Legal Resources/Freedom of Information
Freedom of Information Act of 1966
CITE- 5 USC Sec. 552
-EXPCITE- TITLE 5 PART I CHAPTER 5 SUBCHAPTER II
-HEAD- 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; and
(C) administrative staff manuals and instructions to staff that affect a member of the public; unless the materials are promptly published and copies offered for sale. 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, or staff manual or instruction. However, in each case the justification for the deletion shall be explained fully in writing. 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. 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) Except with respect to the records made available under paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection, each agency, upon any request for records which (A) reasonably describes such records and (B) 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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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) 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.
(F) 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.
(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 ten 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 therefor, 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.
(B) 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 reasons 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. As used in this subparagraph, 'unusual circumstances' means, but only to the extent reasonably necessary to the proper processing of the particular request -
(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.
(C) 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.
(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 the 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 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.
(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 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) On or before March 1 of each calendar year, each agency shall submit a report covering the preceding calendar year to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and President of the Senate for referral to the appropriate committees of the Congress. The report shall include -
(1) the number of determinations made by such agency not to comply with requests for records made to such agency under subsection (a) and the reasons for each such determination;
(2) 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;
(3) the names and titles or positions of each person responsible for the denial of records requested under this section, and the number of instances of participation for each;
(4) the results of each proceeding conducted pursuant to subsection (a)(4)(F), including a report of the disciplinary action taken against the officer or employee who was primarily responsible for improperly withholding records or an explanation of why disciplinary action was not taken;
(5) a copy of every rule made by such agency regarding this section;
(6) a copy of the fee schedule and the total amount of fees collected by the agency for making records available under this section; and
(7) such other information as indicates efforts to administer fully this section. The Attorney General shall submit an annual report on or before March 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 subsections (a)(4)(E), (F), and (G). 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 '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.
-SOURCE- (Pub. L. 89-554, Sept. 6, 1966, 80 Stat. 383; Pub. L. 90-23, Sec. 1, June 5, 1967, 81 Stat. 54; Pub. L. 93-502, Sec. 1-3, Nov. 21, 1974, 88 Stat. 1561-1564; Pub. L. 94-409, Sec. 5(b), Sept. 13, 1976, 90 Stat. 1247; Pub. L. 95-454, title IX, Sec. 906(a)(10), Oct. 13, 1978, 92 Stat. 1225; Pub. L. 98-620, title IV, Sec. 402(2), Nov. 8, 1984, 98 Stat. 3357; Pub. L. 99 570, title I, Sec. 1802, 1803, Oct. 27, 1986, 100 Stat. 3207-48, 3207-49.)
Historical and Revision Notes 1966 Act
Derivation U.S. Code Revised Statutes and
Statutes at Large
5 U.S.C. 1002. June 11, 1946, ch.
324, Sec. 3, 60
In subsection (b)(3), the words 'formulated and' are omitted as surplusage. In the last sentence of subsection (b), the words 'in any manner' are omitted as surplusage since the prohibition is all inclusive. Standard changes are made to conform with the definitions applicable and the style of this title as outlined in the preface to the report. 1967 ACT
Section 1 (of Pub. L. 90-23) amends section 552 of title 5, United States Code, to reflect Public Law 89-487.
In subsection (a)(1)(A), the words 'employees (and in the case of a uniformed service, the member)' are substituted for 'officer' to retain the coverage of Public Law 89-487 and to conform to the definitions in 5 U.S.C. 2101, 2104, and 2105.
In the last sentence of subsection (a)(2), the words 'A final order * * * may be relied on * * * only if' are substituted for 'No final order * * * may be relied upon * * * unless'; and the words 'a party other than an agency' and 'the party' are substituted for 'a private party' and 'the private party', respectively, on authority of the definition of 'private party' in 5 App. U.S.C. 1002(g).
