CDC/ATSDR Guide to FOIA
- How do I contact the FOIA Requester Service Center?
- What kinds of records can I request from CDC/ATSDR under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?
- How do I make a FOIA request?
- Must I use special forms?
- How does CDC/ATSDR process FOIA requests?
- What is the cut-off date for including records as responsive to requests?
- How long will it take CDC/ATSDR to respond to my request?
- What about expedited processing?
- What kinds of records can CDC/ATSDR withhold?
- How do I know if CDC/ATSDR has withheld records from me?
- What if I think CDC/ATSDR has withheld records and should not have?
- What happens if CDC/ATSDR does not have the records I want?
- Is there a fee for filing a FOIA request?
- What rules govern CDC/ATSDR's FOIA activities?
- How can I reach the CDC/ATSDR FOIA Office?
The FOIA Requester Service Center phone number is (770) 488-6399. If you are unable to determine the status of your FOIA request by using the "Check Status of Current FOIA Request" feature of this website, call the Service Center for assistance. Additionally, you may contact the CDC/ATSDR FOIA Public Liaison for information on the FOIA process at CDC/ATSDR.
All records that are in an agency's possession and that are not already in
the public domain (e.g., in the library or available from a clearinghouse)
are subject to FOIA.
NOTE: A large number of records are available via the home pages of CDC and ATSDR.
Submit your request to the CDC/ATSDR FOIA Office at the following address:
- Attn: FOIA Office, MS-D54
- 1600 Clifton Road, N.E.
- Atlanta, GA 30333
- Fax number: 404-235-1852
- Phone number: 770-488-6399
No, just write a letter with as much detail as possible about the records you want. However, if you want someone's medical or personnel records, you must provide a consent form that:
- is a 1-page form (note: CDC is not a covered entity under HIPAA - please do not provide HIPAA releases)
- names the person whose records are to be released,
- states that CDC is allowed to release the records requested,
- is signed and dated by the person whose records are requested (for adults), and
- has been notarized.
If you request records on a minor (a person under 18 years of age), your consent form must be signed by the minor's parent or guardian. The relationship between the minor and the person signing must be noted on the consent form. If we locate records on a minor, we will need the name and address of a health-care provider to whom we can release the records.
When your request arrives in the FOIA Office, it is logged into a database and sent to the area(s) within CDC/ATSDR that may have the records you want. Program staff in those areas search their files for the records you want. If our staff find records, they review them and send them to the FOIA Office. The FOIA Office then reviews the response package and determines which records can or cannot be released. All releasable records are sent to the requester with a letter from the FOIA Officer.
The cut-off date for CDC/ATSDR is the date the search for records begins.
When your request is logged in, the FOIA Office will send you a postcard to let you know your request was received. Under FOIA, agencies have 20 working days to inform the requester of how the agency intends to process the request. CDC and ATSDR do their best to meet this deadline.
FOIA has 9 exemptions (categories of records that an agency is allowed to or must withhold from release). Records withheld by CDC/ATSDR usually fall into the following categories:
- Records whose release would result in a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy
- Records containing confidential business information
- Inter- or intra-agency records of a predecisional nature, which typically contain the opinions, conclusions, or recommendations of the author(s) and are part of the decision-making or policy-making process of the agency
- Records whose release is prohibited by a law other than FOIA
See the Department's implementing regulations at 45 CFR Part 5 at the end of this document for a complete list of the exemptions.
The FOIA Office will tell you in its response letter if records or parts of records you requested have been withheld and which exemptions apply.
If CDC/ATSDR withholds records from you, your response letter will state your appeal rights. The letter will say that you may challenge the decision to withhold records or parts of records and will describe how you may file an appeal.
The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (Media) will review the records withheld. The Secretary will let you know in writing whether he/she agrees with CDC/ATSDR's withholding of the records. If the Secretary does not agree, you will receive the records that were withheld.
If your appeal is denied, you can file a FOIA lawsuit in the U.S. District Court where you live, in the district where the documents are located, or in the District of Columbia. See the Department's implementing regulations at 45 CFR Part 5 at the end of this document.
The FOIA Office will tell you in writing if they are unable to locate records you requested. They will also inform you of your right to appeal the adequacy of the search. If you choose to appeal, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (Media) will review the details of the search to make sure it was thorough.
If FOIA Office staff know that another agency has the records you want, they will refer you to that agency.
FOIA allows agencies to charge requesters for FOIA services, e.g., search and review time, copy costs, and special services like document certification and Federal Express fees. CDC/ATSDR's fees are set by the Office of Management and Budget.
If you are concerned about costs, ask for a cost estimate. FOIA staff will let you know roughly what your fees will be before they process your request, and they will give you a chance to approve those fees.
For more information on fees/fee waivers see the Department's implementing regulations at 45 CFR part 5 at the end of this document and the U.S. National Department of Justice Reference Guide at www.usdoj.gov/oip/fees.htm.
The FOIA Office follows the rules set forth in the Department of Health and Human Services' FOIA regulations at 45 CFR Part 5.
The FOIA Office can be reached by phone at (770) 488-6399 or by fax at (404) 235-1852. Their address is CDC/ATSDR FOIA Office, 1600 Clifton Road, NE, Mailstop D54, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.
The FOIA reading room for CDC and ATSDR is located in the FOIA Office.
- Public Liaisions:
Katherine Norris and Bruno Viana -
- CDC/ATSDR FOIA Officer: Katherine Norris
- A FOIA request must be either mailed, faxed, or
e-mailed to CDC at:
Attn: FOIA Office, MS: D54
1600 Clifton Rd, N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30333
FAX: (404) 235-1852