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What Happens To My FOIA Request?

The CDC/ATSDR and FOIA

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was signed into law on July 4, 1966, by President Lyndon B. Johnson. This law grants public access to federal agency records, unless those records are exempt from public release by one of the nine exemptions within FOIA that allow certain records to be withheld from public inspection.

In accordance with the Act and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s implementing regulations, CDC/ATSDR works to provide all releasable records to the public. To that end, the Agency works diligently to process each FOIA request as quickly as possible. The CDC/ATSDR FOIA Office receives numerous requests each day. To manage this large and complex system, the Agency processes FOIA requests in chronological order by date of receipt and complexity, in accordance with the court sanctioned approach. Requests that are less complex in nature can usually be released within 30 days. The more complex requests can take much longer to process. For example, some complex requests require an extensive search, contain a large volume of records to be processed, and/or require the redaction of exempt material. Requests may also require consultation with another office or agency and/or negotiation with submitters of proprietary information.

To help you better understand the FOIA process at CDC, please see the information below. For additional information about FOIA, please visit the U.S. Department of Justice website.

Please note: The CDC/ATSDR Federal FOIA Process is provided for informational purposes only. The agency is bound by the Freedom of Information Act, and other applicable Federal law but may have to adjust its process and practices when appropriate. Nothing in the “CDC/ATSDR Federal FOIA Process” document, nor any deviation from the document, is intended to create a right of action against the Department.

1 You write a FOIA request For help writing a request visit www.cdc.gov/od/foia/foidir.htm
2 You fax, mail, or
e-mail request
Fax, mail or e-mail your request to CDC/ATSDR. Contact information is available on CDC/ATSDR FOIA website.
3 Initial review of request

After an initial review:

  • Requests for expedited services are either granted or denied within ten days from date of receipt in FOIA Office. Appeal rights are given with any denial of expedited services.
  • All other requests will be acknowledged by a letter from the CDC/ATSDR FOIA Office within 20 working days of receipt of your request. The FOIA Office may contact you if additional information is required to “perfect” your request. There could be issues to resolve such as: your fee status; required authorizations; or the scope of your request.
4 Your request is processed

The FOIA request is sent to the CDC/ATSDR component(s) responsible for the subject areas within the scope of the request (expedited requests are the priority for each of the components).

  • Pertinent agency records are identified
  • Fee calculations are coordinated with the CDC/ATSDR FOIA Office
  • File is reviewed by the organization for completeness

At this stage, the timeliness of the request is dependant on the backlog of requests received, the organization’s workload, and the complexity of the request.

5 Your request is routed The request file is returned to the CDC/ATSDR FOIA Office for final processing.
6 Your request is sorted

In the CDC/ATSDR FOIA Office, the request is sorted into one of three categories:

  • Expedited (Expedited requests that are granted are processed immediately)
  • Simple
  • Complex

The complex and simple requests are placed in chronological order awaiting the court sanctioned “first in-first out” final processing.

Timeliness of completion of final processing is dependant on the backlog of requests and the complexity of the request.

7 Your response file is reviewed

When the request’s sequence number is ready for final processing, the CDC/ATSDR FOIA Office reviews for:

  • Exempt material
  • Adequacy of response
  • Proper authorizations
  • Unresolved fee issues
8 Your response is released

The CDC/ATSDR FOIA Office will prepare the final response letter and will either:

  • Release documents in full
  • Release documents in part and provide appeal rights
  • Withhold documents in full and provide appeal rights
  • Notify requestor that no relevant records were located and provide appeal rights

Timeliness of response is dependent on agency workload and the complexity of the request.

9 You can file an appeal

If you disagree with the CDC/ATSDR’s decision, you may send an appeal to the Public Health Service (PHS) Appeals Office.

Requestor has 30 calendar days from the date on the denial letter to send an appeal to the PHS Appeals Office.

10 Your appeal is processed

The PHS Appeals Office will review the CDC/ATSDR response and will either:

  • Release more material
  • Issue a denial and continue to withhold material

 

Please note: The CDC/ATSDR Federal FOIA Process is provided for informational purposes only. The agency is bound by the Freedom of Information Act, and other applicable Federal law but may have to adjust its process and practices when appropriate. Nothing in the “CDC/ATSDR Federal FOIA Process” document, nor any deviation from the document, is intended to create a right of action against the Department.

 

 
Contact Us:
  • Public Liaisions:
    Katherine Norris and Bruno Viana -
    (770) 488-6399

  • CDC/ATSDR FOIA Officer: Katherine Norris

  • A FOIA request must be either mailed, faxed, or
    e-mailed to CDC at:
  • CDC/ATSDR
    Attn: FOIA Office, MS: D54
    1600 Clifton Rd, N.E.
    Atlanta, GA 30333
    FAX: (404) 235-1852
  • FOIARequests@cdc.gov
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
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