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112th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                     112-689
_______________________________________________________________________

                                     

                                     

                                     

                                                 Union Calendar No. 500

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

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 by the

              COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM


                                     


                                     

  Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.gpo.gov/congress/house
                      http://www.house.gov/reform

 September 21, 2012.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed


              COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM

                 DARRELL E. ISSA, California, Chairman
DAN BURTON, Indiana                  ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS, Maryland, 
JOHN L. MICA, Florida                    Ranking Minority Member
TODD RUSSELL PLATTS, Pennsylvania    EDOLPHUS TOWNS, New York
MICHAEL R. TURNER, Ohio              CAROLYN B. MALONEY, New York
PATRICK T. McHENRY, North Carolina   ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, District of 
JIM JORDAN, Ohio                         Columbia
JASON CHAFFETZ, Utah                 DENNIS J. KUCINICH, Ohio
CONNIE MACK, Florida                 JOHN F. TIERNEY, Massachusetts
TIM WALBERG, Michigan                WM. LACY CLAY, Missouri
JAMES LANKFORD, Oklahoma             STEPHEN F. LYNCH, Massachusetts
JUSTIN AMASH, Michigan               JIM COOPER, Tennessee
ANN MARIE BUERKLE, New York          GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia
PAUL A. GOSAR, Arizona               MIKE QUIGLEY, Illinois
RAUL R. LABRADOR, Idaho              DANNY K. DAVIS, Illinois
PATRICK MEEHAN, Pennsylvania         BRUCE L. BRALEY, Iowa
SCOTT DesJARLAIS, Tennessee          PETER WELCH, Vermont
JOE WALSH, Illinois                  JOHN A. YARMUTH, Kentucky
TREY GOWDY, South Carolina           CHRISTOPHER S. MURPHY, Connecticut
DENNIS A. ROSS, Florida              JACKIE SPEIER, California
BLAKE FARENTHOLD, Texas
MIKE KELLY, Pennsylvania
Vacancy

                   Lawrence J. Brady, Staff Director
                John D. Cuaderes, Deputy Staff Director
                     Robert Borden, General Counsel
                       Linda A. Good, Chief Clerk
                 David Rapallo, Minority Staff Director


                         LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL

                              ----------                              

                          House of Representatives,
              Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,
                                Washington, DC, September 21, 2012.
Hon. John Boehner,
The Speaker,
Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Speaker: By direction of the Committee on 
Oversight and Government Reform, I submit herewith the 
Committee's report to the 112th Congress. This report was 
adopted by the Committee on September 20, 2012, in a meeting 
that was open to the public.

            Sincerely,
                                              Darrell Issa,
                                                          Chairman.

                                     
                            C O N T E N T S

                              ----------                              
                                                                   Page
  I. Preface..........................................................1
 II. Introduction.....................................................2
III. How to use this guide............................................4
 IV. Which Act to use.................................................4
  V. The Freedom of Information Act...................................5
        A. The scope of the Freedom of Information Act...........     5
        B. What records can be requested under the FOIA?.........     6
        C. Making a FOIA request.................................     7
        D. Fees and fee waivers..................................     9
        E. Requirements for agency responses.....................    12
        F. Reasons access may be denied under the FOIA...........    14
              1. Exemption 1.--Classified documents..............    15
              2. Exemption 2.--Internal personnel rules and 
                  practices......................................    15
              3. Exemption 3.--Information exempt under other 
                  laws...........................................    15
              4. Exemption 4.--Confidential business information.    16
              5. Exemption 5.--Internal Government communications    17
              6. Exemption 6.--Personal privacy..................    17
              7. Exemption 7.--Law enforcement...................    18
              8. Exemption 8.--Financial institutions............    18
              9. Exemption 9.--Geological information............    19
        G. FOIA exclusions.......................................    19
        H. Administrative appeal procedures......................    20
        I. The Office of Government Information..................    21
        J. Filing a Judicial Challenge (or a FOIA Lawsuit).......    23
 VI. The Privacy Act of 1974.........................................23
        A. The scope of the Privacy Act of 1974..................    23
        B. The Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act......    25
        C. Locating records......................................    25
        D. Making a Privacy Act request for access...............    27
        E. Fees..................................................    28
        F. Requirements for agency responses.....................    28
        G. Reasons access may be denied under the Privacy Act....    28
              1. General exemptions..............................    29
              2. Specific exemptions.............................    30
              3. Medical records.................................    31
              4. Litigation records..............................    31
        H. Administrative appeal procedures for denial of access.    31
        I. Amending records under the Privacy Act................    32
        J. Appeals and requirements for agency responses.........    33
        K. Filing for judicial appeal............................    33

                               APPENDICES

Appendix 1.--Sample request and appeal letters...................    35
    A. Freedom of Information Act request letter.................    35
    B. Freedom of Information Act appeal letter..................    36
    C. Privacy Act request for access letter.....................    37
    D. Privacy Act denial of access appeal.......................    37
    E. Privacy Act request to amend records......................    38
    F. Privacy Act appeal of refusal to amend records............    39
Appendix 2--History of the Citizen's Guide.......................    39
Appendix 3--Recommendations on the use of the Citizen's Guide....    41
Appendix 4--Bibliography of Congressional Publications on the 
  Freedom of Information Act.....................................    42
Appendix 5--Bibliography of Congressional Publications on the 
  Privacy Act of 1974............................................    46
Appendix 6--Select Bibliography of Non-Congressional Resources...    49
Appendix 7--Text of the Freedom of Information Act...............    50
Appendix 8--Text of the Privacy Act of 1974......................    64



                                                 Union Calendar No. 500
112th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                     112-689

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

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

                                _______
                                

 September 21, 2012.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

   Mr. ISSA, from the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                               I. PREFACE

    The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is the embodiment of 
the public's right to know about the activities of its 
government. Transparency is an integral part of a democracy and 
is necessary to hold a government accountable to its people. 
FOIA is a foundational transparency law, and one of the most 
important tools in creating and maintaining a transparent and 
accountable government. It is the primary mechanism by which 
the public can gain access to government information. FOIA has 
proven to be extremely effective in creating a more transparent 
federal government.
    FOIA is a federal law that allows people to request 
information from the Federal Government. Under FOIA, people may 
file a request for any existing record at any federal agency 
for any reason.\1\ Agencies subject to FOIA include the 
Executive Branch departments, agencies, and offices; federal 
regulatory agencies; and federal corporations.\2\ The 
Legislative Branch and the Judicial Branch are not subject to 
FOIA.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\The Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C.   552, as amended by 
Pub. Law No. 110-175, 121 Stat. 2524, and Pub. Law No. 111-83,   564, 
123 Stat. 2142, 2184. Available at: http://www.justice.gov/oip/amended-
foia-redlined-2010.pdf.
    \2\One private company, Amtrak, is also subject to FOIA under the 
Rail Passenger Service Act, 49 U.S.C.   24301. Available at: http://
www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2008-title49/pdf/USCODE-2008-title49-
subtitleV-partC-chap243sec24301.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    FOIA was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 
1966. Prior to FOIA's enactment, the public had no formal 
method to request or receive information from the government. 
Some government meetings were held in secret and citizens had 
access only to information that the government chose to make 
public. Representative John Moss was the first Member of 
Congress to advocate for a policy that would give the public 
access to government information.
    Freedom of information was an important issue for Members 
of Congress, but it was opposed by the Executive Branch.\3\ The 
Bureau of the Budget's 1965 analysis noted, ``The requirement 
that information be made available to all and sundry, including 
the idly curious, could create serious practical problems for 
the agencies.''\4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \3\George Kennedy, ``How Americans Got Their Right to Know,'' The 
John Moss Foundation, 1996. Available at: http://
www.johnemossfoundation.org/foi/kennedy.htm.
    \4\Bureau of the Budget, ``Memorandum for Mr. Lee White,'' Aug. 12, 
1965. Available at: http://www.gwu.edu/nsarchiv/ NSAEBB/NSAEBB194/ 
Document 1.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In 1966, Congress passed a freedom of information bill 
despite the Johnson Administration's opposition. The House 
unanimously passed the bill on June 20, 1966. Due to the strong 
support of Congress, President Johnson signed the bill and FOIA 
became law on July 4, 1966.
    When FOIA was enacted in 1966, it was revolutionary. It was 
the third freedom of information law in the world and by far 
the most comprehensive and powerful. However, constant 
oversight is necessary to ensure that FOIA remains effective 
and is implemented properly.
    The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is 
responsible for overseeing FOIA. In 1977, in accordance with 
its mission to oversee FOIA and strengthen transparency in 
government, the Committee released the first edition of the 
Citizen's Guide to Using the Freedom of Information Act and the 
Privacy Act of 1974.
    In the forty-six years since FOIA was enacted, there have 
been numerous amendments to the law to increase its 
effectiveness. This committee report has been updated to 
reflect all changes and amendments made to FOIA as of 2012.

                            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\5\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \5\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 Executive Branch 
agencies and departments of the U.S. Federal Government are 
accessible to the people. This presumption was not always the 
approach to federal information access policy. Before FOIA was 
enacted in 1966, there was no guaranteed way for citizens to 
get information from the government.
    Under FOIA, those seeking information are no longer 
required to show a need for information; the ``need to know'' 
standard has been replaced by a ``right to know'' doctrine. The 
burden of proof for why certain information should be kept 
secret now falls on the government.
    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 who 
believe they have been improperly denied access to records. 
Above all, the statute requires federal agencies to provide the 
fullest possible disclosure of information to the public. The 
act's history reflects that it is a disclosure law. As such, it 
presumes that requested records will be disclosed, and an 
agency must make a case for withholding any records by 
appropriately applying the Act's nine exemptions to the rule of 
disclosure.
    The application of the Act's exemptions is generally 
permissive_not mandatory. FOIA's disclosure exemptions allow 
agencies to withhold certain records, but agencies have the 
discretion to release many records that would otherwise be 
protected if such release is deemed appropriate. 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 cases where the agency 
reasonably foresees that disclosure would be harmful to an 
interest protected by the exemption. Similarly, when a 
requester asks for a set of documents, the agency should 
release all responsive documents, not a subset or selection of 
those documents.
    In January 2009, the President issued a memorandum to 
agencies directing them to ``adopt a presumption in favor of 
disclosure'' and that agencies should operate under the 
presumption that ``in the face of doubt, openness 
prevails.''\6\ Agencies are expected to release information 
whenever possible, and should not withhold information merely 
if a legal basis for doing so exists.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \6\President Barack Obama, Memorandum for the Heads of Exec. 
Departments & Agencies, ``Freedom of Information Act,'' Jan. 21, 2009. 
Available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the--press--office/
FreedomofInformationAct/.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The Privacy Act of 1974 complements FOIA. The Privacy Act 
regulates federal government agency recordkeeping and 
disclosure practices. The Privacy 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 up-to-date. 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 to the greatest extent practicable and 
that information gathered for one purpose not be used for 
another incompatible purpose. As with 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 requirement prevents agencies from 
keeping secret records about individuals.
    The Privacy Act also restricts the disclosure of 
personally-identifiable information (PII) by federal agencies. 
Together with FOIA, the Privacy Act permits disclosure of most 
personal information to the individual who is the subject of 
the information. The two laws restrict disclosure of personal 
information to others when disclosure would violate privacy 
interests.
    While both 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 properly classified information in the 
interest of national defense or foreign policy or information 
in criminal law enforcement files. Other specifically defined 
categories of information may also be withheld.
    The essential feature of both FOIA and the Privacy Act 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 the reason for the denial. The 
requester also has a right to appeal the denial and, if 
necessary, to challenge it in court.

