exercise of 
first amendment rights. All systems are subject to the 
requirement that reasonable efforts be taken to ensure that 
records disclosed outside the agency be accurate, complete, 
timely, and relevant. Each agency must maintain proper 
administrative controls and security for all systems. Finally, 
the Privacy Act's criminal penalties remain fully applicable to 
each system of records.

1. General Exemptions

    There are two general exemptions under the Privacy Act. The 
first applies to all records maintained by the Central 
Intelligence Agency. The second applies to selected records 
maintained by an agency or component whose principal function 
is any activity pertaining to criminal law enforcement. Records 
of criminal law enforcement agencies can be exempt under the 
Privacy Act if the records consist of (A) information compiled 
to identify individual criminal offenders and which consists 
only of identifying data and notations of arrests, the nature 
and disposition of criminal charges, sentencing, confinement, 
release, and parole and probation status; (B) criminal 
investigatory records associated with an identifiable 
individual; or (C) reports identifiable to a particular 
individual compiled at any stage from arrest through release 
from supervision.
    Systems of records subject to the general exemptions may be 
exempted from many of the Privacy Act's requirements. Exemption 
from the act's access and correction provisions is the most 
important. An individual has no right under the Privacy Act to 
ask for a copy of or to seek correction of a record subject to 
the general exemptions.
    In practice, these exemptions are not as expansive as they 
sound. Most agencies that have exempt records will accept and 
process Privacy Act requests. The records will be reviewed on a 
case-by-case basis. Agencies will often disclose any 
information that does not require protection. Agencies also 
tend to follow a similar policy for requests for correction.
    Individuals interested in obtaining records from the 
Central Intelligence Agency or from law enforcement agencies 
should not be discouraged from making requests for access. Even 
if the Privacy Act access exemption is applied, portions of the 
record may still be disclosable under the FOIA. This is a 
primary reason individuals should cite both the Privacy Act and 
the FOIA when requesting records.

2. Specific Exemptions

    There are seven specific Privacy Act exemptions that can be 
applied to systems of records. Records subject to these 
exemptions are not exempt from as many of the act's 
requirements as are the records subject to the general 
exemptions. However, records exempt under the specific 
exemptions are likely to be exempt from the Privacy Act's 
access and correction provisions. Nevertheless, since the 
access and correction exemptions are not always applied when 
available, those seeking records should not be discouraged from 
making a request. Also, the FOIA can be used to seek access to 
records exempt under the Privacy Act.
    The first specific exemption covers record systems 
containing information properly classified in the interest of 
national defense or foreign policy. Classified information is 
also exempt from disclosure under the FOIA and will normally be 
unavailable under both the FOIA and Privacy Acts.
    The second specific exemption applies to systems of records 
containing investigatory material compiled for law enforcement 
purposes other than material covered by the general law 
enforcement exemption. The specific law enforcement exemption 
is limited when--as a result of the maintenance of the 
records--an individual is denied any right, privilege, or 
benefit to which he or she would be entitled by Federal law or 
for which he or she would otherwise be entitled. In such a 
case, disclosure is required except where disclosure would 
reveal the identity of a confidential source who furnished 
information to the government under an express promise that the 
identity of the source would be held in confidence. If the 
information was collected from a confidential source before the 
effective date of the Privacy Act (September 27, 1975), an 
implied promise of confidentiality is sufficient to permit 
withholding of the identity of the source.\41\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \41\ This distinction between express and implied promises of 
confidentiality is repeated throughout the specific exemptions of the 
Privacy Act.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The third specific exemption applies to systems of records 
maintained in connection with providing protective services to 
the President of the United States or other individuals who 
receive protection from the Secret Service.
    The fourth specific exemption applies to systems of records 
required by statute to be maintained and used solely as 
statistical records.
    The fifth specific exemption covers investigatory material 
compiled solely to determine suitability, eligibility, or 
qualifications for Federal civilian employment, military 
service, Federal contracts, or access to classified 
information. However, this exemption applies only to the extent 
that disclosure of information would reveal the identity of a 
confidential source who provided the information under a 
promise of confidentiality.
    The sixth specific exemption applies to systems of records 
that contain testing or examination material used solely to 
determine individual qualifications for appointment or 
promotion in Federal service, but only when disclosure would 
compromise the objectivity or fairness of the testing or 
examination process. Effectively, this exemption permits 
withholding of questions used in employment tests.
    The seventh specific exemption covers evaluation material 
used to determine potential for promotion in the armed 
services. The material is only exempt to the extent that 
disclosure would reveal the identity of a confidential source 
who provided the information under a promise of 
confidentiality.

3. Medical Records

    Medical records maintained by Federal agencies--for 
example, records at Veterans Administration hospitals--are not 
formally exempt from the Privacy Act's access provisions. 
However, the Privacy Act authorizes a special procedure for 
medical records that operates, at least in part, like an 
exemption.
    Agencies may deny individuals direct access to medical 
records, including psychological records, if the agency deems 
it necessary. An agency normally reviews medical records 
requested by an individual. If the agency determines that 
direct disclosure is unwise, it can arrange for disclosure to a 
physician selected by the individual or possibly to another 
person chosen by the individual.

4. Litigation Records

    The Privacy Act's access provisions include a general 
limitation on access to civil litigation records. The act does 
not require an agency to disclose to an individual any 
information compiled in reasonable anticipation of a civil 
action or proceeding. This limitation operates like an 
exemption, although there is no requirement that the exemption 
be applied by regulation to a system of records before it can 
be used.

        H. ADMINISTRATIVE APPEAL PROCEDURES FOR DENIAL OF ACCESS

    Unlike the FOIA, the Privacy Act does not provide for an 
administrative appeal of the denial of access. However, many 
agencies have established procedures that will allow Privacy 
Act requesters to appeal a denial of access without going to 
court. An administrative appeal is often allowed under the 
Privacy Act, even though it is not required, because many 
individuals cite both the FOIA and Privacy Act when making a 
request. The FOIA provides specifically for an administrative 
appeal, and agencies are required to consider an appeal under 
the FOIA.
    When a Privacy Act request for access is denied, agencies 
usually inform the requester of any appeal rights that are 
available. If no information on appeal rights is included in 
the denial letter, the requester should ask the Privacy Act/
FOIA officer. Unless an agency has established an alternative 
procedure, it is possible that an appeal filed directly with 
the head of the agency will be considered by the agency.
    When a request for access is denied under the Privacy Act, 
the agency explains the reason for the denial. The explanation 
must name the system of records and explain which exemption is 
applicable to the system. An appeal may be made on the basis 
that the record is not exempt, that the system of records has 
not been properly exempted, or that the record is exempt but no 
harm to an important interest will result if the record is 
disclosed.
    There are three basic elements to a Privacy Act appeal 
letter. First, the letter should state that the appeal is being 
made under the Privacy Act of 1974. If the FOIA was cited when 
the request for access was made, the letter should state that 
the appeal is also being made under the FOIA. This is important 
because the FOIA grants requesters statutory appeal rights.
    Second, a Privacy Act appeal letter should identify the 
denial that is being appealed and the records that were 
withheld. The appeal letter should also explain why the denial 
of access was improper or unnecessary.
    Third, the appeal should include the requester's name and 
address. It is a good practice for a requester to also include 
a telephone number when making an appeal.
    Appendix 1 includes a sample letter of appeal.

               I. AMENDING RECORDS UNDER THE PRIVACY ACT

    The Privacy Act grants an important right in addition to 
the ability to inspect records. The act permits an individual 
to request a correction of a record that is not accurate, 
relevant, timely, or complete. This remedy allows an individual 
to correct errors and to prevent incorrect information from 
being disseminated by the agency or used unfairly against the 
individual.
    The right to seek a correction extends only to records 
subject to the Privacy Act. Also, an individual can only 
correct errors contained in a record that pertains to himself 
or herself. Records disclosed under the FOIA cannot be amended 
through the Privacy Act unless the records are also subject to 
the Privacy Act. Records about unrelated events or about other 
people cannot be amended unless the records are in a Privacy 
Act file maintained under the name of the individual who is 
seeking to make the correction.
    A request to amend a record should be in writing. Agency 
regulations explain the procedure in greater detail, but the 
process is not complicated. A letter requesting an amendment of 
a record will normally be addressed to the Privacy Act/FOIA 
officer of the agency or to the agency official responsible for 
the maintenance of the record system containing the erroneous 
information. The envelope containing the request should be 
marked ``Privacy Act Amendment Request'' on the lower left 
corner.
    There are five basic elements to a request for amending a 
Privacy Act record.
    First, the letter should state that it is a request to 
amend a record under the Privacy Act of 1974.
    Second, the request should identify the specific record and 
the specific information in the record for which an amendment 
is being sought. Copies of the records sought to be amended may 
be included.
    Third, the request should state why the information is not 
accurate, relevant, timely, or complete. Supporting evidence 
may be included with the request.
    Fourth, the request should state what new or additional 
information, if any, should be included in place of the 
erroneous information. Evidence of the validity of the new or 
additional information should be included. If the information 
in the file is wrong and needs to be removed rather than 
supplemented or corrected, the request should make this clear.
    Fifth, the request should include the name and address of 
the requester. It is a good idea for a requester to include a 
telephone number.
    Appendix 1 includes a sample letter requesting amendment of 
a Privacy Act record.

            J. APPEALS AND REQUIREMENTS FOR AGENCY RESPONSES

    An agency that receives a request for amendment under the 
Privacy Act must acknowledge receipt of the request within 10 
days (not including Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays). 
The agency must promptly rule on the request.
    The agency may make the amendment requested. If so, the 
agency must notify any person or agency to which the record had 
previously been disclosed of the correction.
    If the agency refuses to make the change requested, the 
agency must inform the requester of: (1) the agency's refusal 
to amend the record; (2) the reason for refusing to amend the 
request; and (3) the procedures for requesting a review of the 
denial. The agency must provide the name and business address 
of the official responsible for conducting the review.
    An agency must decide an appeal of a denial of a request 
for amendment within 30 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and 
legal holidays), unless the time period is extended by the 
agency for good cause. If the appeal is granted, the record 
will be corrected.
    If the appeal is denied, the agency must inform the 
requester of the right to judicial review. In addition, a 
requester whose appeal has been denied also has the right to 
place in the agency file a concise statement of disagreement 
with the information that was the subject of the request for 
amendment.
    When a statement of disagreement has been filed and an 
agency is disclosing the disputed information, the agency must 
mark the information and provide copies of the statement of 
disagreement. The agency may also include a concise statement 
of its reasons for not making the requested amendments. The 
agency must also give a copy of the statement of disagreement 
to any person or agency to whom the record had previously been 
disclosed.

                     K. FILING FOR JUDICIAL APPEAL

    The Privacy Act provides a civil remedy whenever an agency 
denies access to a record or refuses to amend a record. An 
individual may sue an agency if the agency fails to maintain 
records with accuracy, relevance, timeliness, and completeness 
as is necessary to assure fairness in any agency determination 
and the agency makes a determination that is adverse to the 
individual. An individual may also sue an agency if the agency 
fails to comply with any other Privacy Act provision in a 
manner that has an adverse effect on the individual.
    The Privacy Act protects a wide range of rights about 
personal records maintained by Federal agencies. The most 
important are the right to inspect records and the right to 
seek correction of records. Other rights have also been 
mentioned here, and still others can be found in the text of 
the act. Most of these rights can become the subject of 
litigation.
    An individual may file a lawsuit against an agency in the 
Federal District Court in which the individual lives, in which 
the records are situated, or in the District of Columbia. A 
lawsuit must be filed within 2 years from the date on which the 
basis for the lawsuit arose.
    Most individuals require the assistance of an attorney to 
file a lawsuit. An individual who files a lawsuit and 
substantially prevails may be awarded reasonable attorney fees 
and litigation costs reasonably incurred. Some requesters may 
be able to handle their own case without an attorney. Since 
this is not a litigation guide, details about the judicial 
appeal process have not been included. Anyone considering 
filing a Privacy Act lawsuit can begin by reviewing the 
provisions of the Privacy Act on civil remedies.\42\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \42\ See note 33.


                          A P P E N D I X E S

                              ----------                              


             Appendix 1.--Sample Request and Appeal Letters

              A. FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST LETTER

      
Agency Head [or Freedom of Information Act Officer]
Name of Agency
Address of Agency
City, State, Zip Code

Re: Freedom of Information Act Request

Dear:

    This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

    I request that a copy of the following documents [or 
documents containing the following information] be provided to 
me: [identify the documents or information as specifically as 
possible].

    In order to help to determine my status for purposes of 
determining the applicability of any fees, you should know that 
I am (insert a suitable description of the requester and the 
purpose of the request).

                [Sample requester descriptions]:

        a representative of the news media affiliated with the 
        ____ newspaper (magazine, television station, etc.), 
        and this request is made as part of news gathering and 
        not for a commercial use.

        affiliated with an educational or noncommercial 
        scientific institution, and this request is made for a 
        scholarly or scientific purpose and not for a 
        commercial use.

        an individual seeking information for personal use and 
        not for a commercial use.

        affiliated with a private corporation and am seeking 
        information for use in the company's business.]

    [Optional] I am willing to pay fees for this request up to 
a maximum of $__. If you estimate that the fees will exceed 
this limit, please inform me first.

