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FAQs: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal law that gives the public the right to make requests for federal agency records. The regulation provides information on the agency records that are subject to disclosure, outlines mandatory disclosure procedures, and grants nine exemptions to the statute. NIOSH is required to make requested records available unless the records are protected from disclosure by certain FOIA exemptions.

To find answers to your questions about the Freedom of Information Act, click any one of the questions listed below to view its answer.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

What is the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?

The Freedom of Information Act--FOIA (5 U.S.C. § 552) is a federal law that gives the public the right to make requests for federal agency records. The law defines the types of records that are subject to disclosure, outlines mandatory disclosure procedures, and defines nine exemptions that exclude certain records from disclosure. NIOSH makes requested records available unless the records are protected from disclosure by one or more of the FOIA exemptions. FOIA exemptions can be found on CDC's E-Z Guide to FOIA Exemptions page.

Does FOIA apply only to federal agencies?

Yes, FOIA applies only to federal agencies. It does not apply to records held by Congress, the courts, or by state or local government agencies. Each state has its own public access laws that should be consulted for access to state and local records.

Why does NIOSH request that claimants use the FOIA process when requesting certain types of documents?

Documents pertaining to activities carried out under Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 may include information pertaining to national security or information that is protected under the Privacy Act. The FOIA process ensures that national security or privacy information is appropriately reviewed for possible redactions from a document prior to it being sent to a claimant or other requestor.

Is there a fee to process a FOIA request?

FOIA allows agencies to charge some requestors for FOIA services (e.g., search and review time, copy costs, and special services like document certification and Federal Express fees) if the costs exceed certain thresholds. However, there is no initial fee to make a FOIA request, and in most cases, claimants and SEC petitioners do not pay any fees. If you are concerned about fees, ask for a cost estimate.

For more information on fees, please see the Department of Health and Human Services' page on FOIA Fees.

Can the FOIA processing fee be waived?

It is the policy of HHS to waive or reduce FOIA fees if disclosure of the information meets both of the following criteria:

  • It is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government; and
  • It is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requestor.

Who makes the determination to grant or deny fee waiver requests?

The CDC FOIA Office makes the determination to grant or deny fee waiver requests.

How do I make a FOIA request?

Submit your request to the CDC/ATSDR FOIA Office at the following address:

CDC/ATSDR
Attn: FOIA Office, MS-D54
1600 Clifton Road, N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30333

Fax number: 404-639-7395
Phone number: 404-639-7270
foiarequests@cdc.gov

How long does it take to process a FOIA request?

All FOIA requests are processed as soon as possible in the order they are received.

Who do I contact if I have additional questions about FOIA?

If you have additional questions about FOIA, you can:

Contact DCAS directly:
E-mail: dcas@cdc.gov or ocas@cdc.gov
Phone: 513-533-6800 (toll-free at 1-877-222-7570);

Contact the CDC FOIA Office directly:
E-mail: foiarequests@cdc.gov
Phone: 404-639-7270.

 
Contact DCAS:
Contact Us:
USA.gov: The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Road Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC–INFO