                       III. HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE

    This report is a guide that explains how to use the Freedom 
of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974. It reflects all 
changes to the laws made prior to 2012. Major amendments to the 
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) were enacted in 1974, 1976, 
1986, 1996, and 2007. Additional minor amendments to FOIA were 
made in 2002 and 2009. A significant addition to the Privacy 
Act of 1974 was enacted in 1988.
    This Guide is intended to serve as an introduction to the 
Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act. It offers 
neither a comprehensive explanation of the details of these 
acts nor an analysis of relevant case law. The Guide will 
enable those who are unfamiliar with the laws to understand the 
processes associated with making an information request. In 
addition, the complete text of each law is included in an 
appendix to this document.
    Readers should be aware that FOIA litigation is a complex 
area of law. There are thousands of court decisions 
interpreting FOIA.\7\ 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 FOIA, its history, or the case law 
should consult other sources. The Privacy Act has prompted less 
controversy and litigation than FOIA, but there is, 
nevertheless, a considerable body of case law for the Privacy 
Act. There are also other sources of information on the Privacy 
Act.\8\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \7\For a listing of FOIA-related court decisions see the U.S. 
Department of Justice's Office of Information Policy, ``Court 
Decisions.'' Available at: http://www.justice.gov/ oip/court-
decisions.html.
    \8\See U.S. Department of Justice, ``Overview of the Privacy Act of 
1974.'' Available at: http://www.justice.gov/opcl/ 1974privacyact-
overview.htm.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    No one should be discouraged from making a request under 
either law. No special expertise is required. Using FOIA and 
the Privacy Act is as simple as writing a letter. This 
Citizen's Guide explains the essentials.

                          IV. WHICH ACT TO USE

    The access provisions of 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 subject to disclosure under the other.
    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 FOIA.
    Congress intended that the two laws be considered together 
in the processing of requests for information. Government 
agencies should automatically handle requests from individuals 
in a way that will maximize the amount of information that is 
disclosable.

                   V. THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT


             A. THE SCOPE OF THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT

    FOIA allows people to request information from the federal 
government. Under FOIA, ``any person'' may file a request for 
information from the Executive Branch. The Executive Branch 
includes cabinet departments, military departments, government 
corporations, government controlled corporations,\9\ 
independent regulatory agencies, and other establishments in 
the Executive Branch.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \9\Amtrak is the only private company that is subject to FOIA. See 
S. Rep. No. 92-756, at 9 (1972).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    FOIA does not apply to elected officials of the federal 
government, including the President,\10\ Vice President, 
Senators, and Representatives.\11\ Additionally, components of 
the Executive Office of the President that exist solely to 
advise the President are not subject to FOIA. FOIA does not 
apply to the Judiciary Branch. In general, FOIA also does not 
apply to private companies,\12\ persons who receive federal 
contracts or grants,\13\ private organizations, or state or 
local governments. FOIA does apply to a record held by a 
contractor for record management purposes, if the record would 
otherwise have been held by a federal agency and would have 
been subject to FOIA.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \10\The Presidential Records Act of 1978 does make the documentary 
materials of former Presidents subject to 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 FOIA. See Presidential Records Act of 1978, 44 U.S.C.    2201-2207 
(2005). Available at: http://www.archives.gov/about/laws/presidential-
records.html.
    \11\Many 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.
    \12\Except Amtrak, see supra note 10.
    \13\Although those who receive grants are not subject to FOIA, P.L. 
105-277 requires the Director of OMB to ``ensure that all data produced 
under an award will be made available to the public through the 
procedures established under the Freedom of Information Act.'' See 
Omnibus Consolidated & Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, Pub. 
L. No. 105-277 (1998). Available at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-
105publ277/html/PLAW-105publ277.htm.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    All states and some localities have passed laws similar to 
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.\14\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \14\See, e.g., Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. Sec. 
1681, et seq. (2005) (providing for access to files of credit bureaus). 
Available at: http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/031224fcra.pdf; see also 
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). Available at: http://law.justia.com/codes/us/
2005/title20/chap31/subchapiii/part4/sec1232g/. Some states have 
enacted laws allowing individuals to have access to personnel records 
maintained by employers. See, e.g., Bullard-Plawecki Employee Right to 
Know Act, Mich. Code Ann.   423.501 (2005). Available at: http://
www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(gia0qg55xfi2mw3gaq4qie55))/
mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&objectname;=mcl-423-501.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

              B. WHAT RECORDS CAN BE REQUESTED UNDER FOIA?

    Any agency record may be requested under FOIA. 
Additionally, some records must be published online and in the 
Federal Register, and can be obtained without filing a FOIA 
request. These records are discussed at the end of this 
section.
    The form in which a record is maintained by an agency does 
not affect its availability. A requester may seek a printed or 
typed document, tape recording, map, photograph, computer 
printout, electronic correspondence, computer tape or disk, or 
a similar item. Under FOIA, any record that is in the 
possession and control of a federal--agency_regardless of the 
form in which it is stored--is ordinarily considered to be an 
agency record.
    Not all records that can be requested under FOIA must be 
disclosed. Records exempt from disclosure are described below 
in the section entitled ``Reasons Access May Be Denied under 
FOIA.''
    An agency is not obligated 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 research or 
analyze data for a requester. \15\ However, an agency will 
sometimes help a requester identify a specific document that 
contains the information being sought.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \15\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.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    A second general limitation on FOIA requests is that each 
request must reasonably describe the records being sought. 
Requests should be carefully written in order to obtain the 
desired information. 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 with a 
reasonable amount of effort. The Office of Government 
Information Services (OGIS) is now a valuable resource for 
requesters who need help resolving a dispute with an agency. 
OGIS is discussed in more detail below, under ``The Office of 
Government Information Services.''
    Requesters should make requests as specific as possible. If 
a particular document is required, it should be identified 
precisely, preferably by date and title. Narrowing a request's 
focus may benefit the requester because the request can be 
processed more quickly and less expensively. The agency 
benefits because it can do a better job of responding to the 
request efficiently and effectively. However, a request does 
not always have to be so specific. A requester who cannot 
identify a specific record should clearly explain his or her 
aims. A requester should make sure, however, that a request is 
broad enough to include all desired information.
    Including a telephone number and an e-mail address can help 
facilitate communication with an agency. Some questions about 
the scope of a request can be resolved quickly when an agency 
employee and the requester talk. This may be an efficient way 
to resolve questions that arise during the processing of FOIA 
requests.
    FOIA requires agencies to publish certain information in 
the Federal Register, thereby, under the Government Printing 
Office Electronic Information Access Enhancement Act of 
1993,\16\ making the following 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.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \16\Government Printing Office Electronic Information Access 
Enhancement Act of 1993, 44 U.S.C. Sec.  4101 (2005). Available at: 
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-103s564es/pdf/BILLS-103s564es.pdf. 
See generally the Government Printing Office Access web site. Available 
at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The Act also requires agencies to make available the 
following resources 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.\17\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \17\The 1996 amendments to FOIA require that this general index be 
made available electronically.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                        C. MAKING A FOIA REQUEST

Deciding Where to Send a Request

    Anyone considering a FOIA request should first consider 
whether the information is available without a FOIA request. If 
an agency has already posted records online, they may be 
available in electronic reading rooms, which can be found on 
the agency website. Agencies are generally not required to 
provide records in response to a FOIA request if the 
information is publicly available online.
    The first step in making a request under 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.\18\ 
Agencies that receive a FOIA request for records that are the 
property of another agency are to determine which agency owns 
the requested record and refer the FOIA request to that agency. 
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 sought can make FOIA requests at more than one 
agency. Individual agency websites may also be consulted for 
useful FOIA information. Requesters who do not know which 
agencies would most likely have the records they are seeking 
may wish to contact the Office of Government Information 
Services (OGIS) for additional help.\19\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \18\An electronic version of the Manual may be found on the Office 
of the Federal Register web site. Available at: http://
www.gpoaccess.gov/nara/index.html.
    \19\OGIS's website is available at: https://ogis.archives.gov/for-
foia-requesters.htm.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Requirements for FOIA Requests

    A FOIA request is required to be in writing. Most agencies 
accept FOIA requests in the form of a mailed letter, an email, 
or a facsimile. Many agencies also accept requests through an 
online form that can often be found on the agency's FOIA 
website. A request for records under FOIA can be short and 
simple. A lawyer is not needed 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.\20\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \20\All agencies have issued FOIA regulations that describe the 
request process in greater detail. These regulations are available on 
agency FOIA websites or the Department of Justice's FOIA website. 
Available at: http://www.FOIA.gov.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Required--What a FOIA Request Should Include

    There are three basic elements to a FOIA request letter. 
The letter should state that the request is being made pursuant 
to the Freedom of Information Act. The letter must also 
identify the records being sought. This should be as specific 
as possible and should reasonably describe the records so that 
an agency representative familiar with the subject matter can 
readily identify records.
    The requester's contact information must also be included, 
and the requester's name and address are required. Many 
requesters also include their email addresses and telephone 
numbers so that agencies may contact them more easily.