    [Optional] I request a waiver of all fees for this request. 
Disclosure of the requested information to me is in the public 
interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to 
public understanding of the operations or activities of the 
government and is not primarily in my commercial interest. 
[Include specific details, including how the requested 
information will be disseminated by the requester for public 
benefit.]

    [Optional] I request that the information I seek be 
provided in electronic format, and I would like to receive it 
on a personal computer disk [or a CD-ROM].

    [Optional] I ask that my request receive expedited 
processing because ____. [Include specific details concerning 
your ``compelling need,'' such as being someone ``primarily 
engaged in disseminating information'' and specifics concerning 
your ``urgency to inform the public concerning actual or 
alleged Federal Government activity.'']

    [Optional] I also include a telephone number at which I can 
be contacted during the hours of ____, if necessary, to discuss 
any aspect of my request.

    Thank you for your consideration of this request.

                                        Sincerely,



                                        Name
                                        Address
                                        City, State, Zip Code
                                        Telephone number 
                                        [Optional]
      

              B. FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT APPEAL LETTER

      
Agency Head or Appeal Officer
Name of Agency
Address of Agency
City, State, Zip Code

Re: Freedom of Information Act Appeal

Dear     :

    This is an appeal under the Freedom of Information Act.

    On (date), I requested documents under the Freedom of 
Information Act. My request was assigned the following 
identification number: ____. On (date), I received a response 
to my request in a letter signed by (name of official). I 
appeal the denial of my request.

    [Optional] I enclose a copy of that response letter.

    [Optional] The documents that were withheld must be 
disclosed under the FOIA because (provide details you would 
want an agency head or appeal officer to consider when deciding 
your appeal.)

    [Optional] I appeal the decision to deny my request for a 
waiver of fees. I believe that I am entitled to a waiver of 
fees. Disclosure of the documents I requested is in the public 
interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to 
public understanding of the operations or activities of the 
government and is not primarily in my commercial interest. 
(Provide details)

    [Optional] I appeal the decision to require me to pay 
review costs for this request. I am not seeking the documents 
for a commercial use. (Provide details)

    [Optional] I appeal the decision to require me to pay 
search and/or review charges for this request. I am a 
representative of the news media seeking information as part of 
news gathering and not for commercial use.

    [Optional] I appeal the decision to require me to pay 
search and/or review charges for this request. I am a 
representative of an educational institution seeking 
information for a scholarly purpose.

    [Optional] I appeal the decision to require me to accept 
the information I seek in a paper or hardcopy format. I 
requested this information, which the agency maintains in an 
electronic form, in an electronic format, specifically on a 
personal computer disk [or a CD-ROM].
    [Optional] I also include a telephone number at which I can 
be contacted during the hours of ____, if necessary, to discuss 
any aspect of my appeal.

    Thank you for your consideration of this appeal.

                                        Sincerely,



                                        Name
                                        Address
                                        City, State, Zip Code
                                        Telephone number 
                                        [Optional]
      

                C. PRIVACY ACT REQUEST FOR ACCESS LETTER

      
Privacy Act or Freedom of Information Officer
Name of Agency
Address of Agency
City, State, Zip Code

Re: Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act Request for 
Access

Dear     :

    This is a request under the Privacy Act of 1974 and the 
Freedom of Information Act.

    I request a copy of any records [or specifically named 
records] about me maintained at your agency.

    [Optional] To help you to locate my records, I have had the 
following contacts with your agency: [mention job applications, 
periods of employment, loans or agency programs applied for, 
etc.].

    [Optional] I am willing to pay fees for this request up to 
a maximum of $__. If you estimate that the fees will exceed 
this limit please inform me first.

    [Optional] Enclosed is [a notarized signature or other 
identifying document] that will verify my identity.

    [Optional] I also include a telephone number at which I can 
be contacted during the hours of ____, if necessary, to discuss 
any aspect of my request.

    Thank you for your consideration of this request.

                                        Sincerely,



                                        Name
                                        Address
                                        City, State, Zip Code
                                        Telephone number 
                                        [Optional]
      

                 D. PRIVACY ACT DENIAL OF ACCESS APPEAL

      
Agency Head or Appeal Officer
Name of Agency
Address of Agency
City, State, Zip Code

Re: Appeal of Denial of Privacy Act and Freedom of Information 
Act Access Request

Dear     :

    This is an appeal under the Privacy Act and the Freedom of 
Information Act of the denial of my request for access to 
records.

    On (date), I requested access to records under the Privacy 
Act of 1974. My request was assigned the following 
identification number: ____. On (date), I received a response 
to my request in a letter signed by (name of official). I 
appeal the denial of my request.

    [Optional] I enclose a copy of the response letter.

    [Optional] The records that were withheld should be 
disclosed to me because (provide details you would want an 
agency head or appeal officer to consider when deciding your 
appeal.)

    [Optional] Please consider that this appeal is also made 
under the Freedom of Information Act. Please provide any 
additional information that may be available under the FOIA.

    [Optional] I also include a telephone number at which I can 
be contacted during the hours of ____, if necessary, to discuss 
any aspect of my appeal.

    Thank you for your consideration of this appeal.

                                        Sincerely,



                                        Name
                                        Address
                                        City, State, Zip Code
                                        Telephone number 
                                        [Optional]
      

                E. PRIVACY ACT REQUEST TO AMEND RECORDS

      
Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act Officer
Name of Agency
Address of Agency
City, State, Zip Code

Re: Privacy Act Request to Amend Records

Dear     :

    This is a request under the Privacy Act to amend records 
about myself maintained by your agency.

    I believe that the following is not correct: [Describe the 
incorrect information as specifically as possible].

    The information is not (accurate) (relevant) (timely) 
(complete) because (provide details you would want an agency 
official to consider when reviewing your request.)

    [Optional] Enclosed are copies of documents that show that 
the information is incorrect.

    [Optional] I also include a telephone number at which I can 
be contacted during the hours of ____, if necessary, to discuss 
any aspect of my request.

    I request that the information be [deleted] [changed to 
read:].

    Thank you for your consideration of this request.

                                        Sincerely,



                                        Name
                                        Address
                                        City, State, Zip Code
                                        Telephone number 
                                        [Optional]
      

           F. PRIVACY ACT APPEAL OF REFUSAL TO AMEND RECORDS

      
Agency Head or Appeal Officer
Name of Agency
Address of Agency
City, State, Zip Code

Re: Privacy Act Appeal of Refusal to Amend Records

Dear     :

    This is an appeal under the Privacy Act of the refusal of 
your agency to amend records as I requested.

    On (date), I requested that records about me be amended. My 
request was assigned the following identification number ____. 
On (date), I was informed by (name of official) that my request 
was rejected. I appeal the rejection of my request.

    The rejection of my request for amendment was wrong because 
(provide details you would want an agency head or appeal 
officer to consider when deciding your appeal.)

    [Optional] I enclose additional evidence that shows that 
the records are incorrect and that the amendment I requested is 
appropriate.

    [Optional] I also include a telephone number at which I can 
be contacted during the hours of ____, if necessary, to discuss 
any aspect of my appeal.

    Thank you for your consideration of this appeal.

                                        Sincerely,



                                        Name
                                        Address
                                        City, State, Zip Code
                                        Telephone number 
                                        [Optional]
Appendix 2.--Bibliography of Congressional Publications on the Freedom 
                           of Information Act


         CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS, REPORTS, DOCUMENTS, AND PRINTS


              (LISTED CHRONOLOGICALLY BY PUBLICATION DATE)

    Note on availability: Most of these publications are out of print. 
Copies of all congressional publications should be available at Federal 
Depository Libraries located throughout the country.

1964

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Clarifying and Protecting the 
Right of the Public to Information and for Other Purposes. S. Rept. 
1219, 88th Congress, 2d Session. 1964.

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Freedom of Information. 
Hearings, 98th Congress, 1st Session. 1964.

1965

    House Committee on Government Operations. Federal Public Records 
Law. Hearings, 89th Congress, 2d Session. 1965.

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Administrative Procedure Act. 
Hearings, 89th Congress, 1st Session. 1965.

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Clarifying and Protecting the 
Right of the Public to Information, and for Other Purposes. S. Rept. 
813, 89th Congress, 1st Session. 1965.

1966

    House Committee on Government Operations. Clarifying and Protecting 
the Right of the Public to Information. H. Rept. 1497, 89th Congress, 
2d Session. 1966.

1967

    House Committee on the Judiciary. Codification of Public Law 89-
487. H. Rept. 125, 90th Congress, 1st Session. 1967.

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Amending Section 552 of Title 5, 
United States Code. S. Rept. 248, 90th Congress, 1st Session. 1967.

1968

    House Committee on Government Operations. Freedom of Information 
Act (Compilation and Analysis of Departmental Regulations Implementing 
5 U.S.C. 552). Committee print, 90th Congress, 2d Session. 1968.

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The Freedom of Information Act 
(Ten Months Review). Committee print, 90th Congress, 2d Session. 1968.

1972

    House Committee on Government Operations. Administration of the 
Freedom of Information Act. H. Rept. 92-1419, 92nd Congress, 2d 
Session. 1972.

    House Committee on Government Operations. Sale or Distribution of 
Mailing Lists By Federal Agencies. Hearings, 92nd Congress, 2d Session. 
1972.

    House Committee on Government Operations. U.S. Government 
Information Policies and Practices--Administration and Operation of the 
Freedom of Information Act. (Parts 4-6). Hearings, 92nd Congress, 2d 
Session. 1972.

    House Committee on Government Operations. U.S. Government 
Information Policies and Practices--Security Classification Problems 
Involving Subsection (b)(1) of the Freedom of Information Act. (Part 
7). Hearings, 92nd Congress, 2d Session. 1972.

1973

    House Committee on Government Operations. Availability of 
Information to Congress. Hearings, 93rd Congress, 1st Session. 1973.

    House Committee on Government Operations. Executive Classification 
of Information--Security Classification Problems Involving Exemption 
(b)(1) of the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552). H. Rept. 93-
221, 93rd Congress, 1st Session. 1973.

    House Committee on Government Operations. The Freedom of 
Information Act. Hearings, 93rd Congress, 1st Session. 1973.

    Senate Committee on Government Operations and Committee on the 
Judiciary. Executive Privilege, Secrecy in Government, Freedom of 
Information. Hearings, 93rd Congress, 1st Session. 1973.

1974

    House Committee on Government Operations. Amending Section 552 of 
Title 5, United States Code, Known as the Freedom of Information Act. 
H. Rept. 93-876, 93rd Congress, 2d Session. 1974.

    House Committee on Government Operations. Amending the Freedom of 
Information Act to Require that Information Be Made Available to 
Congress. H. Rept. 93-990, 93rd Congress, 2d Session. 1974.

    House Committee on Government Operations. Security Classification 
Reform. Hearings, 93rd Congress, 2d Session. 1974.

    House of Representatives. Message from the President of the United 
States. Vetoing H.R. 12471, Amend Freedom of Information Act. H. Doc. 
93-383. 93rd Congress, 2d Session. 1974.

    House/Senate Committee of Conference. Freedom of Information Act 
Amendments. H. Rept. 93-1380 or S. Rept. 93-1200, 93rd Congress, 2d 
Session. 1974.

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Amending the Freedom of 
Information Act. S. Rept. 93-854, 93rd Congress, 2d Session. 1974.

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Freedom of Information Act 
Source Book: Legislative Materials, Cases, Articles. S. Doc. 93-82, 
93rd Congress. 2d Session. 1974.

1975

    House Committee on Government Operations and Senate Committee on 
the Judiciary. Freedom of Information Act and Amendments of 1974 
(Public Law 93-502). Source Book: Legislative History, Texts, and Other 
Documents. Joint committee print, 94th Congress, 1st Session. 1975.

1977

    House Committee on Government Operations. Business Record Exemption 
of the Freedom of Information Act. Hearings, 95th Congress, 1st 
Session. 1977.

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Freedom of Information Act. 
Hearings, 95th Congress, 1st Session. 1977.

1978

    House Committee on Government Operations. FBI Compliance with the 
Freedom of Information Act. Hearing, 95th Congress, 2d Session. 1978.

    House Committee on Government Operations. Freedom of Information 
Act Requests for Business Data and Reverse-FOIA Lawsuits. H. Rept. 95-
1382, 95th Congress, 2d Session. 1978.

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The Erosion of Law Enforcement 
Intelligence and Its Impact on the Public Security. Committee print, 
95th Congress, 2d Session. 1978.

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The Erosion of Law Enforcement 
Intelligence and Its Impact on the Public Security. Hearings, 95th 
Congress, 1st and 2d Sessions. 1977-1978.

1979

    House Committee on Government Operations. Security Classification 
Exemption to the Freedom of Information Act. Hearing, 95th Congress, 
1st Session. 1979.

1980

    House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Impact of the 
Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act on Intelligence 
Activities. Hearing, 96th Congress, 1st Session. 1980.

    Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. Oversight of the 
Administration of the Federal Freedom of Information Act. Hearings, 
96th Congress, 2d Session. 1980.

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Agency Implementation of the 
1974 Amendments to the Freedom of Information Act. Committee print, 
95th Congress, 2d Session. 1980.