In subsection (a)(3), the words 'the responsible employee, and in the case of a uniformed service, the responsible member' are substituted for 'the responsible officers' to retain the coverage of Public Law 89-487 and to conform to the definitions in 5 U.S.C. 2101, 2104, and 2105.
In subsection (a)(4), the words 'shall maintain and make available for public inspection a record' are substituted for 'shall keep a record * * * and that record shall be available for public inspection'.
In subsection (b)(5) and (7), the words 'a party other than an agency' are substituted for 'a private party' on authority of the definition of 'private party' in 5 App. U.S.C. 1002(g).
In subsection (c), the words 'This section does not authorize' and 'This section is not authority' are substituted for 'Nothing in this section authorizes' and 'nor shall this section be authority', respectively.
5 App. U.S.C. 1002(g), defining 'private party' to mean a party other than an agency, is omitted since the words 'party other than an agency' are substituted for the words 'private party' wherever they appear in revised 5 U.S.C. 552.
5 App. U.S.C. 1002(h), prescribing the effective date, is omitted as unnecessary. That effective date is prescribed by section 4 of this bill.
Section 552 of former Title 5, Executive Departments and Government Officers and Employees, was transferred to section 2243 of Title 7, Agriculture.
1986 - Subsec. (a)(4)(A). Pub. L. 99-570, Sec. 1803, amended subpar. (A) generally. Prior to amendment, subpar. (A) read as follows: 'In order to carry out the provisions of this section, each agency shall promulgate regulations, pursuant to notice and receipt of public comment, specifying a uniform schedule of fees applicable to all constituent units of such agency. Such fees shall be limited to reasonable standard charges for document search and duplication and provide for recovery of only the direct costs of such search and duplication. Documents shall be furnished without charge or at a reduced charge where the agency determines that waiver or reduction of the fee is in the public interest because furnishing the information can be considered as primarily benefiting the general public.'
Subsec. (b)(7). Pub. L. 99-570, Sec. 1802(a), amended par. (7) generally. Prior to amendment, par. (7) read as follows: 'investigatory records compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of such records would (A) interfere with enforcement proceedings, (B) deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication, (C) constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, (D) disclose the identity of a confidential source and, in the case of a record 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, confidential information furnished only by the confidential source, (E) disclose investigative techniques and procedures, or (F) endanger the life or physical safety of law enforcement personnel;'.
Subsecs. (c) to (f). Pub. L. 99-570, Sec. 1802(b), added subsec. (c) and redesignated former subsecs. (c) to (e) as (d) to (f), respectively.
1984 - Subsec. (a)(4)(D). Pub. L. 98-620 repealed subpar. (D) which provided for precedence on the docket and expeditious disposition of district court proceedings authorized by subsec. (a).
1978 - Subsec. (a)(4)(F). Pub. L. 95-454 substituted references to the Special Counsel for references to the Civil Service Commission wherever appearing and reference to his findings for reference to its findings.
1976 - Subsec. (b)(3). Pub. L. 94-409 inserted provision excluding section 552b of this title from applicability of exemption from disclosure and provision setting forth conditions for statute specifically exempting disclosure.
1974 - Subsec. (a)(2). Pub. L. 93-502, Sec. 1(a), substituted provisions relating to maintenance and availability of current indexes, for provisions relating to maintenance and availability of a current index, and inserted provisions relating to publication and distribution of copies of indexes or supplements thereto.
Subsec. (a)(3). Pub. L. 93-502, Sec. 1(b)(1), substituted provisions requiring requests to reasonably describe records for provisions requiring requests, for identifiable records, and struck out provisions setting forth procedures to enjoin agencies from withholding the requested records and ordering their production.
Subsec. (a)(4), (5). Pub. L. 93-502, Sec. 1(b)(2), added par. (4) and redesignated former par. (4) as (5).
Subsec. (a)(6). Pub. L. 93-502, Sec. 1(c), added par. (6).
Subsec. (b)(1). Pub. L. 93-502, Sec. 2(a), designated existing provisions as cl. (A), substituted 'authorized under criteria established by an' for 'required by', and added cl. (B).