Optional--Fees

    There are several optional items that are often included in 
a FOIA request. The first is a statement of 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 additional correspondence and 
delay.

Optional--Request for Fee Waivers

    A second optional item sometimes included in a FOIA request 
is a request for a waiver or reduction of fees. 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 
requester's commercial interest. Decisions about granting fee 
waivers are separate from and different than decisions about 
the amount of fees that can be charged to a requester.

Optional--Desired Format of Records Sought

    A third 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, if an agency 
maintains information in an electronic form, the requester can 
ask that the information be provided in that same form (such as 
on a compact disc, a ZIP file, or a flash drive) or in hardcopy 
(such as a paper printout). Agencies are required to provide 
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 effort includes informing 
requesters of costs and delays that format preferences might 
engender.

Optional--Request for Expedited Processing

    A fourth optional consideration in a FOIA request is 
whether to seek expedited processing. If a FOIA request is 
expedited, the agency will process the request more quickly. 
Certain requests qualify for expedited processing if the 
requester can demonstrate a ``compelling need'' for a speedy 
response. Pursuant to FOIA, a ``compelling need'' is 
demonstrated in two circumstances. The first circumstance 
occurs when 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.''\21\ Agencies may determine in 
their regulations other cases in which they will provide 
expedited processing. The agency is required to provide a 
decision within 10 days of a request for expedited processing.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \21\ Department of Justice, ``When to Expedite FOIA Requests,'' 
1983. Available at: http://www.justice.gov/oip/foia--updates/Vol--IV--
3/page3.htm.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The specified categories that qualify as a ``compelling 
need'' are intended to be narrowly applied. A threat to an 
individual's life or physical safety should be imminent to 
qualify for expedited FOIA processing. 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.
    If an agency grants a request for expedited processing, but 
fails to process the request in a timely manner, the requester 
can bring an action in district court to challenge the agency's 
failure to respond. A requester should keep a copy of the 
request letter and related correspondence until the request has 
been resolved.

                        D. FEES AND FEE WAIVERS

Fees

    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, and can be found on many 
agencies' FOIA websites. Each agency also sets its own 
threshold for minimum charges.
    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.

Types of Fees

    FOIA requesters may have to pay fees covering some or all 
of the costs of processing their requests. There are three 
types of fees that may be charged to FOIA requesters.
    First, agencies may impose fees to recover the cost of 
copying documents. All agencies have a fixed price for making 
copies. 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. Pursuant to FOIA, the term ``search'' 
means to review, manually or by automated means, agency records 
which respond to a request. This includes the time spent 
looking for material responsive to a request. Under FOIA, an 
agency need not create records that do not exist. Computer 
records found in a database rather than a file cabinet, 
however, may require the application of codes or some form of 
programming to retrieve the records. Records maintained 
completely in an electronic format, like computer database 
information, are to be considered records for the purposes of 
FOIA, even though some manipulation of the information likely 
would be necessary to search the records and provide 
appropriate materials to a requester. 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. Review costs may 
be charged to commercial requesters only. Review charges 
include only 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.

Categorical Fee Limitations

    Different fees apply to different requesters. There are 
three categories of FOIA requesters. The first category 
includes representatives of the news media and educational or 
noncommercial scientific institutions whose purpose is 
scholarly or scientific research. The second category includes 
commercial requesters, and the third category includes everyone 
else.

Members of the News Media, Education and Scientific Institutions

    The requirements to qualify as the first type of requester 
(a representative of the news media or educational or 
noncommercial scientific institution whose purpose is scholarly 
or scientific research) include certain non-traditional members 
of the media such as bloggers and free-lance journalists. To 
qualify as a member of the news media, a requester must 
demonstrate an ability to widely disseminate information, and 
verify that there is no commercial interest in the requested 
records. 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.

Commercial Requesters

    The second category of requester seeks records for 
commercial use. Commercial use is not defined in the law, but 
generally includes profit-making activities. A commercial user 
can be charged reasonable standard charges for document 
duplication, search, and review.

Other

    The third category of FOIA requesters includes everyone not 
in the first two categories. Persons 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.

General Fee Limitations

    Small requests are free for all non-commercial requesters. 
Specifically, agencies may not charge a fee for the first two 
hours of search time and for the first 100 pages of documents. 
A non-commercial requester who limits a request to a small 
number of easily found records should not be charged any fees.
    In addition, the law also prevents agencies from charging 
fees if the cost of collecting the fee would exceed the amount 
a requester would be charged. This limitation applies to all 
requests, including requests made for commercial purposes. 
Thus, if the allowable charges for any FOIA request are small, 
no fees are imposed.
    Under FOIA, agencies have 20 business days to process a 
request.\22\ Agencies may seek up to 10 additional days to 
process a request. If the agency does request an extension, the 
agency must notify the requester of such action and identify 
the ``unusual circumstances'' that prompted the need for 
additional time, as well as the date on which a determination 
is expected. If an agency fails to meet these limits, search 
fees are waived for all requesters, and duplication fees are 
waived for requesters who are members of the news media or an 
educational or noncommercial scientific institution whose 
purpose is scholarly or scientific research.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \22\Processing a request is not the same as providing requested 
records. To process a request, an agency must notify a requester of 
receipt of a request and whether the agency will provide the requested 
records or intends to withhold all or some of the requested records, 
pursuant to FOIA's exemptions. More detailed information on agency 
responses is provided in ``Requirements for Agency Responses.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Determinations of Fee Categories

    Determinations about fee categories 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 be charged duplication fees only. However, a requester 
found to be a reporter is not automatically entitled to a 
public interest waiver of those fees. A reporter who seeks a 
public interest fee waiver must demonstrate that the request 
also meets the standards for the waiver.

How To Request a Public Interest Fee Waiver

    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 charged 
only duplication costs may still ask that the charges be waived 
because of the public benefits that would result from 
disclosure. A representative of the news media, a scholar, or a 
public interest group is more likely to qualify for a fee 
waiver. A commercial user will find it more difficult to 
qualify for waivers. 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 requester's ability to convey 
that information to other interested members of the public. A 
requester is not eligible for a fee waiver solely because of 
his or her inability to pay an assessed fee.

Agency Penalty for Overdue Responses

    If an agency cannot comply with time limits for responding 
to a request as defined in FOIA, and no unusual circumstances 
exist, the agency may not collect search fees for the request. 
In such cases, requesters who represent the news media\23\ or 
an educational institution and have no commercial interest in 
the records sought (i.e. those who are not required to pay a 
search fee to begin with) will not be subject to duplication 
fees.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \23\Pursuant to the 2007 FOIA amendments, the term ``representative 
of the news media'' has been expanded to include new and evolving 
mediums. The FOIA definition states, ``any person or entity that 
gathers information of potential interest to a segment of the public, 
uses its editorial skills to turn the raw materials into a distinct 
work, and distributes that work to an audience'' is a representative of 
the news media. ``News'' is defined as information about ``current 
events or that would be of current interest to the public.'' FOIA also 
states that ``as methods of news delivery evolve...alternative media 
shall be considered to be news-media entities.'' See Openness Promotes 
Effectiveness in our Nat'l Government Act of 2007, Pub. L. No. 110-175, 
121 Stat. 2524 (codified as amended at 5 U.S.C. Sec.  552 (2009)). 
Available at: http://www.justice.gov/oip/amended-foia-redlined.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  E. REQUIREMENTS FOR AGENCY RESPONSES

Initial Responses

    Under FOIA, each agency is required to determine within 20 
days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays) after 
the receipt of a request whether the requested records will be 
released. Agencies usually notify the requester in writing 
whether they intend to comply with the request or if they are 
claiming the records are protected from public release. If the 
agency is to comply with the request, 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.

Tracking Numbers

    In its response, an agency is required to provide the 
requester with a tracking number for any FOIA request that 
cannot be processed within ten days. This tracking number is 
important to keep for reference. Many agencies have online 
systems that allow requesters to use their tracking numbers to 
see the status of their requests. The tracking number is also 
useful when contacting the agency about the status of the 
request or when filing an appeal.

Unusual Circumstances

    FOIA permits an agency to extend the time limits to notify 
a requester whether records will be released by up to 10 days 
if the agency can claim an ``unusual circumstance.'' An unusual 
circumstance is defined by FOIA as the need to collect records 
from remote locations, review large numbers of records, or 
consult with other agencies. An agency must inform the 
requester that the request cannot be processed within the 
statutory time limits and provide the date the determination is 
expected. The agency must also provide the requester the 
opportunity to limit the scope of the request and/or arrange 
with the agency a negotiated deadline for processing the 
request. If the requester refuses to reasonably limit the scope 
of the request or agree upon a timeframe and then seeks 
judicial review of the agency's failure to provide the 
requested records, that refusal shall be considered as a factor 
in determining whether exceptional circumstances exist for a 
judicial extension of processing time.

Time Limits for Response

    The 20-day response period begins on the date the request 
is first received by the appropriate component of the agency, 
but no later than ten days after any component of the agency 
receives the request. 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. In other cases, certain agencies 
allocate inadequate resources to FOIA offices. Congress does 
not condone the failure of any agency to meet the law's time 
limits.

Agency Delays

    If an agency fails to respond within the required time 
limits, a requester may appeal to the agency or contact the 
Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) to obtain 
dispute resolution services. When all other remedies have been 
exhausted, a requester may file a lawsuit. If a requester 
litigates because the agency has not responded to the request 
within FOIA time limits, a judge may allow an agency additional 
time in exceptional circumstances. An agency must demonstrate 
that exceptional circumstances exist and that it is exercising 
due diligence in responding to the request. Exceptional 
circumstances do not include any delays that result from 
predictable agency workloads, unless the agency can demonstrate 
that it is making reasonable progress in reducing a backlog of 
pending requests.
    Litigation should be used as a last resort, once all other 
administrative remedies have been exhausted. Requesters should 
first try to contact an agency either in writing or by phone to 
ask about the status of a request. If an agency fails to 
provide the requester with a reasonable time line for a 
response to the request, or fails to meet that time line, a 
requester may file an appeal with the agency.
    A requester may also choose to contact the Office of 
Government Information Services (OGIS). OGIS acts as an 
official ``FOIA Ombudsman.'' The responsibilities of OGIS 
include facilitating communication between agencies and 
requesters, as well as mediating disputes over FOIA requests. 
OGIS's mediation is non-binding. A requester may utilize OGIS's 
dispute resolution to resolve issues with an agency's 
processing of a request without resorting to litigation. OGIS 
will be described in greater detail below, in the section 
entitled ``The Office of Government Information Services.''
    Each agency generally processes requests in the order in 
which they are received. Some agencies, however, will expedite 
the processing of certain, 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. 
Agencies have long processed FOIA requests on a ``first in, 
first out'' basis. However, many agencies now categorize simple 
and complex requests separately in order to prevent the 
unnecessary delay of simple requests. Agencies should exercise 
due diligence on all FOIA requests regardless of complexity or 
scope. Agencies also may give requesters the opportunity to 
limit the scope of their requests to qualify for processing 
under a faster track.