1981

    House Committee on Government Operations. Freedom of Information 
Act Oversight. Hearings, 97th Congress, 1st Session. 1981.

    House Committee on Government Operations. The Freedom of 
Information Act: Central Intelligence Agency Exemptions. Hearings, 96th 
Congress, 2d Session. 1981.

    House Committee on Government Operations. The Freedom of 
Information Act: Federal Law Enforcement Implementation. Hearing, 96th 
Congress, 1st Session. 1981.

1982

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Freedom of Information Act. 
Hearings, 97th Congress, 1st Session. 1982.

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The Freedom of Information 
Reform Act. S. Rept. 97-690, 97th Congress, 2d Session. 1982.

1983

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Freedom of Information Reform 
Act. S. Rept. 98-221, 98th Congress, 1st Session. 1983.

1984

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Freedom of Information Reform 
Act. Hearings, 98th Congress, 1st Session. 1984.

1985

    House Committee on Government Operations. The Freedom of 
Information Reform Act. Hearings, 98th Congress, 2d Session. 1985.

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Amendments to the Freedom of 
Information Act. Hearing, 98th Congress, 2d Session. 1985.

1986

    House Committee on Government Operations. Freedom of Information 
Act Amendments of 1986. Hearing, 99th Congress, 2d Session. 1986.

    House Committee on Government Operations. Freedom of Information 
Act Amendments of 1986. H. Rept. 99-832, 99th Congress, 2d Session. 
1986.

1988

    House Committee on Government Operations. FOIA: Alternate Dispute 
Resolution Proposals. Hearings, 100th Congress, 1st Session. 1988.
1989

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The Freedom of Information Act. 
Hearing, 100th Congress, 2d Session. 1989.

1990

    House Committee on Government Operations. Federal Information 
Dissemination Policies and Practices. Hearings, 101st Congress, 1st 
Session. 1990.

    House Committee on Government Operations. Paperwork Reduction and 
Federal Information Resources Management Act of 1990. H. Rept. 101-927, 
101st Congress, 2d Session. 1990.

1991

    House Committee on Government Operations, Creative Ways of Using 
and Disseminating Federal Information. Hearings, 102d Congress, 1st and 
2d Sessions. 1991, 1992.

1992

    House Committee on Government Operations. Assassination Materials 
Disclosure Act of 1992. H. Rept. 102-624 Part 1, 102d Congress, 2d 
Session. 1992.

    House Committee on the Judiciary. Assassination Materials 
Disclosure Act of 1992. Hearing, 102d Congress, 2d Session. 1992.

    House Committee on the Judiciary. Assassination Materials 
Disclosure Act of 1992. H. Rept. 102-624 Part 2, 102d Congress, 2d 
Session. 1992.

    Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. The Assassination 
Materials Disclosure Act of 1992. Hearing, 102d Congress, 2d Session. 
1992.

    Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. Assassination Materials 
Disclosure Act of 1992. S. Rept. 102-328, 102d Congress, 2d Session. 
1992.

1993

    House Committee on Government Operations. Assassination Materials 
Disclosure Act of 1992. Hearings, 103d Congress, 2d Session. 1993.

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The Electronic Freedom of 
Information Improvement Act. Hearing, 103d Congress, 2d Session. 1993.

1994

    House Committee on Government Operations. The Effectiveness of 
Public Law 102-526, The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records 
Collection Act of 1992. Hearing, 103d Congress, 1st Session. 1994.

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Electronic Freedom of 
Information Improvement Act of 1994. S. Rept. 103-365, 103d Congress, 
2d Session. 1994.

1996

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Electronic Freedom of 
Information Improvement Act of 1995. S. Rept. 104-272, 104th Congress, 
2d Session. 1996.

    House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight. Electronic 
Freedom of Information Amendments of 1996. H. Rept. 104-795, 104th 
Congress, 2d Session. 1996.

1998

    House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight. Implementation 
of the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996: Is 
Access to Government Information Improving? Hearing, 105th Congress, 2d 
Session. 1998.
1999

    House Committee on Government Reform. H.R. 88, Regarding Research 
Data Available Under the Freedom of Information Act. Hearing, 106th 
Congress, 1st Session. 1999.

2000

    House Committee on Government Reform. Agency Response to the 
Electronic Freedom of Information Act. Hearing, 106th Congress, 2d 
Session. 2000.

2005

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Openness in Government and 
Freedom of Information: Examining the OPEN Government Act of 2005. 
Hearing, 109th Congress, 1st Session. 2005.

    House Committee on Government Reform. Information Policy in the 
21st Century--A Review of FOIA. Hearing, 109th Congress, 1st Session. 
2005.
Appendix 3.--Bibliography of Congressional Publications on the Privacy 
                              Act of 1974


         CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS, REPORTS, DOCUMENTS, AND PRINTS


              (LISTED CHRONOLOGICALLY BY PUBLICATION DATE)

    Note on availability: Most of these publications are out of print. 
Copies of all congressional publications should be available at Federal 
Depository Libraries located throughout the country.

1972

    House Committee on Government Operations. Records Maintained By 
Government Agencies. Hearings, 92nd Congress, 2d Session. 1972.

1974

    House Committee on Government Operations. Access to Records. 
Hearings, 93rd Congress, 2d Session. 1974.

    House Committee on Government Operations. Federal Information 
Systems and Plans--Federal Use and Development of Advanced Information 
Technology. Hearings, 93rd Congress, 1st and 2d Sessions. 1973-1974.

    House Committee on Government Operations. Privacy Act of 1974. H. 
Rept. 93-1416, 93rd Congress, 2d Session. 1974.

    Senate Committee on Government Operations. Protecting Individual 
Privacy in Federal Gathering, Use and Disclosure of Information. S. 
Rept. 93-1183, 93rd Congress, 2d Session. 1974.

    Senate Committee on Government Operations. Materials Pertaining to 
S. 3418 and Protecting Individual Privacy in Federal Gathering, Use and 
Disclosure of Information. Committee print, 93rd Congress, 2d Session. 
1974.

    Senate Committee on Government Operations and Committee on the 
Judiciary. Privacy: The Collection, Use, and Computerization of 
Personal Data. Joint hearings, 93rd Congress, 2d Session. 1974.

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Federal Data Banks and 
Constitutional Rights. [Summary.] Committee print, 93rd Congress, 2d 
Session. 1974.

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Federal Data Banks and 
Constitutional Rights. Committee print, 93rd Congress, 2d Session. 
1974. 6 v.

1975

    House Committee on Government Operations. Central Intelligence 
Agency Exemption in the Privacy Act of 1974. Hearings, 94th Congress, 
1st Session. 1975.

    House Committee on Government Operations. Implementation of the 
Privacy Act of 1974: Data Banks. Hearing, 94th Congress, 1st Session. 
1975.

1976

    House Committee on Government Operations. Notification to Victims 
of Improper Intelligence Agency Activities. Hearings, 94th Congress, 2d 
Session. 1976.

    Senate Committee on Government Operations and House Committee on 
Government Operations. Legislative History of the Privacy Act of 1974, 
S. 3418 (Public Law 93-579): Source Book on Privacy. Joint committee 
print, 94th Congress, 2d Session. 1976.

1977

    Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and House Committee on 
Government Operations. Final Report of the Privacy Protection Study 
Commission. Joint hearing, 95th Congress, 1st Session. 1977.
1978

    House Committee on Government Operations. Privacy and 
Confidentiality Report and Final Recommendations of the Commission on 
Federal Paperwork. Hearing, 95th Congress, 1st Session. 1978.

    House Committee on Government Operations. Right to Privacy 
Proposals of the Privacy Protection Study Commission. Hearings, 95th 
Congress, 2d Session. 1978.

1980

    House Committee on Government Operations. Federal Privacy of 
Medical Information Act. H. Rept 96-832 Part 1, 96th Congress, 2d 
Session. 1980.

    House Committee on Government Operations. Privacy of Medical 
Records. Hearings, 96th Congress, 1st Session. 1980.

    House Committee on Government Operations. Public Reaction to 
Privacy Issues. Hearing, 96th Congress, 1st Session. 1980.

    House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. Federal Privacy 
of Medical Information Act. H. Rept 96-832 Part 2, 96th Congress, 2d 
Session. 1980.

    House Committee on Ways and Means. Description and Brief Analysis 
of H.R. 5935, Federal Privacy of Medical Information Act. Committee 
print, 96th Congress, 2d Session. 1980.

    House Committee on Ways and Means. Federal Privacy of Medical 
Information Act. Hearing, 96th Congress, 2d Session. 1980.

    House Committee on Ways and Means. Federal Privacy of Medical 
Information Act, H.R. 5935. Committee print, 96th Congress, 2d Session. 
1980.

1981

    House Committee on Government Operations. Confidentiality of 
Insurance Records. Hearings, 96th Congress, 1st and 2d Sessions. 1981.

    House Committee on Government Operations. Debt Collection Act of 
1981. Hearing, 97th Congress, 1st Session. 1981.

    House Committee on Government Operations. Privacy Act Amendments. 
H. Rept. 97-147 Part 1, 97th Congress, 1st Session. 1981.

1983

    House Committee on Government Operations. Oversight of the Privacy 
Act of 1974. Hearings, 98th Congress, 1st Session. 1983.

    House Committee on Government Operations. Who Cares About Privacy? 
Oversight of the Privacy Act of 1974 by the Office of Management and 
Budget and by the Congress. H. Rept. 98-455, 98th Congress, 1st 
Session. 1983.

    Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. Oversight of Computer 
Matching to Detect Fraud and Mismanagement in Government Programs. 
Hearings, 97th Congress, 2d Session. 1983.

1984

    House Committee on Government Operations. Privacy and 1984: Public 
Opinions on Privacy Issues. Hearing, 98th Congress, 1st Session. 1984.

    Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. Computer Matching: 
Taxpayer Records. Hearing, 98th Congress, 2d Session. 1984.

1986

    Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. Computer Matching and 
Privacy Protection Act of 1986. Hearing, 99th Congress, 2d Session. 
1986.

1987

    House Committee on Government Operations. Computer Matching and 
Privacy Protection Act of 1987. Hearing, 100th Congress, 1st Session. 
1987.
1988

    House Committee on Government Operations. Computer Matching and 
Privacy Protection Act of 1988. H. Rept. 100-802, 100th Congress, 2d 
Session. 1988.

1990

    House Committee on Government Operations. Computer Matching and 
Privacy Protection Amendments of 1990. Hearing, 101st Congress, 2d 
Session. 1990.

    House Committee on Government Operations. Computer Matching and 
Privacy Protection Amendments of 1990. H. Rept. 101-768, 101st 
Congress, 2d Session. 1990.

    House Committee on Government Operations. Data Protection, 
Computers, and Changing Information Practices. Hearing, 101st Congress, 
2d Session. 1990.

1991

    House Committee on Government Operations. Domestic and 
International Data Protection Issues. Hearing, 102d Congress, 1st 
Session. 1991.

1992

    House Committee on Government Operations. Designing Genetic 
Information Policy: The Need for an Independent Policy Review of the 
Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of the Human Genome Project. H. 
Rept. 102-478, 102d Congress, 2d Session. 1992.

2000

    House Committee on Government Reform. H.R. 4049, To Establish the 
Commission for the Comprehensive Study of Privacy Protection. Hearing, 
106th Congress, 2d Session. 2000.

    House Committee on Government Reform. H.R. 220, The Freedom and 
Privacy Restoration Act. Hearing, 106th Congress, 2d Session. 2000.

    House Committee on Government Reform. The Privacy Act and the 
Presidency. Hearing, 106th Congress, 2d Session. 2000.
  Appendix 4.--Select Bibliography of Non-Congressional Materials on 
      Using the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act of 1974

    Note on availability: These material are periodically updated and 
issued in revised versions. The versions listed here were available at 
the time that this Guide was prepared. Some are available from Web 
sites; some are available for purchase from their publisher or, in the 
case of Department of Justice documents, from the Superintendent of 
Documents at the Government Printing Office.

    Burt A. Braverman, Frances J. Chetwynd, and Harry A. Hammitt, 
Getting and Protecting Competitive Business Information: A Business 
Guide to Using the Freedom of Information Act (Management Concepts, 
Inc., 1997).

    Harry A. Hammitt, ed, Litigation Under the Federal Open Government 
Laws 2004 (Electronic Privacy Information Center, 2004).

    National Security Archive, ``How to Make a FOIA Request,'' 
available at http://www.gwu.edu/.nsarchiv/nsa/foia/howtofoia.html.

    James T. O'Reilly, Federal Information Disclosure, 3d edition, 2 
vols. (West Group, 2000 with pocket updates).

    Public Citizen, Freedom of Information Clearinghouse, 
``Introduction to the Freedom of Information Act'' and other resources, 
available at http://www.citizen.org/litigation/free--info/.

    Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, How to Use the 
Federal FOI Act (9th ed., June 2004); purchase and other information 
available at http://www.rcfp.org/foi.html.

    U.S. Department of Justice, ``Department of Justice Freedom of 
Information Act Reference Guide'' (April 2005 edition), available at 
http://www.usdoj.gov/04foia/referenceguidemay99.htm.

    U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Information and Privacy, 
Freedom of Information Case List (May 2002 edition), available at 
http://www.usdoj.gov/04foia/cl-tofc.html.

