Frequently Asked Questions: CDC/ATSDR

Phone: (770) 488-6399

Fax: (404) 235-1852


Mailing address: CDC/ATSDR FOIA Office
1600 Clifton Road, NE, Mailstop D54
Atlanta, Georgia 30333

There are five (5) ways to submit a FOIA request to the CDC/ATSDR FOIA Office:
(1) Submit a FOIA request via an online request form

(2) Email your FOIA request:

(3) Mail your FOIA request:

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

(4) Fax your FOIA request: 404-235-1852

(5) Submit your request via PAL: FOIA Public Access Link (PAL)

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.

No, a letter with as much specific detail as possible about the records you want is all that’s needed. However, if you are requesting another adult or a minor’s medical or personnel records, you must submit a consent form.

General Lifecycle of a CDC/ATSDR FOIA Request

The steps to process FOIA requests. Once request is received, you will receive an acknowledgment letter within 48 hours. You may be asked to clarify/narrow scope or discuss fees. (This may occur at any point during the lifecycle of the request. The CDC program office(s) search for responsive documents and send to FOIA Office. FOIA Office reviews and makes release determinations. Request is closed and records are sent.

In some circumstances, you are entitled to expedited processing of your FOIA request, if an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual exists , or an urgency to inform the public concerning actual or alleged Federal Government activity exists. If you ask for expedited processing, an agency must make decision to either grant or deny your request for expedited processing within 10 calendar days of the receipt of your request. If your request is granted your request will be processed as soon as practicable.

The cut-off date for CDC/ATSDR is the date the search for records begins.

In general, agencies have 20 working days to respond to a FOIA request. However, some requests, depending on their complexities, may require 30 working days or more (in this instance, you would be notified of the need to extend the period for responding to your request).

FOIA has nine (9) exemptions or categories that an agency is allowed to or must withhold records from release.

If CDC/ATSDR withholds records from you, your response letter will state your appeal rights which says you may challenge the decision to withhold records or parts of records and will describe how you may file an appeal. 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.

The CDC/ATSDR 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.

Departmental Regulationsexternal icon allow us to recover part of the costs associated with processing FOIA requests. For fee purposes, FOIA divides requesters into three categories:

  1. Commercial use requesters are charged for any search time, document review, and duplication
  2. News media, educational, or scientific requesters are charged for duplication only, after the first 100 pages
  3. All other requesters are charged for search time (after two hours) and duplication (after 100 pages)

You may make a specific statement in your request limiting the amount of fees you are willing to pay. If you do not state a specific fee limit we will assume that you are willing to pay all fees incurred while processing your request.

We may notify you and request advance payment if your estimated fees exceeds $250.00.

You may receive the opportunity to narrow your request in order to reduce the fees, or you may be asked to confirm your commitment to pay the estimated amount.

Fee Waivers
You may request a waiverexternal icon for FOIA processing fees. However, fee waivers are limited to situations in which a requester can show that disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations and activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester (see Section 5.45external icon for more information on fee waivers).

The CDC/ATSDR FOIA Office follows the rules set forth in the Department of Health and Human Services’ FOIA regulations at
45 CFR PART 5external icon.

The Public Access Link (PAL) is a comprehensive electronic tool that provides requesters with basic information on how to obtain access to records maintained by CDC. PAL allows a requester to search for records, set up an account to manage multiple requests (setting up an account isn’t required to use PAL), and find out the status of their submitted request(s). PAL will enhance FOIA efficiency by utilizing technology while supporting information sharing, accountability, and transparency. To access, visit Public Access Link (PAL).

You can check on the status of your FOIA request by visiting the FOIA Request Status page and PAL.

If you are unable to determine the status of your FOIA request, call the CDC FOIA Office at 770-488-6399 or the CDC/ATSDR FOIA Public Liaison at 770-488-6277 for assistance.

Page last reviewed: January 9, 2020