               F. REASONS ACCESS MAY BE DENIED UNDER FOIA

    Agencies may have a legitimate need to refuse to release 
certain records. FOIA provides nine exemptions that agencies 
may apply to ensure that certain types of records are protected 
from public release. An agency may refuse to disclose an agency 
record that falls within any of 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 
withheld (but nevertheless identified) because only agency 
records are available under FOIA. Personal notes of agency 
employees, for example, may be denied on this basis. Most 
records in the possession of an agency, however, are ``agency 
records'' within the meaning of FOIA.
    Agencies are not always required to withhold records that 
fall under one of the nine exemptions. If an agency determines 
that exempt records could be released without any resulting 
harm, the agency should release the records. However, an agency 
should not disclose an exempt document that could endanger 
national security, could violate an individual's personal 
privacy, or that contains a trade secret.
    When a record contains some information that qualifies as 
exempt, the entire record is not necessarily exempt. Instead, 
FOIA specifically provides that any reasonably segregable 
portions of a record must be provided to a requester after the 
deletion or redaction of the portions that are exempt. Agencies 
may not withhold an entire document simply because one line or 
one page is exempt. Agencies are required 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.

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 not established by FOIA or 
another law, but by the President. The current presiding 
executive order on classification standards is Executive Order 
(E.O.) 13526.\24\ If a document has been properly classified 
under a presidential executive order, FOIA provides that the 
document can be withheld from disclosure.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \24\President Barack Obama, ``Executive Order 13526, Classified 
Nat'l Sec. Information,'' Dec. 29, 2009, 75 Fed. Reg. 707, Jan. 5, 
2010. Available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/ the-press-office/
executive-order- classified-national-security-information. Previous 
executive orders on classification are as follows: Executive Order 
12958, Apr. 17, 1995 (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)). Available at: http://www.archives.gov/ isoo/
policy-documents/eo-12958-amendment.html
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Classified documents may still be requested under FOIA. An 
agency can review the document to determine if it requires 
protection. E.O. 13526, Section 3.5 sets the rules for 
mandatory declassification review, a process that is instigated 
in response to a declassification request. As with a FOIA 
request, a member of the public may seek a mandatory 
declassification review request. The process requires the 
original classifier to assess whether the classified 
information still meets the standards for continued 
classification specified in Section 1.2(a) of E.O. 13526.\25\ 
Certain types of information are exempt from mandatory 
declassification requests, such as information originated by 
the President or Vice President and some of the individuals who 
work with them, and documents required to be submitted for 
prepublication review (e.g., memoirs by intelligence agents).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \25\See id. Executive Order 13526, Sec.  1.2(a) establishes the 
three levels of classification--confidential, secret, and top secret--
based upon the severity of damage to the United States national 
security that could be expected to result.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

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, exemption 2 protects only a 
relatively small scope of internal agency records, mostly 
pertaining to agency personnel processes, information relating 
to personnel rules, or internal agency practices.

Exemption 3.--Information Exempt Under Other Laws

    The third exemption incorporates into FOIA other laws that 
specifically require agencies to withhold certain records from 
public release. To qualify under this exemption, a statute must 
require that a record ``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 information or refer ``to particular types of 
matters to be withheld'' and specifically cite exemption 3 of 
FOIA.
    One example of a qualifying statute is the Internal Revenue 
Code provision prohibiting the public disclosure of tax returns 
and tax return information (26 U.S.C. Sec. 6103).\26\ Other 
qualifying exemption 3 statutes include the law designating 
identifiable census data as confidential (13 U.S.C. Sec. 9), 
and a provision protecting U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs 
records relating to drug addiction, alcohol abuse, AIDS or 
sickle cell anemia from public release (38 U.S.C. Sec. 
7332).\27\ Whether a particular statute qualifies under 
exemption 3 can be a difficult legal question. Congress may 
enact issue-specific information disclosure prohibitions that 
fall under exemption 3.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \26\26 U.S.C. Sec.  6103 (2005). Available at: http://www.gpo.gov/
fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2010-title26/pdf/USCODE-2010-title26-subtitleF-chap61-
subchapB-sec6103.pdf.
    \27\13 U.S.C. Sec.  9 (2005). Available at: http://
uscode.house.gov/download/pls/13C1.txt.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

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 government disclosure would likely 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 defined as 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 FOIA, many 
agencies will notify a submitter of business information that 
disclosure of the information is being considered.\28\ The 
submitter then has an opportunity to convince the agency that 
the information qualifies for withholding. A submitter can also 
file a suit to block disclosure under FOIA. Such lawsuits are 
generally referred to as ``reverse'' FOIA lawsuits because they 
constitute an attempt to prevent rather than to require the 
disclosure of information under FOIA.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \28\See Executive Order 12600, June 23, 1987 (52 Federal Register 
23781-83 (June 25, 1987)). Available at: http://www.archives.gov/
federal-register/codification/executive-order/12600.html. Certain 
agencies may have promulgated regulations that require it to provide 
notification to any person who submitted information to the federal 
government if the agency intends to release the record to the public.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Exemption 5.--Internal Government Communications

    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 or her supervisor describing options for 
conducting the agency's business.
    The fifth exemption's purpose is to safeguard the 
government's deliberative policymaking process. 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 exemption's application is complicated. In fact, 
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 decision-making process is appropriate 
only for records created during 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.
    The exemption also incorporates the same 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 withheld from discovery in civil litigation.

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 the only basis for withholding information 
is a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy, there is a 
perceptible tilt in favor of disclosure in the exemption. 
Nevertheless, the sixth exemption makes it difficult 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. 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 FOIA and vice versa. The Privacy 
Act will be discussed in greater detail later in this Guide.

Exemption 7.--Law Enforcement

    The seventh exemption allows agencies to withhold law 
enforcement records in order to protect an ongoing law 
enforcement investigation from interference. The exemption was 
amended significantly in 1986, but it still retains six 
specific sub-exemptions.
    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 all of the 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.

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.

Exemption 9.--Geological Information

    The ninth FOIA exemption covers geological and geophysical 
information, data, and maps about wells. This exemption is 
rarely used.\29\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \29\According to the Department of Justice's Office of Information 
Policy, three federal departments and one agency applied Exemption 9 in 
FY2010. The four entities involved a total of 11 Exemption 9 times. See 
U.S. Department of Justice, ``Summary of Annual FOIA Reports for Fiscal 
Year 2010.'' Available at: http://www.justice.gov/oip/foiapost/fy2010-
ar-summary.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                           G. FOIA EXCLUSIONS

    The 1986 amendments to FOIA gave agencies limited authority 
to respond to a request without confirming the existence of 
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, or 
a blanket refusal to confirm or deny whether it exists.
    In some narrow instances, even refusing to release a record 
can produce consequences similar to those resulting from 
disclosure of the record itself. These circumstances are 
sometimes referred to as the ``Glomar Response,'' or 
``Glomarization,'' named after the Glomar Explorer. The Glomar 
Explorer was a ship built for the Central Intelligence Agency 
(CIA) for a secret operation to recover a Soviet submarine that 
sank in 1968. In 1975, a journalist filed a FOIA request asking 
for records on the Glomar Explorer. The CIA responded that it 
could ``neither confirm nor deny'' its involvement. The U.S. 
District Court of Appeals supported the CIA's decision, ruling 
that even the existence of the records in that case was itself 
classified.\30\ To avoid this rare problem, the 1986 amendments 
established three ``record exclusions.''\31\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \30\The National Security Archive, ``Project Azorian: The CIA's 
Declassified history of the Glomar Explorer,'' February 12, 2010. 
Available at: http://www.gwu.edu/nsarchiv/nukevault/ebb305/index.htm.
    \31\U.S.C. Sec.  552(c)(1). Available at: http://www.justice.gov/
oip/amended-foia-redlined-2010.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The exclusions allow an agency to treat certain exempt 
records as if the records were not subject to FOIA. An agency 
is not required to include in a FOIA response three specific 
categories of records: records whose release could interfere 
with a law enforcement investigation, records that could 
identify a criminal law enforcement agency's informant, and 
records related to foreign intelligence, counterintelligence, 
or international terrorism. 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 applicable only 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 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 respond regarding 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 FOIA.
    The third exclusion applies only to records maintained by 
the Federal Bureau of Investigation that 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 applies only 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 applies, agencies are given 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, 
which the Department of Justice has done through its 
publications. 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 notify the 
requester of the right to appeal the denial to the head of the 
agency. A requester may appeal the denial of a record or the 
denial of a fee waiver. Additionally, a requester may appeal 
the type or amount of fees that were charged. A requester may 
appeal any other type of adverse determination, which may 
include an agency's refusal to release records that it claims 
were inadequately described in a request or an agency's claim 
that it could not locate requested records. A requester can 
also appeal an adverse determination if 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 is not 
necessary to file an appeal. Anyone 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 determination 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.
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    Many agencies assign a number to all FOIA requests that are 
received. Agencies are required to assign a tracking number to 
any request that will take longer than ten days to process, and 
are required to provide requesters with an assigned tracking 
number for reference.\33\ The tracking number should be 
included in the appeal letter, along with the requester's name 
and address. It is 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 to 
include in an appeal a telephone number and e-mail address 
where the requester can be contacted.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \33\5 U.S.C. Sec.  552(a)(7). Available at: http://www.justice.gov/
oip/amended-foia-redlined-2010.pdf. Agencies are not required to assign 
a tracking number to any request that will take ten or fewer days to 
process.
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    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. FOIA presumes access, and 
agencies must justify why records should not be released. It is 
sufficient to state that the agency's initial decision is being 
appealed. Appendix 1 includes a sample appeal letter.
    FOIA does not set a time limit for filing an administrative 
appeal of a FOIA denial. 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, in certain cases, for an agency to 
extend the time limit 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 challenge to that denial 
in court. However, unless there is an urgent need for records, 
this may not be the best course of action. The courts are not 
usually sympathetic to appeals based solely on an agency's 
failure to comply with FOIA's time limits.