    U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Information and Privacy, 
Freedom of Information Act Guide and Privacy Act Overview (May 2004 
edition), Guide available at http://www.usdoj.gov/oip/foi-act.htm and 
Overview, available at http://www.usdoj.gov/04foia/
04--7--1.html.
          Appendix 5.--Text of the Freedom of Information Act


TITLE 5, UNITED STATES CODE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



PART I--THE AGENCIES GENERALLY

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


CHAPTER 5--ADMINISTRATIVE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



SUBCHAPTER II--ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



Sec. 552. Public information; agency rules, opinions, orders, records, 
                    and proceedings

    (a) Each agency shall make available to the public 
information as follows:
    (1) Each agency shall separately state and currently 
publish in the Federal Register for the guidance of the 
public--
            (A) descriptions of its central and field 
        organization and the established places at which, the 
        employees (and in the case of a uniformed service, the 
        members) from whom, and the methods whereby, the public 
        may obtain information, make submittals or requests, or 
        obtain decisions;
            (B) statements of the general course and method by 
        which its functions are channeled and determined, 
        including the nature and requirements of all formal and 
        informal procedures available;
            (C) rules of procedure, descriptions of forms 
        available or the places at which forms may be obtained, 
        and instructions as to the scope and contents of all 
        papers, reports, or examinations;
            (D) substantive rules of general applicability 
        adopted as authorized by law, and statements of general 
        policy or interpretations of general applicability 
        formulated and adopted by the agency; and
            (E) each amendment, revision, or repeal of the 
        foregoing.
Except to the extent that a person has actual and timely notice 
of the terms thereof, a person may not in any manner be 
required to resort to, or be adversely affected by, a matter 
required to be published in the Federal Register and not so 
published. For the purpose of this paragraph, matter reasonably 
available to the class of persons affected thereby is deemed 
published in the Federal Register when incorporated by 
reference therein with the approval of the Director of the 
Federal Register.
    (2) Each agency, in accordance with published rules, shall 
make available for public inspection and copying--
            (A) final opinions, including concurring and 
        dissenting opinions, as well as orders, made in the 
        adjudication of cases;
            (B) those statements of policy and interpretations 
        which have been adopted by the agency and are not 
        published in the Federal Register;
            (C) administrative staff manuals and instructions 
        to staff that affect a member of the public;
            (D) copies of all records, regardless of form or 
        format, which have been released to any person under 
        paragraph (3) and which, because of the nature of their 
        subject matter, the agency determines have become or 
        are likely to become the subject of subsequent requests 
        for substantially the same records; and
            (E) a general index of the records referred to 
        under subparagraph (D);
unless the materials are promptly published and copies offered 
for sale. For records created on or after November 1, 1996, 
within one year after such date, each agency shall make such 
records available, including by computer telecommunications or, 
if computer telecommunications means have not been established 
by the agency, by other electronic means. To the extent 
required to prevent a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal 
privacy, an agency may delete identifying details when it makes 
available or publishes an opinion, statement of policy, 
interpretation, staff manual, instruction, or copies of records 
referred to in subparagraph (D). However, in each case the 
justification for the deletion shall be explained fully in 
writing, and the extent of such deletion shall be indicated on 
the portion of the record which is made available or published, 
unless including that indication would harm an interest 
protected by the exemption in subsection (b) under which the 
deletion is made. If technically feasible, the extent of the 
deletion shall be indicated at the place in the record where 
the deletion was made. Each agency shall also maintain and make 
available for public inspection and copying current indexes 
providing identifying information for the public as to any 
matter issued, adopted, or promulgated after July 4, 1967, and 
required by this paragraph to be made available or published. 
Each agency shall promptly publish, quarterly or more 
frequently, and distribute (by sale or otherwise) copies of 
each index or supplements thereto unless it determines by order 
published in the Federal Register that the publication would be 
unnecessary and impracticable, in which case the agency shall 
nonetheless provide copies of such index on request at a cost 
not to exceed the direct cost of duplication. Each agency shall 
make the index referred to in subparagraph (E) available by 
computer telecommunications by December 31, 1999. A final 
order, opinion, statement of policy, interpretation, or staff 
manual or instruction that affects a member of the public may 
be relied on, used, or cited as precedent by an agency against 
a party other than an agency only if--
            (i) it has been indexed and either made available 
        or published as provided by this paragraph; or
            (ii) the party has actual and timely notice of the 
        terms thereof.
    (3)(A) Except with respect to the records made available 
under paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection, and except as 
provided in subparagraph (E), each agency, upon any request for 
records which (i) reasonably describes such records and (ii) is 
made in accordance with published rules stating the time, 
place, fees (if any), and procedures to be followed, shall make 
the records promptly available to any person.
    (B) In making any record available to a person under this 
paragraph, an agency shall provide the record in any form or 
format requested by the person if the record is readily 
reproducible by the agency in that form or format. Each agency 
shall make reasonable efforts to maintain its records in forms 
or formats that are reproducible for purposes of this section.
    (C) In responding under this paragraph to a request for 
records, an agency shall make reasonable efforts to search for 
the records in electronic form or format, except when such 
efforts would significantly interfere with the operation of the 
agency's automated information system.
    (D) For purposes of this paragraph, the term ``search'' 
means to review, manually or by automated means, agency records 
for the purpose of locating those records which are responsive 
to a request.
    (E) An agency, or part of an agency, that is an element of 
the intelligence community (as that term is defined in section 
3(4) of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 401a(4))) 
shall not make any record available under this paragraph to--
            (i) any government entity, other than a State, 
        territory, commonwealth, or district of the United 
        States, or any subdivision thereof; or
            (ii) a representative of a government entity 
        described in clause (i).
    (4)(A)(i) In order to carry out the provisions of this 
section, each agency shall promulgate regulations, pursuant to 
notice and receipt of public comment, specifying the schedule 
of fees applicable to the processing of requests under this 
section and establishing procedures and guidelines for 
determining when such fees should be waived or reduced. Such 
schedule shall conform to the guidelines which shall be 
promulgated, pursuant to notice and receipt of public comment, 
by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and 
which shall provide for a uniform schedule of fees for all 
agencies.
    (ii) Such agency regulations shall provide that--
            (I) fees shall be limited to reasonable standard 
        charges for document search, duplication, and review, 
        when records are requested for commercial use;
            (II) fees shall be limited to reasonable standard 
        charges for document duplication when records are not 
        sought for commercial use and the request is made by an 
        educational or noncommercial scientific institution, 
        whose purpose is scholarly or scientific research; or a 
        representative of the news media; and
            (III) for any request not described in (I) or (II), 
        fees shall be limited to reasonable standard charges 
        for document search and duplication.
    (iii) Documents shall be furnished without any charge or at 
a charge reduced below the fees established under clause (ii) 
if disclosure of the information is in the public interest 
because it is likely to contribute significantly to public 
understanding of the operations or activities of the government 
and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the 
requester.
    (iv) Fee schedules shall provide for the recovery of only 
the direct costs of search, duplication, or review. Review 
costs shall include only the direct costs incurred during the 
initial examination of a document for the purposes of 
determining whether the documents must be disclosed under this 
section and for the purposes of withholding any portions exempt 
from disclosure under this section. Review costs may not 
include any costs incurred in resolving issues of law or policy 
that may be raised in the course of processing a request under 
this section. No fee may be charged by any agency under this 
section--
            (I) if the costs of routine collection and 
        processing of the fee are likely to equal or exceed the 
        amount of the fee; or
            (II) for any request described in clause (ii) (II) 
        or (III) of this subparagraph for the first two hours 
        of search time or for the first one hundred pages of 
        duplication.
    (v) No agency may require advance payment of any fee unless 
the requester has previously failed to pay fees in a timely 
fashion, or the agency has determined that the fee will exceed 
$250.
    (vi) Nothing in this subparagraph shall supersede fees 
chargeable under a statute specifically providing for setting 
the level of fees for particular types of records.
    (vii) In any action by a requester regarding the waiver of 
fees under this section, the court shall determine the matter 
de novo: Provided, That the court's review of the matter shall 
be limited to the record before the agency.
    (B) On complaint, the district court of the United States 
in the district in which the complainant resides, or has his 
principal place of business, or in which the agency records are 
situated, or in the District of Columbia, has jurisdiction to 
enjoin the agency from withholding agency records and to order 
the production of any agency records improperly withheld from 
the complainant. In such a case the court shall determine the 
matter de novo, and may examine the contents of such agency 
records in camera to determine whether such records or any part 
thereof shall be withheld under any of the exemptions set forth 
in subsection (b) of this section, and the burden is on the 
agency to sustain its action. In addition to any other matters 
to which a court accords substantial weight, a court shall 
accord substantial weight to an affidavit of an agency 
concerning the agency's determination as to technical 
feasibility under paragraph (2)(C) and subsection (b) and 
reproducibility under paragraph (3)(B).
    (C) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the 
defendant shall serve an answer or otherwise plead to any 
complaint made under this subsection within thirty days after 
service upon the defendant of the pleading in which such 
complaint is made, unless the court otherwise directs for good 
cause shown.
    [(D) Repealed.]
    (E) The court may assess against the United States 
reasonable attorney fees and other litigation costs reasonably 
incurred in any case under this section in which the 
complainant has substantially prevailed.
    (F) Whenever the court orders the production of any agency 
records improperly withheld from the complainant and assesses 
against the United States reasonable attorney fees and other 
litigation costs, and the court additionally issues a written 
finding that the circumstances surrounding the withholding 
raise questions whether agency personnel acted arbitrarily or 
capriciously with respect to the withholding, the Special 
Counsel shall promptly initiate a proceeding to determine 
whether disciplinary action is warranted against the officer or 
employee who was primarily responsible for the withholding. The 
Special Counsel, after investigation and consideration of the 
evidence submitted, shall submit his findings and 
recommendations to the administrative authority of the agency 
concerned and shall send copies of the findings and 
recommendations to the officer or employee or his 
representative. The administrative authority shall take the 
corrective action that the Special Counsel recommends.
    (G) In the event of noncompliance with the order of the 
court, the district court may punish for contempt the 
responsible employee, and in the case of a uniformed service, 
the responsible member.
    (5) Each agency having more than one member shall maintain 
and make available for public inspection a record of the final 
votes of each member in every agency proceeding.
    (6)(A) Each agency, upon any request for records made under 
paragraph (1), (2), or (3) of this subsection, shall--
            (i) determine within 20 days (excepting Saturdays, 
        Sundays, and legal public holidays) after the receipt 
        of any such request whether to comply with such request 
        and shall immediately notify the person making such 
        request of such determination and the reasons therefor, 
        and of the right of such person to appeal to the head 
        of the agency any adverse determination; and
            (ii) make a determination with respect to any 
        appeal within twenty days (excepting Saturdays, 
        Sundays, and legal public holidays) after the receipt 
        of such appeal. If on appeal the denial of the request 
        for records is in whole or in part upheld, the agency 
        shall notify the person making such request of the 
        provisions for judicial review of that determination 
        under paragraph (4) of this subsection.
    (B)(i) In unusual circumstances as specified in this 
subparagraph, the time limits prescribed in either clause (i) 
or clause (ii) of subparagraph (A) may be extended by written 
notice to the person making such request setting forth the 
unusual circumstances for such extension and the date on which 
a determination is expected to be dispatched. No such notice 
shall specify a date that would result in an extension for more 
than ten working days, except as provided in clause (ii) of 
this subparagraph.
    (ii) With respect to a request for which a written notice 
under clause (i) extends the time limits prescribed under 
clause (i) of subparagraph (A), the agency shall notify the 
person making the request if the request cannot be processed 
within the time limit specified in that clause and shall 
provide the person an opportunity to limit the scope of the 
request so that it may be processed within that time limit or 
an opportunity to arrange with the agency an alternative time 
frame for processing the request or a modified request. Refusal 
by the person to reasonably modify the request or arrange such 
an alternative time frame shall be considered as a factor in 
determining whether exceptional circumstances exist for 
purposes of subparagraph (C).
    (iii) As used in this subparagraph, ``unusual 
circumstances'' means, but only to the extent reasonably 
necessary to the proper processing of the particular requests--
            (I) the need to search for and collect the 
        requested records from field facilities or other 
        establishments that are separate from the office 
        processing the request;
            (II) the need to search for, collect, and 
        appropriately examine a voluminous amount of separate 
        and distinct records which are demanded in a single 
        request; or
            (III) the need for consultation, which shall be 
        conducted with all practicable speed, with another 
        agency having a substantial interest in the 
        determination of the request or among two or more 
        components of the agency having substantial subject-
        matter interest therein.
    (iv) Each agency may promulgate regulations, pursuant to 
notice and receipt of public comment, providing for the 
aggregation of certain requests by the same requestor, or by a 
group of requestors acting in concert, if the agency reasonably 
believes that such requests actually constitute a single 
request, which would otherwise satisfy the unusual 
circumstances specified in this subparagraph, and the requests 
involve clearly related matters. Multiple requests involving 
unrelated matters shall not be aggregated.
    (C)(i) Any person making a request to any agency for 
records under paragraph (1), (2), or (3) of this subsection 
shall be deemed to have exhausted his administrative remedies 
with respect to such request if the agency fails to comply with 
the applicable time limit provisions of this paragraph. If the 
Government can show exceptional circumstances exist and that 
the agency is exercising due diligence in responding to the 
request, the court may retain jurisdiction and allow the agency 
additional time to complete its review of the records. Upon any 
determination by an agency to comply with a request for 
records, the records shall be made promptly available to such 
person making such request. Any notification of denial of any 
request for records under this subsection shall set forth the 
names and titles or positions of each person responsible for 
the denial of such request.
    (ii) For purposes of this subparagraph, the term 
``exceptional circumstances'' does not include a delay that 
results from a predictable agency workload of requests under 
this section, unless the agency demonstrates reasonable 
progress in reducing its backlog of pending requests.
    (iii) Refusal by a person to reasonably modify the scope of 
a request or arrange an alternative time frame for processing a 
request (or a modified request) under clause (ii) after being 
given an opportunity to do so by the agency to whom the person 
made the request shall be considered as a factor in determining 
whether exceptional circumstances exist for purposes of this 
subparagraph.
    (D)(i) Each agency may promulgate regulations, pursuant to 
notice and receipt of public comment, providing for multitrack 
processing of requests for records based on the amount of work 
or time (or both) involved in processing requests.
    (ii) Regulations under this subparagraph may provide a 
person making a request that does not qualify for the fastest 
multitrack processing an opportunity to limit the scope of the 
request in order to qualify for faster processing.
    (iii) This subparagraph shall not be considered to affect 
the requirement under subparagraph (C) to exercise due 
diligence.
    (E)(i) Each agency shall promulgate regulations, pursuant 
to notice and receipt of public comment, providing for 
expedited processing of requests for records--
            (I) in cases in which the person requesting the 
        records demonstrates a compelling need; and
            (II) in other cases determined by the agency.
    (ii) Notwithstanding clause (i), regulations under this 
subparagraph must ensure--
            (I) that a determination of whether to provide 
        expedited processing shall be made, and notice of the 
        determination shall be provided to the person making 
        the request, within 10 days after the date of the 
        request; and
            (II) expeditious consideration of administrative 
        appeals of such determinations of whether to provide 
        expedited processing.
    (iii) An agency shall process as soon as practicable any 
request for records to which the agency has granted expedited 
processing under this subparagraph. Agency action to deny or 
affirm denial of a request for expedited processing pursuant to 
this subparagraph, and failure by an agency to respond in a 
timely manner to such a request shall be subject to judicial 
review under paragraph (4), except that the judicial review 
shall be based on the record before the agency at the time of 
the determination.
    (iv) A district court of the United States shall not have 
jurisdiction to review an agency denial of expedited processing 
of a request for records after the agency has provided a 
complete response to the request.
    (v) For purposes of this subparagraph, the term 
``compelling need'' means--
            (I) that a failure to obtain requested records on 
        an expedited basis under this paragraph could 
        reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to 
        the life or physical safety of an individual; or
            (II) with respect to a request made by a person 
        primarily engaged in disseminating information, urgency 
        to inform the public concerning actual or alleged 
        Federal Government activity.
    (vi) A demonstration of a compelling need by a person 
making a request for expedited processing shall be made by a 
statement certified by such person to be true and correct to 
the best of such person's knowledge and belief.
    (F) In denying a request for records, in whole or in part, 
an agency shall make a reasonable effort to estimate the volume 
of any requested matter the provision of which is denied, and 
shall provide any such estimate to the person making the 
request, unless providing such estimate would harm an interest 
protected by the exemption in subsection (b) pursuant to which 
the denial is made.
    (b) This section does not apply to matters that are--
            (1)(A) specifically authorized under criteria 
        established by an Executive order to be kept secret in 
        the interest of national defense or foreign policy and 
        (B) are in fact properly classified pursuant to such 
        Executive order;
            (2) related solely to the internal personnel rules 
        and practices of an agency;
            (3) specifically exempted from disclosure by 
        statute (other than section 552b of this title), 
        provided that such statute (A) requires that the 
        matters be withheld from the public in such a manner as 
        to leave no discretion on the issue, or (B) establishes 
        particular criteria for withholding or refers to 
        particular types of matters to be withheld;
            (4) trade secrets and commercial or financial 
        information obtained from a person and privileged or 
        confidential;
            (5) inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or 
        letters which would not be available by law to a party 
        other than an agency in litigation with the agency;
            (6) personnel and medical files and similar files 
        the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly 
        unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
            (7) records or information compiled for law 
        enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the 
        production of such law enforcement records or 
        information (A) could reasonably be expected to 
        interfere with enforcement proceedings, (B) would 
        deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an 
        impartial adjudication, (C) could reasonably be 
        expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of 
        personal privacy, (D) could reasonably be expected to 
        disclose the identity of a confidential source, 
        including a State, local, or foreign agency or 
        authority or any private institution which furnished 
        information on a confidential basis, and, in the case 
        of a record or information compiled by criminal law 
        enforcement authority in the course of a criminal 
        investigation or by an agency conducting a lawful 
        national security intelligence investigation, 
        information furnished by a confidential source, (E) 
        would disclose techniques and procedures for law 
        enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would 
        disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations 
        or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be 
        expected to risk circumvention of the law, or (F) could 
        reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical 
        safety of any individual;
            (8) contained in or related to examination, 
        operating, or condition reports prepared by, on behalf 
        of, or for the use of an agency responsible for the 
        regulation or supervision of financial institutions; or
            (9) geological and geophysical information and 
        data, including maps, concerning wells.
Any reasonably segregable portion of a record shall be provided 
to any person requesting such record after deletion of the 
portions which are exempt under this subsection. The amount of 
information deleted shall be indicated on the released portion 
of the record, unless including that indication would harm an 
interest protected by the exemption in this subsection under 
which the deletion is made. If technically feasible, the amount 
of the information deleted shall be indicated at the place in 
the record where such deletion is made.
    (c)(1) Whenever a request is made which involves access to 
records described in subsection (b)(7)(A) and--
            (A) the investigation or proceeding involves a 
        possible violation of criminal law; and
            (B) there is reason to believe that (i) the subject 
        of the investigation or proceeding is not aware of its 
        pendency, and (ii) disclosure of the existence of the 
        records could reasonably be expected to interfere with 
        enforcement proceedings,
the agency may, during only such time as that circumstance 
continues, treat the records as not subject to the requirements 
of this section.
    (2) Whenever informant records maintained by a criminal law 
enforcement agency under an informant's name or personal 
identifier are requested by a third party according to the 
informant's name or personal identifier, the agency may treat 
the records as not subject to the requirements of this section 
unless the informant's status as an informant has been 
officially confirmed.
    (3) Whenever a request is made which involves access to 
records maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation 
pertaining to foreign intelligence or counterintelligence, or 
international terrorism, and the existence of the records is 
classified information as provided in subsection (b)(1), the 
Bureau may, as long as the existence of the records remains 
classified information, treat the records as not subject to the 
requirements of this section.
    (d) This section does not authorize withholding of 
information or limit the availability of records to the public, 
except as specifically stated in this section. This section is 
not authority to withhold information from Congress.
    (e)(1) On or before February 1 of each year, each agency 
shall submit to the Attorney General of the United States a 
report which shall cover the preceding fiscal year and which 
shall include--
            (A) the number of determinations made by the agency 
        not to comply with requests for records made to such 
        agency under subsection (a) and the reasons for each 
        such determination;
            (B)(i) the number of appeals made by persons under 
        subsection (a)(6), the result of such appeals, and the 
        reason for the action upon each appeal that results in 
        a denial of information; and
            (ii) a complete list of all statutes that the 
        agency relies upon to authorize the agency to withhold 
        information under subsection (b)(3), a description of 
        whether a court has upheld the decision of the agency 
        to withhold information under each such statute, and a 
        concise description of the scope of any information 
        withheld;
            (C) the number of requests for records pending 
        before the agency as of September 30 of the preceding 
        year, and the median number of days that such requests 
        had been pending before the agency as of that date;
            (D) the number of requests for records received by 
        the agency and the number of requests which the agency 
        processed;
            (E) the median number of days taken by the agency 
        to process different types of requests;
            (F) the total amount of fees collected by the 
        agency for processing requests; and
            (G) the number of full-time staff of the agency 
        devoted to processing requests for records under this 
        section, and the total amount expended by the agency 
        for processing such requests.
    (2) Each agency shall make each such report available to 
the public including by computer telecommunications, or if 
computer telecommunications means have not been established by 
the agency, by other electronic means.
    (3) The Attorney General of the United States shall make 
each report which has been made available by electronic means 
available at a single electronic access point. The Attorney 
General of the United States shall notify the Chairman and 
ranking minority member of the Committee on Government Reform 
and Oversight of the House of Representatives and the Chairman 
and ranking minority member of the Committees on Governmental 
Affairs and the Judiciary of the Senate, no later than April 1 
of the year in which each such report is issued, that such 
reports are available by electronic means.
    (4) The Attorney General of the United States, in 
consultation with the Director of the Office of Management and 
Budget, shall develop reporting and performance guidelines in 
connection with reports required by this subsection by October 
1, 1997, and may establish additional requirements for such 
reports as the Attorney General determines may be useful.
    (5) The Attorney General of the United States shall submit 
an annual report on or before April 1 of each calendar year 
which shall include for the prior calendar year a listing of 
the number of cases arising under this section, the exemption 
involved in each case, the disposition of such case, and the 
cost, fees, and penalties assessed under subparagraphs (E), 
(F), and (G) of subsection (a)(4). Such report shall also 
include a description of the efforts undertaken by the 
Department of Justice to encourage agency compliance with this 
section.
    (f) For purposes of this section, the term--
            (1) ``agency'' as defined in section 551(1) of this 
        title includes any executive department, military 
        department, Government corporation, Government 
        controlled corporation, or other establishment in the 
        executive branch of the Government (including the 
        Executive Office of the President), or any independent 
        regulatory agency; and
            (2) ``record'' and any other term used in this 
        section in reference to information includes any 
        information that would be an agency record subject to 
        the requirements of this section when maintained by an 
        agency in any format, including an electronic format.
    (g) The head of each agency shall prepare and make publicly 
available upon request, reference material or a guide for 
requesting records or information from the agency, subject to 
the exemptions in subsection (b), including--
            (1) an index of all major information systems of 
        the agency;
            (2) a description of major information and record 
        locator systems maintained by the agency; and
            (3) a handbook for obtaining various types and 
        categories of public information from the agency 
        pursuant to chapter 35 of title 44, and under this 
        section.

    (Sept. 6, 1966, Public Law 89-554, Sec. 1, 80 Stat. 383; 
June 5, 1967, Public Law 90-23 Sec. 1, 81 Stat. 54; Nov. 21, 
1974, Public Law 93-502, Sec. Sec. 1-3, 88 Stat. 1561, 1563, 
1564; Sept. 13, 1976, Public Law 94-409, Sec. 5(b), 90 Stat. 
1247; Oct. 13, 1978, Public Law 95-454, Ttle IX, 
Sec. 906(a)(10), 92 Stat. 1225; Nov. 8, 1984, Public Law 98-
620, Title IV, Subtitle A, Sec. 402(2), 98 Stat. 3357; Oct. 27, 
1986, Public Law 99-570, Title I, Subtitle N, Sec. Sec. 1802, 
1803, 100 Stat. 3207-48, 3207-49.)
    (As amended Oct. 2, 1996, Public Law 104-231, Sec. Sec. 3-
11, 110 Stat. 3049; Nov. 27, 2002, Public Law 107-306, Title 
III, Subtitle B, Sec. 312, 116 Stat. 2390.)
              Appendix 6.--Text of the Privacy Act of 1974


Sec. 552a. Records maintained on individuals

    (a) Definitions.--For purposes of this section--
            (1) the term ``agency'' means agency as defined in 
        section 552(e) \43\ of this title;
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    \43\ Reference probably should be to ``552(f)''. Section 1802(b) of 
Public Law 99-570 (100 Stat. 3207-49) redesignated subsection (e) of 
section 552 as (f).
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            (2) the term ``individual'' means a citizen of the 
        United States or an alien lawfully admitted for 
        permanent residence;
            (3) the term ``maintain'' includes maintain, 
        collect, use, or disseminate;
            (4) the term ``record'' means any item, collection, 
        or grouping of information about an individual that is 
        maintained by an agency, including, but not limited to, 
        his education, financial transactions, medical history, 
        and criminal or employment history and that contains 
        his name, or the identifying number, symbol, or other 
        identifying particular assigned to the individual, such 
        as a finger or voice print or a photograph;
            (5) the term ``system of records'' means a group of 
        any records under the control of any agency from which 
        information is retrieved by the name of the individual 
        or by some identifying number, symbol, or other 
        identifying particular assigned to the individual;
            (6) the term ``statistical record'' means a record 
        in a system of records maintained for statistical 
        research or reporting purposes only and not used in 
        whole or in part in making any determination about an 
        identifiable individual, except as provided by section 
        8 of title 13;
            (7) the term ``routine use'' means, with respect to 
        the disclosure of a record, the use of such record for 
        a purpose which is compatible with the purpose for 
        which it was collected;
            (8) the term ``matching program''--
                    (A) means any computerized comparison of--
                            (i) two or more automated systems 
                        of records or a system of records with 
                        non-Federal records for the purpose 
                        of--
                                    (I) establishing or 
                                verifying the eligibility of, 
                                or continuing compliance with 
                                statutory and regulatory 
                                requirements by, applicants 
                                for, recipients or 
                                beneficiaries of, participants 
                                in, or providers of services 
                                with respect to, cash or in-
                                kind assistance or payments 
                                under Federal benefit programs, 
                                or
                                    (II) recouping payments or 
                                delinquent debts under such 
                                Federal benefit programs, or
                            (ii) two or more automated Federal 
                        personnel or payroll systems of records 
                        or a system of Federal personnel or 
                        payroll records with non-Federal 
                        records,
                    (B) but does not include--
                            (i) matches performed to produce 
                        aggregate statistical data without any 
                        personal identifiers;
                            (ii) matches performed to support 
                        any research or statistical project, 
                        the specific data of which may not be 
                        used to make decisions concerning the 
                        rights, benefits, or privileges of 
                        specific individuals;
                            (iii) matches performed, by an 
                        agency (or component thereof) which 
                        performs as its principal function any 
                        activity pertaining to the enforcement 
                        of criminal laws, subsequent to the 
                        initiation of a specific criminal or 
                        civil law enforcement investigation of 
                        a named person or persons for the 
                        purpose of gathering evidence against 
                        such person or persons;
                            (iv) matches of tax information (I) 
                        pursuant to section 6103(d) of the 
                        Internal Revenue Code of 1986, (II) for 
                        purposes of tax administration as 
                        defined in section 6103(b)(4) of such 
                        Code, (III) for the purpose of 
                        intercepting a tax refund due an 
                        individual under authority granted by 
                        section 404(e), 464, or 1137 of the 
                        Social Security Act; or (IV) for the 
                        purpose of intercepting a tax refund 
                        due an individual under any other tax 
                        refund intercept program authorized by 
                        statute which has been determined by 
                        the Director of the Office of 
                        Management and Budget to contain 
                        verification, notice, and hearing 
                        requirements that are substantially 
                        similar to the procedures in section 
                        1137 of the Social Security Act;
                            (v) matches--
                                    (I) using records 
                                predominantly relating to 
                                Federal personnel, that are 
                                performed for routine 
                                administrative purposes 
                                (subject to guidance provided 
                                by the Director of the Office 
                                of Management and Budget 
                                pursuant to subsection (v)); or
                                    (II) conducted by an agency 
                                using only records from systems 
                                of records maintained by that 
                                agency;
                        if the purpose of the match is not to 
                        take any adverse financial, personnel, 
                        disciplinary, or other adverse action 
                        against Federal personnel;
                            (vi) matches performed for foreign 
                        counterintelligence purposes or to 
                        produce background checks for security 
                        clearances of Federal personnel or 
                        Federal contractor personnel;
                            (vii) matches performed incident to 
                        a levy described in section 6103(k)(8) 
                        of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986; 
                        or
                            (viii) matches performed pursuant 
                        to section 202(x)(3) or 1611(e)(1) of 
                        the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 
                        402(x)(3), 1382(e)(1));
            (9) the term ``recipient agency'' means any agency, 
        or contractor thereof, receiving records contained in a 
        system of records from a source agency for use in a 
        matching program;
            (10) the term ``non-Federal agency'' means any 
        State or local government, or agency thereof, which 
        receives records contained in a system of records from 
        a source agency for use in a matching program;
            (11) the term ``source agency'' means any agency 
        which discloses records contained in a system of 
        records to be used in a matching program, or any State 
        or local government, or agency thereof, which discloses 
        records to be used in a matching program;
            (12) the term ``Federal benefit program'' means any 
        program administered or funded by the Federal 
        Government, or by any agent or State on behalf of the 
        Federal Government, providing cash or in-kind 
        assistance in the form of payments, grants, loans, or 
        loan guarantees to individuals; and
            (13) the term ``Federal personnel'' means officers 
        and employees of the Government of the United States, 
        members of the uniformed services (including members of 
        the Reserve Components), individuals entitled to 
        receive immediate or deferred retirement benefits under 
        any retirement program of the Government of the United 
        States (including survivor benefits).
    (b) Conditions of Disclosure.--No agency shall disclose any 
record which is contained in a system of records by any means 
of communication to any person, or to another agency, except 
pursuant to a written request by, or with the prior written 
consent of, the individual to whom the record pertains, unless 
disclosure of the record would be--
            (1) to those officers and employees of the agency 
        which maintains the record who have a need for the 
        record in the performance of their duties;
            (2) required under section 552 of this title;
            (3) for a routine use as defined in subsection 
        (a)(7) of this section and described under subsection 
        (e)(4)(D) of this section;
            (4) to the Bureau of the Census for purposes of 
        planning or carrying out a census or survey or related 
        activity pursuant to the provisions of title 13;
            (5) to a recipient who has provided the agency with 
        advance adequate written assurance that the record will 
        be used solely as a statistical research or reporting 
        record, and the record is to be transferred in a form 
        that is not individually identifiable;
            (6) to the National Archives and Records 
        Administration as a record which has sufficient 
        historical or other value to warrant its continued 
        preservation by the United States Government, or for 
        evaluation by the Archivist of the United States or the 
        designee of the Archivist to determine whether the 
        record has such value;
            (7) to another agency or to an instrumentality of 
        any governmental jurisdiction within or under the 
        control of the United States for a civil or criminal 
        law enforcement activity if the activity is authorized 
        by law, and if the head of the agency or 
        instrumentality has made a written request to the 
        agency which maintains the record specifying the 
        particular portion desired and the law enforcement 
        activity for which the record is sought;
            (8) to a person pursuant to a showing of compelling 
        circumstances affecting the health or safety of an 
        individual if upon such disclosure notification is 
        transmitted to the last known address of such 
        individual;
            (9) to either House of Congress, or, to the extent 
        of matter within its jurisdiction, any committee or 
        subcommittee thereof, \44\ any joint committee of 
        Congress or subcommittee of any such joint committee;
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    \44\ So in law; ``thereof,'' should probably be ``thereof or''.
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            (10) to the Comptroller General, or any of his 
        authorized representatives, in the course of the 
        performance of the duties of the General Accounting 
        Office;
            (11) pursuant to the order of a court of competent 
        jurisdiction; and \45\
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    \45\ So in law. Probably should be ``; or''.
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            (12) to a consumer reporting agency in accordance 
        with section 3711(e) of title 31.
    (c) Accounting of Certain Disclosures.--Each agency, with 
respect to each system of records under its control shall--
            (1) except for disclosures made under subsections 
        (b)(1) or (b)(2) of this section, keep an accurate 
        accounting of--
                    (A) the date, nature, and purpose of each 
                disclosure of a record to any person or to 
                another agency made under subsection (b) of 
                this section; and
                    (B) the name and address of the person or 
                agency to whom the disclosure is made;
            (2) retain the accounting made under paragraph (1) 
        of this subsection for at least five years or the life 
        of the record, whichever is longer, after the 
        disclosure for which the accounting is made;
            (3) except for disclosures made under subsection 
        (b)(7) of this section, make the accounting made under 
        paragraph (1) of this subsection available to the 
        individual named in the record at his request; and
            (4) inform any person or other agency about any 
        correction or notation of dispute made by the agency in 
        accordance with subsection (d) of this section of any 
        record that has been disclosed to the person or agency 
        if an accounting of the disclosure was made.
    (d) Access to Records.--Each agency that maintains a system 
of records shall--
            (1) upon request by any individual to gain access 
        to his record or to any information pertaining to him 
        which is contained in the system, permit him and upon 
        his request, a person of his own choosing to accompany 
        him, to review the record and have a copy made of all 
        or any portion thereof in a form comprehensible to him, 
        except that the agency may require the individual to 
        furnish a written statement authorizing discussion of 
        that individual's record in the accompanying person's 
        presence;
            (2) permit the individual to request amendment of a 
        record pertaining to him and--
                    (A) not later than 10 days (excluding 
                Saturdays, Sundays, and legal public holidays) 
                after the date of receipt of such request, 
                acknowledge in writing such receipt; and
                    (B) promptly, either--
                            (i) make any correction of any 
                        portion thereof which the individual 
                        believes is not accurate, relevant, 
                        timely, or complete; or
                            (ii) inform the individual of its 
                        refusal to amend the record in 
                        accordance with his request, the reason 
                        for the refusal, the procedures 
                        established by the agency for the 
                        individual to request a review of that 
                        refusal by the head of the agency or an 
                        officer designated by the head of the 
                        agency, and the name and business 
                        address of that official;
            (3) permit the individual who disagrees with the 
        refusal of the agency to amend his record to request a 
        review of such refusal, and not later than 30 days 
        (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal public 
        holidays) from the date on which the individual 
        requests such review, complete such review and make a 
        final determination unless, for good cause shown, the 
        head of the agency extends such 30-day period; and if, 
        after his review, the reviewing official also refuses 
        to amend the record in accordance with the request, 
        permit the individual to file with the agency a concise 
        statement setting forth the reasons for his 
        disagreement with the refusal of the agency, and notify 
        the individual of the provisions for judicial review of 
        the reviewing official's determination under subsection 
        (g)(1)(A) of this section;
            (4) in any disclosure, containing information about 
        which the individual has filed a statement of 
        disagreement, occurring after the filing of the 
        statement under paragraph (3) of this subsection, 
        clearly note any portion of the record which is 
        disputed and provide copies of the statement and, if 
        the agency deems it appropriate, copies of a concise 
        statement of the reasons of the agency for not making 
        the amendments requested, to persons or other agencies 
        to whom the disputed record has been disclosed; and
            (5) nothing in this section shall allow an 
        individual access to any information compiled in 
        reasonable anticipation of a civil action or 
        proceeding. \46\
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    \46\ So in law. Paragraph (5) should probably be a separate 
sentence.
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    (e) Agency Requirements.--Each agency that maintains a 
system of records shall--
            (1) maintain in its records only such information 
        about an individual as is relevant and necessary to 
        accomplish a purpose of the agency required to be 
        accomplished by statute or by executive order of the 
        President;
            (2) collect information to the greatest extent 
        practicable directly from the subject individual when 
        the information may result in adverse determinations 
        about an individual's rights, benefits, and privileges 
        under Federal programs;