            I. THE OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES

    In the OPEN Government Act of 2007, Congress created the 
Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) within the 
National Archives and Records Administration. The office serves 
as the federal government's FOIA Ombudsman, and is required by 
5 U.S.C. Sec. 552(h) to:
         Provide mediation services to resolve disputes 
        between FOIA requesters and federal agencies;
         Review the policies and procedures of 
        administrative agencies under FOIA;
         Review agency compliance with FOIA; and
         Recommend policy changes to the Congress and 
        President to improve the administration of FOIA.\34\
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    \34\U.S. Office of Government Information Services, "OGIS 
Procedures." Available at: https://ogis.archives.gov/about-ogis/ogis-
procedures.htm.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    OGIS provides a variety of online resources to requesters 
and can serve to open the lines of communication between a 
requester and an agency in certain cases. Prior to filing a 
FOIA request, a requester may choose to access OGIS's 
``Requester Best Practices'' web page, which provides tips on 
how to prepare a FOIA request and work with FOIA professionals 
to receive the records sought.\35\ If a requester has not 
received the records sought and believes that the agency does 
not understand the request or is not responding to the request 
appropriately, the requester may choose to contact OGIS for 
assistance. A requester can contact OGIS for assistance at any 
point during the FOIA process. A requester does not need an 
attorney to seek assistance from OGIS. OGIS provides these 
services to Federal agencies as well. Any person can ask OGIS 
for assistance by sending an e-mail, making a telephone call, 
writing a letter, sending a fax, or visiting the OGIS website.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \35\U.S. Office of Government Information Services, ``Requester 
Best Practices: Filing a FOIA Request.'' Available at: https://
ogis.archives.gov/for-foia-requesters/requester-best-practices---
filing-a-foia-request.htm.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Requesters or agencies seeking OGIS assistance on a pending 
or processed FOIA request should provide the office with the 
following information when possible:\36\
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    \36\OGIS can be contacted via mail, e-mail, or fax. See U.S. Office 
of Government Information Services, ``OGIS Staff.'' Available at: 
http://www.archives.gov/ogis/contact.htm.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
         A name, street address or e-mail address, and 
        a daytime telephone number;
         A description of the issue or the assistance 
        sought. For example, a requester may experience a delay 
        in receiving a response to a FOIA request or may have 
        been denied specific information;
         The name of the department or agency involved;
         Copies of any letters or other materials 
        exchanged with that agency, including the original case 
        number assigned to the FOIA request or appeal; and
         A privacy consent statement with signature and 
        date.
    According to OGIS, it will contact the customer and then 
``begin fact-finding, which may include consulting with the 
customer and the agencies or FOIA requester involved in the 
case to clarify the issues raised'' and determine a possible 
resolution.\37\ OGIS publishes a weekly case log that publicly 
reports the case number, the date of receipt, a description of 
the nature of the issue, a description of the status of the 
case, and the closing date for each case.\38\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \37\U.S. Office of Government Information Services, ``The Office of 
Government Information Services (OGIS) Procedures.'' Available at: 
http://www.archives.gov/ogis/resources/ogis-procedures.html.
    \38\See U.S. Office of Government Information Services, ``Search 
OGIS Cases.'' Available at: https://ogis.archives.gov/ogis-toolbox/
search-ogis-cases.htm.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    OGIS may facilitate communication between a FOIA requester 
and an agency. OGIS can also schedule more structured, non-
binding mediation services in cases when both the agency and 
the requester agree to do so. OGIS may then issue advisory 
opinions if mediation fails to resolve a dispute. Requesting 
OGIS assistance does not affect a requester's right to 
challenge a FOIA determination in court. All of OGIS's services 
are provided free of charge to its customers.

           J. FILING A JUDICIAL CHALLENGE (OR A FOIA LAWSUIT)

    When an administrative appeal is denied, a requester has 
the right to challenge the denial in court. A FOIA 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.
    Requesters are sometimes successful when they go to court, 
but the results vary considerably1A\39\ Some requesters who 
file FOIA lawsuits find that an agency will disclose some 
documents previously withheld rather than litigate its 
withholding decision in court. There is, however, no guarantee 
that the filing of a judicial appeal will result in any 
additional disclosure.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \39\See supra note 9. A listing of FOIA-related court decisions is 
available from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Information 
Policy.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Most requesters seek the assistance of an attorney to file 
a FOIA lawsuit, but legal counsel is not required. A person who 
files a lawsuit and substantially prevails may be awarded 
reasonable attorney fees if the requester has an attorney, and 
litigation costs reasonably incurred. However, FOIA amendments 
made by the OPEN Government Act of 2007 may provide eligibility 
for recouping fees under broader circumstances than in the 
past. Under FOIA, as amended, if an agency changes its position 
during the course of litigation, such as deciding to release 
the records being sought by the plaintiff, the plaintiff may be 
eligible for reimbursement of attorney fees. Only requesters 
who are seeking documents in the public interest, not in a 
commercial or personal interest, are eligible for reimbursement 
of attorney fees.
    Some requesters may be able to handle their own case 
without an attorney. Since this is not a litigation guide, 
details of the litigation process have not been included. 
Anyone considering filing a FOIA lawsuit should consider 
reading the provisions of FOIA on judicial review.

                      VI. 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. 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 
FOIA are also subject to the Privacy Act. The Privacy Act does 
not generally apply to records maintained by State and local 
governments, private companies, or organizations.\40\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \40\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. In addition, Section 7 of the Privacy Act, 
which concerns social security numbers, applies not only to Federal 
agencies, but to state and local government agencies as well. See The 
Privacy Act of 1974, as amended by 5 U.S.C. Sec.  552(a). Available at: 
http://www.justice.gov/opcl/privstat.htm.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The Privacy Act grants rights only 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 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 about an individual, 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 
retrieved by an individual's name, Social Security number, or 
other identifying symbol.
    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 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. 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 must 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 of 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, except as permitted by the act, 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 formal 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 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.

                          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 Department of Defense. 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 contains a complete list of all federal 
agencies, a description of agency functions, and the address of 
the agency and its field offices.\41\ An agency responsible for 
operating a program normally maintains the records related to 
that program.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \41\An electronic version of the Manual may be found on the Office 
of the Federal Register web site. Available at: http://
www.gpoaccess.gov/nara/index.html.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Third, the Federal Citizen 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 
Citizen Information Centers throughout the country that can 
help requesters determine which agency would maintain the 
appropriate system of records sought.\42\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \42\For more information on Federal Citizen Information Centers, 
individuals may visit the General Services Administration's central 
website. Available at: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/category/100000.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Fourth, every two years, the Office of the Federal Register 
compiles 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 and is available on the Federal Register 
website.\43\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \43\Agencies are required to publish in the Federal Register a 
description of each system of records when the system is established or 
amended. A compilation of these descriptions is available on the 
Federal Register Website. Available at: https://
www.federalregister.gov/.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    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 clearest way to make a Privacy Act request is to 
identify the specific system of records that contains the 
records sought. The more narrow and specific a Privacy Act 
request, the more quickly an agency can locate records and 
respond. 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.\44\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \44\All agencies have Privacy Act regulations that describe the 
request process in greater detail. These regulations can be found on 
each agency's website.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    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 Department of 
Defense narrow its search to systems of records that are likely 
to contain the information 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, while 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 is to 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 be made only 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 FOIA. Under FOIA, fees can sometimes be 
charged to recover search costs and review costs.\45\ 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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    \45\An individual seeking records about himself or herself under 
FOIA should not be charged review charges. The only charges applicable 
to first-person requesters under 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.

                  F. REQUIREMENTS FOR AGENCY RESPONSES

    Unlike FOIA, there is no fixed time when an agency must 
respond to a request for access to records under the Privacy 
Act. 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 officer about how to ask for expedited 
treatment of requests. At many agencies, FOIA and Privacy Act 
requests are processed by the same personnel.

         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 FOIA. Under 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 must be claimed for 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. The Privacy Act may not be used as a 
basis to withhold records which would otherwise be available 
under FOIA.
    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.
    The Privacy Act's exemptions differ from those of FOIA in 
another important way. FOIA is a disclosure law. Information 
exempt under 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 
access 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 FOIA. This is a primary 
reason individuals should cite both the Privacy Act and 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, 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 FOIA and will normally be 
unavailable under both FOIA and the Privacy Act.
    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.\46\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \46\This distinction between express and implied promises of 
confidentiality is repeated throughout other specific exemptions of the 
Privacy Act that reference promises of confidentiality.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    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 that 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 
exempt from the Privacy Act's access provisions. However, the 
Privacy Act authorizes special procedures for disclosure.
    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. While medical records have special procedures, they 
are not exempted from disclosure.