            (3) inform each individual whom it asks to supply 
        information, on the form which it uses to collect the 
        information or on a separate form that can be retained 
        by the individual--
                    (A) the authority (whether granted by 
                statute, or by executive order of the 
                President) which authorizes the solicitation of 
                the information and whether disclosure of such 
                information is mandatory or voluntary;
                    (B) the principal purpose or purposes for 
                which the information is intended to be used;
                    (C) the routine uses which may be made of 
                the information, as published pursuant to 
                paragraph (4)(D) of this subsection; and
                    (D) the effects on him, if any, of not 
                providing all or any part of the requested 
                information;
            (4) subject to the provisions of paragraph (11) of 
        this subsection, publish in the Federal Register upon 
        establishment or revision a notice of the existence and 
        character of the system of records, which notice shall 
        include--
                    (A) the name and location of the system;
                    (B) the categories of individuals on whom 
                records are maintained in the system;
                    (C) the categories of records maintained in 
                the system;
                    (D) each routine use of the records 
                contained in the system, including the 
                categories of users and the purpose of such 
                use;
                    (E) the policies and practices of the 
                agency regarding storage, retrievability, 
                access controls, retention, and disposal of the 
                records;
                    (F) the title and business address of the 
                agency official who is responsible for the 
                system of records;
                    (G) the agency procedures whereby an 
                individual can be notified at his request if 
                the system of records contains a record 
                pertaining to him;
                    (H) the agency procedures whereby an 
                individual can be notified at his request how 
                he can gain access to any record pertaining to 
                him contained in the system of records, and how 
                he can contest its content; and
                    (I) the categories of sources of records in 
                the system;
            (5) maintain all records which are used by the 
        agency in making any determination about any individual 
        with such accuracy, relevance, timeliness, and 
        completeness as is reasonably necessary to assure 
        fairness to the individual in the determination;
            (6) prior to disseminating any record about an 
        individual to any person other than an agency, unless 
        the dissemination is made pursuant to subsection (b)(2) 
        of this section, make reasonable efforts to assure that 
        such records are accurate, complete, timely, and 
        relevant for agency purposes;
            (7) maintain no record describing how any 
        individual exercises rights guaranteed by the First 
        Amendment unless expressly authorized by statute or by 
        the individual about whom the record is maintained or 
        unless pertinent to and within the scope of an 
        authorized law enforcement activity;
            (8) make reasonable efforts to serve notice on an 
        individual when any record on such individual is made 
        available to any person under compulsory legal process 
        when such process becomes a matter of public record;
            (9) establish rules of conduct for persons involved 
        in the design, development, operation, or maintenance 
        of any system of records, or in maintaining any record, 
        and instruct each such person with respect to such 
        rules and the requirements of this section, including 
        any other rules and procedures adopted pursuant to this 
        section and the penalties for noncompliance;
            (10) establish appropriate administrative, 
        technical, and physical safeguards to insure the 
        security and confidentiality of records and to protect 
        against any anticipated threats or hazards to their 
        security or integrity which could result in substantial 
        harm, embarrassment, inconvenience, or unfairness to 
        any individual on whom information is maintained;
            (11) at least 30 days prior to publication of 
        information under paragraph (4)(D) of this subsection, 
        publish in the Federal Register notice of any new use 
        or intended use of the information in the system, and 
        provide an opportunity for interested persons to submit 
        written data, views, or arguments to the agency; and
            (12) if such agency is a recipient agency or a 
        source agency in a matching program with a non-Federal 
        agency, with respect to any establishment or revision 
        of a matching program, at least 30 days prior to 
        conducting such program, publish in the Federal 
        Register notice of such establishment or revision.
    (f) Agency Rules.--In order to carry out the provisions of 
this section, each agency that maintains a system of records 
shall promulgate rules, in accordance with the requirements 
(including general notice) of section 553 of this title, which 
shall--
            (1) establish procedures whereby an individual can 
        be notified in response to his request if any system of 
        records named by the individual contains a record 
        pertaining to him;
            (2) define reasonable times, places, and 
        requirements for identifying an individual who requests 
        his record or information pertaining to him before the 
        agency shall make the record or information available 
        to the individual;
            (3) establish procedures for the disclosure to an 
        individual upon his request of his record or 
        information pertaining to him, including special 
        procedure, if deemed necessary, for the disclosure to 
        an individual of medical records, including 
        psychological records pertaining to him;
            (4) establish procedures for reviewing a request 
        from an individual concerning the amendment of any 
        record or information pertaining to the individual, for 
        making a determination on the request, for an appeal 
        within the agency of an initial adverse agency 
        determination, and for whatever additional means may be 
        necessary for each individual to be able to exercise 
        fully his rights under this section; and
            (5) establish fees to be charged, if any, to any 
        individual for making copies of his record, excluding 
        the cost of any search for and review of the record.
The Office of the Federal Register shall biennially compile and 
publish the rules promulgated under this subsection and agency 
notices published under subsection (e)(4) of this section in a 
form available to the public at low cost.
    (g)(1) Civil Remedies.--Whenever any agency--
            (A) makes a determination under subsection (d)(3) 
        of this section not to amend an individual's record in 
        accordance with his request, or fails to make such 
        review in conformity with that subsection;
            (B) refuses to comply with an individual request 
        under subsection (d)(1) of this section;
            (C) fails to maintain any record concerning any 
        individual with such accuracy, relevance, timeliness, 
        and completeness as is necessary to assure fairness in 
        any determination relating to the qualifications, 
        character, rights, or opportunities of, or benefits to 
        the individual that may be made on the basis of such 
        record, and consequently a determination is made which 
        is adverse to the individual; or
            (D) fails to comply with any other provision of 
        this section, or any rule promulgated thereunder, in 
        such a way as to have an adverse effect on an 
        individual,
the individual may bring a civil action against the agency, and 
the district courts of the United States shall have 
jurisdiction in the matters under the provisions of this 
subsection.
    (2)(A) In any suit brought under the provisions of 
subsection (g)(1)(A) of this section, the court may order the 
agency to amend the individual's record in accordance with his 
request or in such other way as the court may direct. In such a 
case the court shall determine the matter de novo.
    (B) The court may assess against the United States 
reasonable attorney fees and other litigation costs reasonably 
incurred in any case under this paragraph in which the 
complainant has substantially prevailed.
    (3)(A) In any suit brought under the provisions of 
subsection (g)(1)(B) of this section, the court may enjoin the 
agency from withholding the records and order the production to 
the complainant of any agency records improperly withheld from 
him. In such a case the court shall determine the matter de 
novo, and may examine the contents of any agency records in 
camera to determine whether the records or any portion thereof 
may be withheld under any of the exemptions set forth in 
subsection (k) of this section, and the burden is on the agency 
to sustain its action.
    (B) The court may assess against the United States 
reasonable attorney fees and other litigation costs reasonably 
incurred in any case under this paragraph in which the 
complainant has substantially prevailed.
    (4) In any suit brought under the provisions of subsection 
(g)(1)(C) or (D) of this section in which the court determines 
that the agency acted in a manner which was intentional or 
willful, the United States shall be liable to the individual in 
an amount equal to the sum of--
            (A) actual damages sustained by the individual as a 
        result of the refusal or failure, but in no case shall 
        a person entitled to recovery receive less than the sum 
        of $1,000; and
            (B) the costs of the action together with 
        reasonable attorney fees as determined by the court.
    (5) An action to enforce any liability created under this 
section may be brought in the district court of the United 
States in the district in which the complainant resides, or has 
his principal place of business, or in which the agency records 
are situated, or in the District of Columbia, without regard to 
the amount in controversy, within two years from the date on 
which the cause of action arises, except that where an agency 
has materially and willfully misrepresented any information 
required under this section to be disclosed to an individual 
and the information so misrepresented is material to 
establishment of the liability of the agency to the individual 
under this section, the action may be brought at any time 
within two years after discovery by the individual of the 
misrepresentation. Nothing in this section shall be construed 
to authorize any civil action by reason of any injury sustained 
as the result of a disclosure of a record prior to September 
27, 1975.
    (h) Rights of Legal Guardians.--For the purposes of this 
section, the parent of any minor, or the legal guardian of any 
individual who has been declared to be incompetent due to 
physical or mental incapacity or age by a court of competent 
jurisdiction, may act on behalf of the individual.
    (i)(1) Criminal Penalties.--Any officer or employee of an 
agency, who by virtue of his employment or official position, 
has possession of, or access to, agency records which contain 
individually identifiable information the disclosure of which 
is prohibited by this section or by rules or regulations 
established thereunder, and who knowing that disclosure of the 
specific material is so prohibited, willfully discloses the 
material in any manner to any person or agency not entitled to 
receive it, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not more 
than $5,000.
    (2) Any officer or employee of any agency who willfully 
maintains a system of records without meeting the notice 
requirements of subsection (e)(4) of this section shall be 
guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not more than $5,000.
    (3) Any person who knowingly and willfully requests or 
obtains any record concerning an individual from an agency 
under false pretenses shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and 
fined not more than $5,000.
    (j) General Exemptions.--The head of any agency may 
promulgate rules, in accordance with the requirements 
(including general notice) of sections 553(b)(1), (2), and (3), 
(c), and (e) of this title, to exempt any system of records 
within the agency from any part of this section except 
subsections (b), (c)(1) and (2), (e)(4)(A) through (F), (e)(6), 
(7), (9), (10), and (11), and (i) if the system of records is--
            (1) maintained by the Central Intelligence Agency; 
        or
            (2) maintained by an agency or component thereof 
        which performs as its principal function any activity 
        pertaining to the enforcement of criminal laws, 
        including police efforts to prevent, control, or reduce 
        crime or to apprehend criminals, and the activities of 
        prosecutors, courts, correctional, probation, pardon, 
        or parole authorities, and which consists of (A) 
        information compiled for the purpose of identifying 
        individual criminal offenders and alleged offenders and 
        consisting only of identifying data and notations of 
        arrests, the nature and disposition of criminal 
        charges, sentencing, confinement, release, and parole 
        and probation status; (B) information compiled for the 
        purpose of a criminal investigation, including reports 
        of informants and investigators, and associated with an 
        identifiable individual; or (C) reports identifiable to 
        an individual compiled at any stage of the process of 
        enforcement of the criminal laws from arrest or 
        indictment through release from supervision.
At the time rules are adopted under this subsection, the agency 
shall include in the statement required under section 553(c) of 
this title, the reasons why the system of records is to be 
exempted from a provision of this section.
    (k) Specific Exemptions.--The head of any agency may 
promulgate rules, in accordance with the requirements 
(including general notice) of sections 553(b)(1), (2), and (3), 
(c), and (e) of this title, to exempt any system of records 
within the agency from subsections (c)(3), (d), (e)(1), 
(e)(4)(G), (H), and (I) and (f) of this section if the system 
of records is--
            (1) subject to the provisions of section 552(b)(1) 
        of this title;
            (2) investigatory material compiled for law 
        enforcement purposes, other than material within the 
        scope of subsection (j)(2) of this section: Provided, 
        however, That if any individual is denied any right, 
        privilege, or benefit that he would otherwise be 
        entitled by Federal law, or for which he would 
        otherwise be eligible, as a result of the maintenance 
        of such material, such material shall be provided to 
        such individual, except to the extent that the 
        disclosure of such material would reveal the identity 
        of a source who furnished information to the Government 
        under an express promise that the identity of the 
        source would be held in confidence, or, prior to the 
        effective date of this section, under an implied 
        promise that the identity of the source would be held 
        in confidence;
            (3) maintained in connection with providing 
        protective services to the President of the United 
        States or other individuals pursuant to section 3056 of 
        title 18;
            (4) required by statute to be maintained and used 
        solely as statistical records;
            (5) investigatory material compiled solely for the 
        purpose of determining suitability, eligibility, or 
        qualifications for Federal civilian employment, 
        military service, Federal contracts, or access to 
        classified information, but only to the extent that the 
        disclosure of such material would reveal the identity 
        of a source who furnished information to the Government 
        under an express promise that the identity of the 
        source would be held in confidence, or, prior to the 
        effective date of this section, under an implied 
        promise that the identity of the source would be held 
        in confidence;
            (6) testing or examination material used solely to 
        determine individual qualifications for appointment or 
        promotion in the Federal service the disclosure of 
        which would compromise the objectivity or fairness of 
        the testing or examination process; or
            (7) evaluation material used to determine potential 
        for promotion in the armed services, but only to the 
        extent that the disclosure of such material would 
        reveal the identity of a source who furnished 
        information to the Government under an express promise 
        that the identity of the source would be held in 
        confidence, or, prior to the effective date of this 
        section, under an implied promise that the identity of 
        the source would be held in confidence.
At the time rules are adopted under this subsection, the agency 
shall include in the statement required under section 553(c) of 
this title, the reasons why the system of records is to be 
exempted from a provision of this section.
    (l)(1) Archival Records.--Each agency record which is 
accepted by the Archivist of the United States for storage, 
processing, and servicing in accordance with section 3103 of 
title 44 shall, for the purposes of this section, be considered 
to be maintained by the agency which deposited the record and 
shall be subject to the provisions of this section. The 
Archivist of the United States shall not disclose the record 
except to the agency which maintains the record, or under rules 
established by that agency which are not inconsistent with the 
provisions of this section.
    (2) Each agency record pertaining to an identifiable 
individual which was transferred to the National Archives of 
the United States as a record which has sufficient historical 
or other value to warrant its continued preservation by the 
United States Government, prior to the effective date of this 
section, shall, for the purposes of this section, be considered 
to be maintained by the National Archives and shall not be 
subject to the provisions of this section, except that a 
statement generally describing such records (modeled after the 
requirements relating to records subject to subsections 
(e)(4)(A) through (G) of this section) shall be published in 
the Federal Register.
    (3) Each agency record pertaining to an identifiable 
individual which is transferred to the National Archives of the 
United States as a record which has sufficient historical or 
other value to warrant its continued preservation by the United 
States Government, on or after the effective date of this 
section, shall, for the purposes of this section, be considered 
to be maintained by the National Archives and shall be exempt 
from the requirements of this section except subsections 
(e)(4)(A) through (G) and (e)(9) of this section.
    (m) Government Contractors.--(1) When an agency provides by 
a contract for the operation by or on behalf of the agency of a 
system of records to accomplish an agency function, the agency 
shall, consistent with its authority, cause the requirements of 
this section to be applied to such system. For purposes of 
subsection (i) of this section any such contractor and any 
employee of such contractor, if such contract is agreed to on 
or after the effective date of this section, shall be 
considered to be an employee of an agency.
    (2) A consumer reporting agency to which a record is 
disclosed under section 3711(e) of title 31 shall not be 
considered a contractor for the purposes of this section.
    (n) Mailing Lists.--An individual's name and address may 
not be sold or rented by an agency unless such action is 
specifically authorized by law. This provision shall not be 
construed to require the withholding of names and addresses 
otherwise permitted to be made public.
    (o) Matching Agreements.--(1) No record which is contained 
in a system of records may be disclosed to a recipient agency 
or non-Federal agency for use in a computer matching program 
except pursuant to a written agreement between the source 
agency and the recipient agency or non-Federal agency 
specifying--
            (A) the purpose and legal authority for conducting 
        the program;
            (B) the justification for the program and the 
        anticipated results, including a specific estimate of 
        any savings;
            (C) a description of the records that will be 
        matched, including each data element that will be used, 
        the approximate number of records that will be matched, 
        and the projected starting and completion dates of the 
        matching program;
            (D) procedures for providing individualized notice 
        at the time of application, and notice periodically 
        thereafter as directed by the Data Integrity Board of 
        such agency (subject to guidance provided by the 
        Director of the Office of Management and Budget 
        pursuant to subsection (v)), to--
                    (i) applicants for and recipients of 
                financed assistance or payments under Federal 
                benefit programs, and
                    (ii) applicants for and holders of 
                positions as Federal personnel,
        that any information provided by such applicants, 
        recipients, holders, and individuals may be subject to 
        verification through matching programs;
            (E) procedures for verifying information produced 
        in such matching program as required by subsection (p);
            (F) procedures for the retention and timely 
        destruction of identifiable records created by a 
        recipient agency or non-Federal agency in such matching 
        program;
            (G) procedures for ensuring the administrative, 
        technical, and physical security of the records matched 
        and the results of such programs;
            (H) prohibitions on duplication and redisclosure of 
        records provided by the source agency within or outside 
        the recipient agency or the non-Federal agency, except 
        where required by law or essential to the conduct of 
        the matching program;
            (I) procedures governing the use by a recipient 
        agency or non-Federal agency of records provided in a 
        matching program by a source agency, including 
        procedures governing return of the records to the 
        source agency or destruction of records used in such 
        program;
            (J) information on assessments that have been made 
        on the accuracy of the records that will be used in 
        such matching program; and
            (K) that the Comptroller General may have access to 
        all records of a recipient agency or a non-Federal 
        agency that the Comptroller General deems necessary in 
        order to monitor or verify compliance with the 
        agreement.
    (2)(A) A copy of each agreement entered into pursuant to 
paragraph (1) shall--
            (i) be transmitted to the Committee on Governmental 
        Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Government 
        Operations \47\ of the House of Representatives; and
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    \47\ The Committee on Government Operations was renamed to the 
Committee on Government Reform and Oversight by H. Res. 6 in the 104th 
Congress, and renamed the Committee on Government Reform by H. Res. 5 
in the 106th Congress.
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            (ii) be available upon request to the public.
    (B) No such agreement shall be effective until 30 days 
after the date on which such a copy is transmitted pursuant to 
subparagraph (A)(i).
    (C) Such an agreement shall remain in effect only for such 
period, not to exceed 18 months, as the Data Integrity Board of 
the agency determines is appropriate in light of the purposes, 
and length of time necessary for the conduct, of the matching 
program.
    (D) Within 3 months prior to the expiration of such an 
agreement pursuant to subparagraph (C), the Data Integrity 
Board of the agency may, without additional review, renew the 
matching agreement for a current, ongoing matching program for 
not more than one additional year if--
            (i) such program will be conducted without any 
        change; and
            (ii) each party to the agreement certifies to the 
        Board in writing that the program has been conducted in 
        compliance with the agreement.
    (p) Verification and Opportunity to Contest Findings.--(1) 
In order to protect any individual whose records are used in a 
matching program, no recipient agency, non-Federal agency, or 
source agency may suspend, terminate, reduce, or make a final 
denial of any financial assistance or payment under a Federal 
benefit program to such individual, or take other adverse 
action against such individual, as a result of information 
produced by such matching program, until--
            (A)(i) the agency has independently verified the 
        information; or
            (ii) the Data Integrity Board of the agency, or in 
        the case of a non-Federal agency the Data Integrity 
        Board of the source agency, determines in accordance 
        with guidance issued by the Director of the Office of 
        Management and Budget that--
                    (I) the information is limited to 
                identification and amount of benefits paid by 
                the source agency under a Federal benefit 
                program; and
                    (II) there is a high degree of confidence 
                that the information provided to the recipient 
                agency is accurate;
            (B) the individual receives a notice from the 
        agency containing a statement of its findings and 
        informing the individual of the opportunity to contest 
        such findings; and
            (C)(i) the expiration of any time period 
        established for the program by statue or regulation for 
        the individual to respond to that notice; or
            (ii) in the case of a program for which no such 
        period is established, the end of the 30-day period 
        beginning on the date on which notice under 
        subparagraph (B) is mailed or otherwise provided to the 
        individual.
    (2) Independent verification referred to in paragraph (1) 
requires investigation and confirmation of specific information 
relating to an individual that is used as a basis for an 
adverse action against the individual, including where 
applicable investigation and confirmation of--
            (A) the amount of any asset or income involved;
            (B) whether such individual actually has or had 
        access to such asset or income for such individual's 
        own use; and
            (C) the period or periods when the individual 
        actually had such asset or income.
    (3) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), an agency may take any 
appropriate action otherwise prohibited by such paragraph if 
the agency determines that the public health or public safety 
may be adversely affected or significantly threatened during 
any notice period required by such paragraph.
    (q) Sanctions.--(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of 
law, no source agency may disclose any record with is contained 
in a system of records to a recipient agency or non-Federal 
agency for a matching program if such source agency has reason 
to believe that the requirements of subsection (p), or any 
matching agreement entered into pursuant to subsection (o), or 
both, are not being met by such recipient agency.
    (2) No source agency may renew a matching agreement 
unless--
            (A) the recipient agency or non-Federal agency has 
        certified that it has complied with the provisions of 
        that agreement; and
            (B) the source agency has no reason to believe that 
        the certification is inaccurate.
    (r) Report on New Systems and Matching Programs.-- Each 
agency that proposes to establish or make a significant change 
in a system of records or a matching program shall provide 
adequate advance notice of any such proposal (in duplicate) to 
the Committee on Government Operations \48\ of the House of 
Representatives, the Committee on Governmental Affairs of the 
Senate, and the Office of Management and Budget in order to 
permit an evaluation of the probable or potential effect of 
such proposal on the privacy or other rights of individuals.
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    \48\ The Committee on Government Operations was renamed to the 
Committee on Government Reform and Oversight by H. Res. 6 in the 104th 
Congress, and renamed the Committee on Government Reform by H. Res. 5 
in the 106th Congress.
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    (s) Biennial Report.--The President shall biennially submit 
to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the 
President pro tempore of the Senate a report--
            (1) describing the actions of the Director of the 
        Office of Management and Budget pursuant to section 6 
        of the Privacy Act of 1974 during the preceding 2 
        years;
            (2) describing the exercise of individual rights of 
        access and amendment under this section during such 
        years;
            (3) identifying changes in or additions to systems 
        of records;
            (4) containing such other information concerning 
        administration of this section as may be necessary or 
        useful to the Congress in reviewing the effectiveness 
        of this section in carrying out the purposes of the 
        Privacy Act of 1974.
    (t)(1) Effect of Other Laws.--No agency shall rely on any 
exemption contained in section 552 of this title to withhold 
from an individual any record which is otherwise accessible to 
such individual under the provisions of this section.
    (2) No agency shall rely on any exemption in this section 
to withhold from an individual any record which is otherwise 
accessible to such individual under the provisions of section 
552 of this title.
    (u) Data Integrity Boards.--(1) Every agency conducting or 
participating in a matching program shall establish a Data 
Integrity Board to oversee and coordinate among the various 
components of such agency the agency's implementation of this 
section.
    (2) Each Data Integrity Board shall consist of senior 
officials designated by the head of the agency, and shall 
include any senior official designated by the head of the 
agency as responsible for implementation of this section, and 
the inspector general of the agency, if any. The inspector 
general shall not serve as chairman of the Data Integrity 
Board.
    (3) Each Data Integrity Board--
            (A) shall review, approve, and maintain all written 
        agreements for receipt or disclosure of agency records 
        for matching programs to ensure compliance with 
        subsection (o), and all relevant statutes, regulations, 
        and guidelines;
            (B) shall review all matching programs in which the 
        agency has participated during the year, either as a 
        source agency or recipient agency, determine compliance 
        with applicable laws, regulations, guidelines, and 
        agency agreements, and assess the costs and benefits of 
        such programs;
            (C) shall review all recurring matching programs in 
        which the agency has participated during the year, 
        either as a source agency or recipient agency, for 
        continued justification for such disclosures;
            (D) shall compile an annual report, which shall be 
        submitted to the head of the agency and the Office of 
        Management and Budget and made available to the public 
        on request, describing the matching activities of the 
        agency, including--
                    (i) matching programs in which the agency 
                has participated as a source agency or 
                recipient agency;
                    (ii) matching agreements proposed under 
                subsection (o) that were disapproved by the 
                Board;
                    (iii) any changes in membership to 
                structure of the Board in the preceding year;
                    (iv) the reasons for any waiver of the 
                requirement in paragraph (4) of this section 
                for completion and submission of a cost-benefit 
                analysis prior to the approval of a matching 
                program;
                    (v) any violations of matching agreements 
                that have been alleged or identified and any 
                corrective action taken; and
                    (vi) any other information required by the 
                Director of the Office of Management and Budget 
                to be included in such report;
            (E) shall serve as a clearinghouse for receiving 
        and providing information on the accuracy, 
        completeness, and reliability of records used in 
        matching programs;
            (F) shall provide interpretation and guidance to 
        agency components and personnel on the requirements of 
        this section for matching programs;
            (G) shall review agency recordkeeping and disposal 
        policies and practices for matching programs to assure 
        compliance with this section; and
            (H) may review and report on any agency matching 
        activities that are not matching programs.
    (4)(A) Except as provided in subparagraphs (B) and (C), a 
Data Integrity Board shall not approve any written agreement 
for a matching program unless the agency has completed and 
submitted to such Board a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed 
program and such analysis demonstrates that the program is 
likely to be cost effective.
    (B) The Board may waive the requirements of subparagraph 
(A) of this paragraph if it determines in writing, in 
accordance with guidelines prescribed by the Director of the 
Office of Management and Budget, that a cost-benefit analysis 
is not required.
    (C) A cost-benefit analysis shall not be required under 
subparagraph (A) prior to the initial approval of a written 
agreement for a matching program that is specifically required 
by statute. Any subsequent written agreement for such a program 
shall not be approved by the Data Integrity Board unless the 
agency has submitted a cost-benefit analysis of the program as 
conducted under the preceding approval of such agreement.
    (5)(A) If a matching agreement is disapproved by a Data 
Integrity Board, any party to such agreement may appeal the 
disapproval to the Director of the Office of Management and 
Budget. Timely notice of the filing of such an appeal shall be 
provided by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget 
to the Committee on Governmental Affairs of the Senate and the 
Committee on Government Operations \49\ of the House of 
Representatives.
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    \49\ The Committee on Government Operations was renamed to the 
Committee on Government Reform and Oversight by H. Res. 6 in the 104th 
Congress, and renamed the Committee on Government Reform by H. Res. 5 
in the 106th Congress.
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    (B) The Director of the Office of Management and Budget may 
approve a matching agreement notwithstanding the disapproval of 
a Data Integrity Board if the Director determines that--
            (i) the matching program will be consistent with 
        all applicable legal, regulatory, and policy 
        requirements;
            (ii) there is adequate evidence that the matching 
        agreement will be cost-effective; and
            (iii) the matching program is in the public 
        interest.
    (C) The decision of the Director to approve a matching 
agreement shall not take effect until 30 days after it is 
reported to committees described in subparagraph (A).
    (D) If the Data Integrity Board and the Director of the 
Office of Management and Budget disapprove a matching program 
proposed by the inspector general of an agency, the inspector 
general may report the disapproval to the head of the agency 
and to the Congress.
    (6) In the reports required by paragraph (3)(D), agency 
matching activities that are not matching programs may be 
reported on an aggregate basis, if and to the extent necessary 
to protect ongoing law enforcement or counterintelligence 
investigations.
    (v) Office of Management and Budget Responsibilities.--The 
Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall--
            (1) develop and, after notice and opportunity for 
        public comment, prescribe guidelines and regulations 
        for the use of agencies in implementing the provisions 
        of this section; and
            (2) provide continuing assistance to an oversight 
        of the implementation of this section by agencies.