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 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 FOIA and Privacy Act when making a 
request. FOIA provides specifically for an administrative 
appeal, and agencies are required to consider an appeal under 
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 FOIA was cited when the 
request for access was made, the letter should state that the 
appeal is also being made under FOIA. This is important because 
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 
an email address and 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 FOIA cannot be amended 
through the Privacy Act unless the records are also subject to 
the Privacy Act.
    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-hand 
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 practice for a requester to include 
an email address and a telephone number as well.
    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 
clearly note the information that is disputed 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 A PRIVACY ACT LAWSUIT

    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. Important 
among these 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 in which the individual lives, in which the 
records are situated, or in the District of Columbia. A lawsuit 
must be filed within two 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.
                               APPENDICES

             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 have included an e-mail address and a 
telephone number at which I can be contacted, 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]
    E-mail Address [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 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 have also included an e-mail address and a 
telephone number at which I can be contacted, 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-mail Address [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 [Optional] 
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 have also included an e-mail address and a 
telephone number at which I can be contacted, 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]
    E-mail Address [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 FOIA.
    [Optional] I have also included an e-mail address and a 
telephone number at which I can be contacted, 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-mail Address [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 have also included an e-mail address and a 
telephone number at which I can be contacted, if necessary, to 
discuss any aspect of my appeal.
    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]
    E-mail Address [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 have also included an e-mail address and a 
telephone number at which I can be contacted, 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-mail Address [Optional]

               APPENDIX 2--HISTORY OF THE CITIZEN'S GUIDE

    In 1977, the House Committee on Government Operations 
issued the first Citizen's Guide on how to request records from 
Federal agencies.\47\ The original Guide was widely read and 
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.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \47\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.\48\ 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.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \48\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 1A\49\ 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
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \49\102 Stat. 2507, Public Law 100-53.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    1987 Guide became outdated as a result, and a third edition 
was issued in 1989.\50\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \50\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 FOIA and Privacy Act made through the 
end of 1990.\51\ A fifth edition of the Guide, produced in 
1993, included an expanded bibliography and editorial 
changes.\52\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \51\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, 102nd Cong., 1st sess. (1991).
    \52\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.\53\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \53\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.\54\ 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.\55\ It also 
contained bibliography additions and editorial changes. The 9th 
edition reflected further bibliography additions and editorial 
changes,\56\ as did the 10th and 11th editions.\57\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \54\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).
    \55\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).
    \56\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., 2nd sess. (2002).
    \57\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., 2nd sess. (2003), and A Citizen's Guide on Using the 
Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974 To Request 
Government Records, H. Rept. H. Rept. 109-226, 109th Cong., 1st sess. 
(2005).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    During the 110th Congress, FOIA was amended under the 
``Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government 
Act of 2007,'' commonly referred to as the OPEN Government 
Act.\58\ The OPEN Government Act made several amendments to 
FOIA. Among those changes was the establishment of a new Office 
of Government Information Services (OGIS), created as a 
mediator and information resource for agencies and FOIA 
requesters. The legislation also amended the policies governing 
fee waivers, clarified statutory time limits, and delineated 
disclosure policies. This edition of the report reflects those 
changes.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \58\P.L. 110-175.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

     APPENDIX 3--RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE USE OF THE CITIZEN'S GUIDE

    The committee recommends that this Citizen's Guide be made 
widely available, both in print and electronic format, 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 a variety of ways. The document 
should be used in training programs for government employees 
who administer FOIA or the Privacy Act of 1974. The Guide 
should also be used by those government employees who only 
occasionally work with either of these two laws.
    In following these recommendations, however, agencies are 
not relieved of their obligation to comply with the provisions 
of FOIA, which, among other things, requires agencies to make 
publicly available, upon request, an agency guide and agency-
specific reference material 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 guides are intended to be a short and simple 
explanation of what FOIA is designed to do. They should explain 
how a member of the public can use it to access federal agency 
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.\59\ 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 FOIA-related litigation involving the agency, 
and the resolution of those cases. If an agency requires 
specific forms be filed for a requester to qualify for certain 
FOIA procedures--such as expedited processing--then those forms 
should be part of the guide.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \59\ Pursuant to FOIA, agencies are required to provide an annual 
report to the Department of Justice (DOJ). Among the information 
required in the report is data on the average and median length of time 
it took the agency to respond to a FOIA request as well as information 
on the ten requests that have been pending within the agency for the 
longest amount of time. (5 U.S.C. Sec.  552(e)(1)) All annual FOIA 
reports are available on the DOJ's Office of Information Policy 
website. Available at: http://www.justice.gov/oip/reports.html.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The guide should reference all major information systems 
and explain how a requester can obtain additional records about 
them. Any agency-specific systems that help locate records 
should be similarly referenced in the guide.
    All agency guides should be available electronically and 
should be linked to each agency's statutorily required annual 
FOIA report. A citizen using an agency guide should learn how 
and where to access the agency's annual reports. Conversely, 
any potential FOIA requester reading an annual report should 
learn where and how to access the agency guide.

 APPENDIX 4--BIBLIOGRAPHY OF CONGRESSIONAL PUBLICATIONS ON THE FREEDOM 
                           OF INFORMATION ACT

         CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS, REPORTS, DOCUMENTS, AND PRINTS

    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Clarifying and 
Protecting the Right of the Public to Information and for Other 
Purposes. S. Rept. 1219, 88th Congress, 2nd Session. 1964.
    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Freedom of Information. 
Hearings, 98th Congress, 1st Session. 1964.
    House Committee on Government Operations. Federal Public 
Records Law. Hearings, 89th Congress, 2nd 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.
    House Committee on Government Operations. Clarifying and 
Protecting the Right of the Public to Information. H. Rept. 
1497, 89th Congress, 2nd Session. 1966.
    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.
    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, 2nd Session. 1968.
    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The Freedom of 
Information Act (Ten Months Review).
    Committee print, 90th Congress, 2nd Session. 1968.
    House Committee on Government Operations. Administration of 
the Freedom of Information Act. H. Rept. 92-1419, 92nd 
Congress, 2nd Session. 1972.
    House Committee on Government Operations. Sale or 
Distribution of Mailing Lists By Federal Agencies. Hearings, 
92nd Congress, 2nd 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, 2nd 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, 2nd 
Session. 1972.
    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.
    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, 2nd 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, 2nd 
Session. 1974.
    House Committee on Government Operations. Security 
Classification Reform. Hearings, 93rd Congress, 2nd 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, 2nd Session. 1974.
    House/Senate Committee of Conference. Freedom of 
Information Act Amendments. H. Rept. 93-1380 or S. Rept. 93-
1200, 93rd Congress, 2nd Session. 1974.
    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Amending the Freedom of 
Information Act. S. Rept. 93-854, 93rd Congress, 2nd Session. 
1974.
    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Freedom of Information 
Act Source Book: Legislative Materials, Cases, Articles. S. 
Doc. 93-82, 93rd Congress. 2nd Session. 1974.
    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.
    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.
    House Committee on Government Operations. FBI Compliance 
with the Freedom of Information Act. Hearing, 95th Congress, 
2nd 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, 2nd Session. 1978.
    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The Erosion of Law 
Enforcement Intelligence and Its Impact on the Public Security. 
Committee print, 95th Congress, 2nd 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 2nd Sessions. 1977-1978.
    House Committee on Government Operations. Security 
Classification Exemption to the Freedom of Information Act. 
Hearing, 95th Congress, 1st Session. 1979.
    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, 2nd Session. 1980.
    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Agency Implementation of 
the 1974 Amendments to the Freedom of Information Act. 
Committee print, 95th Congress, 2nd Session. 1980.
    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, 2nd Session. 1981.
    House Committee on Government Operations. The Freedom of 
Information Act: Federal Law Enforcement Implementation. 
Hearing, 96th Congress, 1st Session. 1981.
    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, 2nd 
Session. 1982.
    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Freedom of Information 
Reform Act. S. Rept. 98-221, 98th Congress, 1st Session. 1983.
    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Freedom of Information 
Reform Act. Hearings, 98th Congress, 1st Session. 1984.
    House Committee on Government Operations. The Freedom of 
Information Reform Act. Hearings, 98th Congress, 2nd Session. 
1985.
    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Amendments to the 
Freedom of Information Act. Hearing, 98th Congress, 2nd 
Session. 1985.
    House Committee on Government Operations. Freedom of 
Information Act Amendments of 1986. Hearing, 99th Congress, 2nd 
Session. 1986.
    House Committee on Government Operations. Freedom of 
Information Act Amendments of 1986. H. Rept. 99-832, 99th 
Congress, 2nd Session. 1986.
    House Committee on Government Operations. FOIA: Alternate 
Dispute Resolution Proposals. Hearings, 100th Congress, 1st 
Session. 1988.
    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The Freedom of 
Information Act. Hearing, 100th Congress, 2nd Session. 1989.
    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, 2nd Session. 1990.
    House Committee on Government Operations, Creative Ways of 
Using and Disseminating Federal Information. Hearings, 102nd 
Congress, 1st and 2nd Sessions. 1991, 1992.
    House Committee on Government Operations. Assassination 
Materials Disclosure Act of 1992. H. Rept. 102-624 Part 1, 
102nd Congress, 2nd Session. 1992.
    House Committee on the Judiciary. Assassination Materials 
Disclosure Act of 1992. Hearing, 102nd Congress, 2nd Session. 
1992.
    House Committee on the Judiciary. Assassination Materials 
Disclosure Act of 1992. H. Rept. 102-624 Part 2, 102nd 
Congress, 2nd Session. 1992.
    Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. The Assassination 
Materials Disclosure Act of 1992. Hearing, 102nd Congress, 2nd 
Session. 1992.
    Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. Assassination 
Materials Disclosure Act of 1992. S. Rept. 102-328, 102nd 
Congress, 2nd Session. 1992.
    House Committee on Government Operations. Assassination 
Materials Disclosure Act of 1992. Hearings, 103d Congress, 2nd 
Session. 1993.
    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The Electronic Freedom 
of Information Improvement Act. Hearing, 103d Congress, 2nd 
Session. 1993.
    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, 2nd Session. 1994.
    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Electronic Freedom of 
Information Improvement Act of 1995. S. Rept. 104-272, 104th 
Congress, 2nd Session. 1996.
    House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight. 
Electronic Freedom of Information Amendments of 1996. H. Rept. 
104-795, 104th Congress, 2nd Session. 1996.
    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, 2nd Session. 1998.
    House Committee on Government Reform. H.R. 88, Regarding 
Research Data Available Under the Freedom of Information Act. 
Hearing, 106th Congress, 1st Session. 1999.
    House Committee on Government Reform. Agency Response to 
the Electronic Freedom of Information Act. Hearing, 106th 
Congress, 2nd Session. 2000.
    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.
    House Committee on Government Reform. Implementing FOIA--
Does the Bush Administration's Executive Order Improve 
Processing? Hearing, 109th Congress, 2nd Session. 2006.
    House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The 
State of the FOIA: Assessing Agency Efforts to Meet FOIA 
Requirements. Hearing, 110th Congress, 1st Session. 2007.
    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Open Government: 
Reinvigorating the Freedom of Information Act. Hearing, 110th 
Congress, 1st Session. 2007.
    House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. 
Implementation of the Office of Government Information 
Services. Hearing, 110th Congress, 2nd Session. 2008.
    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Advancing Freedom of 
Information in the New Era of Responsibility. Hearing, 111th 
Congress, 1st Session. 2009.
    House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. 
Administration of the Freedom of Information Act: Current 
Trends. Hearing, 111th Congress, 2nd Session. 2010.
    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The Freedom of 
Information Act: Ensuring Transparency and Accountability in 
the Digital Age. Hearing, 112th Congress, 1st Session. 2011.
    House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The 
Freedom of Information Act: Crowd-Sourcing Government 
Oversight. Hearing, 112th Congress, 1st Session. 2011.
    House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Why 
Isn't the Department of Homeland Security Meeting the 
President's Standard on FOIA? Hearing, 112th Congress, 1st 
Session. 2011.
    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The Freedom of 
Information Act: Safeguarding Critical Infrastructure 
Information and the Public's Right to Know. Hearing, 112th 
Congress, 2nd Session, 2012.
    House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. FOIA in 
the 21st Century: Using Technology to Improve Transparency in 
Government. Hearing, 112th Congress, 2nd Session. 2012.