    (Added Dec. 31, 1974, Public Law 93-579, Sec. 3, 88 Stat. 
1897, Dec. 31, 1975, Public Law 94-183, Sec. 2(2), 89 Stat. 
1057; Oct. 25, 1982, Public Law 97-365, Sec. 2, 96 Stat. 1749; 
Dec. 21, 1982, Public Law 97-375, Title II, Sec. 201(a), (b), 
96 Stat. 1821; Jan. 12, 1983, Public Law 97-452, Sec. 2(a)(1), 
96 Stat. 2478; Oct. 15, 1984, Public Law 98-477, Sec. 2(c), 98 
Stat. 2211; Oct. 19, 1984, Public Law 98-497, Title I, 
Sec. 107(g), 98 Stat. 2292; Oct. 18, 1988, Public Law 100-503, 
Sec. Sec. 2-5,6(a), 7, 8, 102 Stat. 2507-2514.)
    (As amended Nov. 5, 1990, Public Law 101-508, Title VII, 
Subtitle C, Sec. 7201(b)(1), 104 Stat. 1388-334; Aug. 10, 1993, 
Public Law 103-66, Title XIII, Ch 2, Subch A, Part V, 
Sec. 13581(c), 107 Stat. 611; Aug. 22, 1996, Public Law 104-
193, Title I, Sec. 110(w), 110 Stat. 2175; Oct. 2, 1996, Public 
Law 104-226, Sec. 1(b)(3), 110 Stat. 3033; Oct. 19, 1996, 
Public Law 104-316, Title I, Sec. 115(g)(2)(B), 110 Stat. 3835; 
Aug. 5, 1997, Public Law 105-34, Ttle IX, Subtitle C, 
Sec. 1026(b)(2), 111 Stat. 925; Nov. 10, 1998, Public Law 105-
362, Title XIII, Sec. 1301(d), 112 Stat. 3293; Dec. 17, 1999, 
Public Law 106-170, Title IV, Sec. 402(a)(2), 113 Stat. 1908.)