 APPENDIX 5--BIBLIOGRAPHY OF CONGRESSIONAL PUBLICATIONS ON THE PRIVACY 
                              ACT OF 1974

         CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS, REPORTS, DOCUMENTS, AND PRINTS

    House Committee on Government Operations. Records 
Maintained By Government Agencies. Hearings, 92nd Congress, 2nd 
Session. 1972.
    House Committee on Government Operations. Access to 
Records. Hearings, 93rd Congress, 2nd 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 2nd Sessions. 1973-1974.
    House Committee on Government Operations. Privacy Act of 
1974. H. Rept. 93-1416, 93rd Congress, 2nd Session. 1974.
    Senate Committee on Government Operations. Protecting 
Individual Privacy in Federal Gathering, Use and Disclosure of 
Information. S. Rept. 93-1183, 93rd Congress, 2nd 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, 2nd 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, 2nd Session. 1974.
    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Federal Data Banks and 
Constitutional Rights. [Summary.] Committee print, 93rd 
Congress, 2nd Session. 1974.
    Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Federal Data Banks and 
Constitutional Rights. Committee print, 93rd Congress, 2nd 
Session. 1974. 6 v.
    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.
    House Committee on Government Operations. Notification to 
Victims of Improper Intelligence Agency Activities. Hearings, 
94th Congress, 2nd 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, 2nd Session. 
1976.
    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.
    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, 2nd Session. 1978.
    House Committee on Government Operations. Federal Privacy 
of Medical Information Act. H. Report 96-832 Part 1, 96th 
Congress, 2nd 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, 2nd 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, 2nd Session. 1980.
    House Committee on Ways and Means. Federal Privacy of 
Medical Information Act. Hearing, 96th Congress, 2nd Session. 
1980.
    House Committee on Ways and Means. Federal Privacy of 
Medical Information Act, H.R. 5935 Committee print, 96th 
Congress, 2nd Session. 1980.
    House Committee on Government Operations. Confidentiality 
of Insurance Records. Hearings, 96th Congress, 1st and 2nd 
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.
    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 rivacy 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, 2nd Session. 
1983.
    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, 2nd 
Session. 1984.
    Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. Computer Matching 
and Privacy Protection Act of 1986. Hearing, 99th Congress, 2nd 
Session. 1986.
    House Committee on Government Operations. Computer Matching 
and Privacy Protection Act of 1987. Hearing, 100th Congress, 
1st Session. 1987.
    House Committee on Government Operations. Computer Matching 
and Privacy Protection Act of 1988. H. Rept. 100-802, 100th 
Congress, 2nd Session. 1988.
    House Committee on Government Operations. Computer Matching 
and Privacy Protection Amendments of 1990. Hearing, 101st 
Congress, 2nd Session. 1990.
    House Committee on Government Operations. Computer Matching 
and Privacy Protection Amendments of 1990. H. Rept. 101-768, 
101st Congress, 2nd Session. 1990.
    House Committee on Government Operations. Data Protection, 
Computers, and Changing Information Practices. Hearing, 101st 
Congress, 2nd Session. 1990.
    House Committee on Government Operations. Domestic and 
International Data Protection Issues. Hearing, 102nd Congress, 
1st Session. 1991.
    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, 102nd Congress, 2nd Session. 
1992.
    House Committee on Government Reform. H.R. 4049, To 
Establish the Commission for the Comprehensive Study of Privacy 
Protection. Hearing, 106th Congress, 2nd Session.2000.
    House Committee on Government Reform. H.R. 220, The Freedom 
and Privacy Restoration Act. Hearing, 106th Congress, 2nd 
Session. 2000.
    House Committee on Government Reform. The Privacy Act and 
the Presidency. Hearing, 106th Congress, 2nd Session. 2000.
    House Committee on Homeland Security. Protection of Privacy 
in the DHS Intelligence Enterprise, Part I and II. Hearing, 
119th Congress, 2nd Session. 2006.
    Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
Affairs. Protecting Personal Information: Is the Federal 
Government Doing Enough? Hearing, 110th Congress, 2nd Session. 
2008.

     APPENDIX 6--SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY OF NON-CONGRESSIONAL RESOURCES

      USING THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT AND PRIVACY ACT OF 1974

    Note on availability: These materials 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 websites; 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.

    Ashcroft, John. Memorandum to the Heads of Executive 
Departments and Agencies. ``The Freedom of Information Act.'' 
October 12, 2001. Available at: http://www.cjog.net/
background--the--ashcroft--memo.html.
    Executive Office of the President. ``Memorandum for the 
President.'' June 29, 1966. Available at: http://www.gwu.edu/
nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB194/ Document%2014.pdf.
    Holder, Eric. Memorandum to the Heads of Executive 
Departments and Agencies. ``The
    Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).'' March 19, 2009. 
Available at: http://www.justice.gov/ag/foia-memo-
march2009.pdf.
    Kennedy, George. ``How Americans Got Their Right to Know.'' 
The John Moss Foundation. 1996. Available at: http://
www.johnemossfoundation.org/foi/kennedy.htm.
    LaFleur, Jennifer, Al Shaw and Jeff Larson. ``FOIA b(3) 
Exemptions.'' ProPublica. March 10, 2010. Available at: http://
projects.propublica.org/foia-exemptions/.
    National Security Archive. ``FOIA Basics.'' Available at: 
http://www.gwu.edu/nsarchiv/nsa/foia/guide.html.
    National Security Archive. ``Freedom of Information at 
40.'' July 4, 2006. Accessed March 12,
    2011. http://www.gwu.edu/nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB194/
index.htm.
    National Security Archive. ``Glass Half Full: 2011 Knight 
Open Government Survey Finds
    Freedom of Information Change, But Many Federal Agencies 
Lag in Fulfilling President Obama's Day One Openness Pledge.'' 
March 14, 2011. Available at: http://www.gwu.edu/nsarchiv/
NSAEBB/NSAEBB338/index.htm.
    Obama, Barack. Memorandum for the Heads of Executive 
Departments and Agencies.
    ``Freedom of Information Act.'' January 21, 2009. Available 
at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the--press--office/
FreedomofInformationAct/.
    Office of Government Information Services. ``About OGIS,'' 
``Resolving Federal FOIA Disputes,'' ``OGIS Case Logs.'' 
Available at: http://www.archives.gov/ogis/about.html.
    U.S. Department of Commerce. ``FOIA Exemptions.'' Available 
at: http://www.osec.doc.gov/omo/foia/exemptions.htm.
    U.S. Department of Justice. ``FOIA.gov.'' March 14, 2011. 
Available at: www.foia.gov.

           APPENDIX 7--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.
        In this clause, the term `representative of the news 
        media' means any person or entity that gather 
        information of potential interest to a segment of the 
        public, uses its editorial skills to turn the raw 
        materials into a distinct work, and distributes that 
        work to an audience. In this clause, the term `news' 
        means information that is about current events or that 
        would be of current interest to the public. Examples of 
        news-media entities are television or radio stations 
        broadcasting to the public at large and publishers of 
        periodicals (but only if such entities qualify as 
        disseminators of `news') who make their products 
        available for purchase by or subscription by or free 
        distribution to the general public. These examples are 
        not all-inclusive. Moreover, as methods of news 
        delivery evolve (for example, the adoption of the 
        electronic dissemination of newspapers through 
        telecommunications services), such alternative media 
        shall be considered to be news-media entities. A 
        freelance journalist shall be regarded as working for a 
        news-media entity if the journalist can demonstrate a 
        solid basis for expecting publication through that 
        entity, whether or not the journalist is actually 
        employed by the entity. A publication contract would 
        present a solid basis for such an expectation; the 
        Government may also consider the past publication 
        record of the requester in making such a determination.
          (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.
          (viii) An agency shall not assess search fees (or in 
        the case of a requester described under clause 
        (ii)(II), duplication fees) under this subparagraph if 
        the agency fails to comply with any time limit under 
        paragraph (6), if no unusual or exceptional 
        circumstances (as those terms are defined for purposes 
        of paragraphs (6)(B) and (C), respectively) apply to 
        the processing of the request.
          (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. Pub. L. 98-620, title IV, Sec. 402(2), 
        Nov. 8, 1984, 98 Stat. 3357.]
          (E)(i) 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.
          (ii) For purposes of this subparagraph, a complainant 
        has substantially prevailed if the complainant has 
        obtained relief through either--
                  (I) a judicial order, or an enforceable 
                written agreement or consent decree; or
                  (II) a voluntary or unilateral change in 
                position by the agency, if the complainant's 
                claim is not insubstantial.
          (F)(i) 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.
          (ii) The Attorney General shall--
                  (I) notify the Special Counsel of each civil 
                action described under the first sentence of 
                clause (i); and
                  (II) annually submit a report to Congress on 
                the number of such civil actions in the 
                preceding year.
          (iii) The Special Counsel shall annually submit a 
        report to Congress on the actions taken by the Special 
        Counsel under clause (i).
          (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 
                therefore, 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.
        The 20-day period under clause (i) shall commence on 
        the date on which the request is first received by the 
        appropriate component of the agency, but in any event 
        not later than ten days after the request is first 
        received by any component of the agency that is 
        designated in the agency's regulations under this 
        section to receive requests under this section. The 20-
        day period shall not be tolled by the agency except--
                          (I) that the agency may make one 
                        request to the requester for 
                        information and toll the 20-day period 
                        while it is awaiting such information 
                        that it has reasonably requested from 
                        the requester under this section; or
                          (II) if necessary to clarify with the 
                        requester issues regarding fee 
                        assessment. In either case, the 
                        agency's receipt of the requester's 
                        response to the agency's request for 
                        information or clarification ends the 
                        tolling period.
          (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. To aid the requester, each agency shall make 
        available its FOIA Public Liaison, who shall assist in 
        the resolution of any disputes between the requester 
        and the agency. 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.
          (7) Each agency shall--
                  (A) establish a system to assign an 
                individualized tracking number for each request 
                received that will take longer than ten days to 
                process and provide to each person making a 
                request the tracking number assigned to the 
                request; and
                  (B) establish a telephone line or Internet 
                service that provides information about the 
                status of a request to the person making the 
                request using the assigned tracking number, 
                including--
                          (i) the date on which the agency 
                        originally received the request; and
                          (ii) an estimated date on which the 
                        agency will complete action on the 
                        request. [Effective one year from date 
                        of enactment]
  (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 th 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 a 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, and the exemption under which the deletion 
is made, 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, and the exemption under which the deletion 
is made, 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 the 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), the number of 
        occasions on which each statute was relied upon, 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 and average 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, based on the date 
        on which the requests were received by the agency;
          (F) the average number of days for the agency to 
        respond to a request beginning on the date on which the 
        request was received by the agency, the median number 
        of days for the agency to respond to such requests, and 
        the range in number of days for the agency to respond 
        to such requests;
          (G) based on the number of business days that have 
        elapsed since each request was originally received by 
        the agency--
                  (i) the number of requests for records to 
                which the agency has responded with a 
                determination within a period up to and 
                including 20 days, and in 20-day increments up 
                to and including 200 days;
                  (ii) the number of requests for records to 
                which the agency has responded with a 
                determination within a period greater than 200 
                days and less than 301 days;
                  (iii) the number of requests for records to 
                which the agency has responded with a 
                determination within a period greater than 300 
                days and less than 401 days; and
                  (iv) the number of requests for records to 
                which the agency has responded with a 
                determination within a period greater than 400 
                days;
          (H) the average number of days for the agency to 
        provide the granted information beginning on the date 
        on which the request was originally filed, the median 
        number of days for the agency to provide the granted 
        information, and the range in number of days for the 
        agency to provide the granted information;
          (I) the median and average number of days for the 
        agency to respond to administrative appeals based on 
        the date on which the appeals originally were received 
        by the agency, the highest number of business days 
        taken by the agency to respond to an administrative 
        appeal, and the lowest number of business days taken by 
        the agency to respond to an administrative appeal;
          (J) data on the 10 active requests with the earliest 
        filing dates pending at each agency, including the 
        amount of time that has elapsed since each request was 
        originally received by the agency;
          (K) data on the 10 active administrative appeals with 
        the earliest filing dates pending before the agency as 
        of September 30 of the preceding year, including the 
        number of business days that have elapsed since the 
        requests were originally received by the agency;
          (L) the number of expedited review requests that are 
        granted and denied, the average and median number of 
        days for adjudicating expedited review requests, and 
        the number adjudicated within the required 10 days;
          (M) the number of fee waiver requests that are 
        granted and denied, and the average and median number 
        of days for adjudicating fee waiver determinations;
          (N) the total amount of fees collected by the agency 
        for processing requests; and
          (O) 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) Information in each report submitted under paragraph (1) 
shall be expressed in terms of each principal component of the 
agency and for the agency overall.
  (3) 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. In addition, each agency 
shall make the raw statistical data used in its reports 
available electronically to the public upon request.
  (4) 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.
  (5) 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.
  (6) 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--
                  (A) 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; and
                  (B) any information described under 
                subparagraph (A) that is maintained for an 
                agency by an entity under Government contract, 
                for the purposes of records management.
  (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.
  (h)(1) There is established the Office of Government 
Information Services within the National Archives and Records 
Administration.
  (2) The Office of Government Information Services shall--
          (A) review policies and procedures of administrative 
        agencies under this section;
          (B) review compliance with this section by 
        administrative agencies; and
          (C) recommend policy changes to Congress and the 
        President to improve the administration of this 
        section.
  (3) The Office of Government Information Services shall offer 
mediation services to resolve disputes between persons making 
requests under this section and administrative agencies as a 
non-exclusive alternative to litigation and, at the discretion 
of the Office, may issue advisory opinions if mediation has not 
resolved the dispute.
  (i) The Government Accountability Office shall conduct audits 
of administrative agencies on the implementation of this 
section and issue reports detailing the results of such audits.
  (j) Each agency shall designate a Chief FOIA Officer who 
shall be a senior official of such agency (at the Assistant 
Secretary or equivalent level).
  (k) The Chief FOIA Officer of each agency shall, subject to 
the authority of the head of the agency--
          (1) have agency-wide responsibility for efficient and 
        appropriate compliance with this section;
          (2) monitor implementation of this section throughout 
        the agency and keep the head of the agency, the chief 
        legal officer of the agency, and the Attorney General 
        appropriately informed of the agency's performance in 
        implementing this section;
          (3) recommend to the head of the agency such 
        adjustments to agency practices, policies, personnel, 
        and funding as may be necessary to improve its 
        implementation of this section;
          (4) review and report to the Attorney General, 
        through the head of the agency, at such times and in 
        such formats as the Attorney General may direct, on the 
        agency's performance in implementing this section;
          (5) facilitate public understanding of the purposes 
        of the statutory exemptions of this section by 
        including concise descriptions of the exemptions in 
        both the agency's handbook issued under subsection (g), 
        and the agency's annual report on this section, and by 
        providing an overview, where appropriate, of certain 
        general categories of agency records to which those 
        exemptions apply; and
          (6) designate one or more FOIA Public Liaisons.
  (l) FOIA Public Liaisons shall report to the agency Chief 
FOIA Officer and shall serve as supervisory officials to whom a 
requester under this section can raise concerns about the 
service the requester has received from the FOIA Requester 
Center, following an initial response from the FOIA Requester 
Center Staff. FOIA Public Liaisons shall be responsible for 
assisting in reducing delays, increasing transparency and 
understanding of the status of requests, and assisting in the 
resolution of disputes.
    (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, Title 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, Public Law No. 110-
175, 121 Stat. 2524)

              APPENDIX 8--TEXT OF THE PRIVACY ACT OF 1974

      552a. Records maintained on individuals
  (a) Definitions.--For purposes of this section--
          (1) the term ``agency'' means agency as defined in 
        section 552(f) of this title;
          (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; or
                          (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. Sec.  
                        402(x)(3), Sec.  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, any joint committee of Congress 
        or subcommittee of any such joint committee;
          (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; or
          (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.
  (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) Archival Records.--
          (1) 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 
                        financial 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 of the House 
                of Representatives; and
                  (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 statute 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 which 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 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.
  (s) [Biennial report] Repealed by the Federal Reports 
Elimination and Sunset Act of 1995, Pub. L. No. 104-66, Sec.  
3003, 109 Stat. 707, 734-36 (1995), amended by Pub. L. No. 106-
113, Sec.  236, 113 Stat. 1501, 1501A-302 (1999) (changing 
effective date to May 15, 2000).
  (t) Effect of Other Laws.--
          (1) 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 or 
                        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 of the House of Representatives.
          (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) The Director of the Office of Management and 
        Budget shall, annually during the first 3 years after 
        the date of enactment of this subsection and biennially 
        thereafter, consolidate in a report to the Congress the 
        information contained in the reports from the various 
        Data Integrity Boards under paragraph (3)(D). Such 
        report shall include detailed information about costs 
        and benefits of matching programs that are conducted 
        during the period covered by such consolidated report, 
        and shall identify each waiver granted by a Data 
        Integrity Board of the requirement for completion and 
        submission of a cost-benefit analysis and the reasons 
        for granting the waiver.
          (7) In the reports required by paragraphs (3)(D) and 
        (6), 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 and oversight of 
        the implementation of this section by agencies.
The following section originally was part of the Privacy Act 
but was not codified; it may be found at Sec. 552a (note).
  Sec. 7(a)(1) It shall be unlawful for any Federal, State or 
local government agency to deny to any individual any right, 
benefit, or privilege provided by law because of such 
individual's refusal to disclose his social security account 
number.
  (2) the provisions of paragraph (1) of this subsection shall 
not apply with respect to--
          (A) any disclosure which is required by Federal 
        statute, or
          (B) any disclosure of a social security number to any 
        Federal, State, or local agency maintaining a system of 
        records in existence and operating before January 1, 
        1975, if such disclosure was required under statute or 
        regulation adopted prior to such date to verify the 
        identity of an individual.
  (b) Any Federal, State or local government agency which 
requests an individual to disclose his social security account 
number shall inform that individual whether that disclosure is 
mandatory or voluntary, by what statutory or other authority 
such number is solicited, and what uses will be made of it.
  The following sections originally were part of P.L. 100-503, 
the Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act of 1988; they 
may be found at Sec.  552a (note).
  Sec. 6 Functions of the Director of the Office of Management 
and Budget.
          (b) Implementation Guidance for Amendments.--The 
        Director shall, pursuant to section 552a(v) of Title 5, 
        United States Code, develop guidelines and regulations 
        for the use of agencies in implementing the amendments 
        made by this Act not later than 8 months after the date 
        of enactment of this Act.
  Sec. 9 Rules of Construction.
  Nothing in the amendments made by this Act shall be construed 
to authorize--
          (1) the establishment or maintenance by any agency of 
        a national data bank that combines, merges, or links 
        information on individuals maintained in systems of 
        records by other Federal agencies;
          (2) the direct linking of computerized systems of 
        records maintained by Federal agencies;
          (3) the computer matching of records not otherwise 
        authorized by law; or
          (4) the disclosure of records for computer matching 
        except to a Federal, State, or local agency.
    Sec. 10 Effective Dates.
  (a) In General.--Except as provided in subsection (b), the 
amendments made by this Act shall take effect 9 months after 
the date of enactment of this Act.
  (b) Exceptions.--The amendment made by sections 3(b) [Notice 
of Matching Programs--Report to Congress and the Office of 
Management and Budget], 6 [Functions of the Director of the 
Office of Management and Budget], 7 [Compilation of Rules and 
Notices], and 8 [Annual Report] of this Act shall take effect 
upon enactment.
    (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.)