Subsec. (b)(7). Pub. L. 93-502, Sec. 2(b), substituted provisions relating to exemption for investigatory records compiled for law enforcement purposes, for provisions relating to exemption for investigatory files compiled for law enforcement purposes.
Subsec. (b), foll. par. (9). Pub. L. 93-502, Sec. 2(c), inserted provision relating to availability of segregable portion of records.
Subsecs. (d), (e). Pub. L. 93-502, Sec. 3, added subsecs. (d) and (e).
1967 - Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 90-23 substituted introductory statement requiring every agency to make available to the public certain information for former introductory provision excepting from disclosure (1) any function of the United States requiring secrecy in the public interest or(2) any matter relating to internal management of an agency, covered in subsec. (b)(1) and (2) of this section.
Subsec. (a)(1). Pub. L. 90-23 incorporated provisions of: former subsec. (b)(1) in (A), inserting requirement of publication of names of officers as sources of information and provision for public to obtain decisions, and striking out publication requirement for delegations by the agency of final authority; former subsec. (b)(2), introductory part, in (B); former subsec. (b)(2), concluding part, in (C), inserting publication requirement for rules of procedure and descriptions of forms available or the places at which forms may be obtained; former subsec. (b)(3), introductory part, in (D), inserting requirement of general applicability of substantive rules and interpretations, added clause (E), substituted exemption of any person from failure to resort to any matter or from being adversely affected by any matter required to be published in the Federal Register but not so published for former subsec. (b)(3), concluding part, excepting from publication rules addressed to and served upon named persons in accordance with laws and final sentence reading 'A person may not be required to resort to organization or procedure not so published' and inserted provision deeming matter, which is reasonably available, as published in the Federal Register when such matter is incorporated by reference in the Federal Register with the approval of its Director.
Subsec. (a)(2). Pub. L. 90-23 incorporated provisions of former subsec. (c), provided for public copying of records, struck out requirement of agency publication of final opinions or orders and authority for secrecy and withholding of opinions and orders required for good cause to be held confidential and not cited as precedents, latter provision now superseded by subsec. (b) of this section, designated existing subsec. (c) as clause (A), including provision for availability of concurring and dissenting opinions, inserted provisions for availability of policy statements and interpretations in clause (B) and staff manuals and instructions in clause (C), deletion of personal identifications from records to protect personal privacy with written justification therefor, and provision for indexing and prohibition of use of records not indexed against any private party without actual and timely notice of the terms thereof.
Subsec. (a)(3). Pub. L. 90-23 incorporated provisions of former subsec. (d) and substituted provisions requiring identifiable agency records to be made available to any person upon request and compliance with rules as to time, place, and procedure for inspection, and payment of fees and provisions for Federal district court proceedings de novo for enforcement by contempt of noncompliance with court's orders with the burden on the agency and docket precedence for such proceedings for former provisions requiring matters of official record to be made available to persons properly and directly concerned except information held confidential for good cause shown, the latter provision superseded by subsec. (b) of this section.
Subsec. (a)(4). Pub. L. 90-23 added par. (4).
Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 90-23 added subsec. (b) which superseded provisions excepting from disclosure any function of the United States requiring secrecy in the public interest or any matter relating to internal management of an agency, formerly contained in former subsec. (a), final opinions or orders required for good cause to be held confidential and not cited as precedents, formerly contained in subsec. (c), and information held confidential for good cause found, contained in former subsec. (d) of this section.
Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 90-23 added subsec. (c).
EFFECTIVE DATE OF 1986 AMENDMENT
Section 1804 of Pub. L. 99-570 provided that:
'(a) The amendments made by section 1802 (amending this section) shall be effective on the date of enactment of this Act (Oct. 27, 1986), and shall apply with respect to any requests for records, whether or not th request was made prior to such date, and shall apply to any civil action pending on such date.
'(b)(1) The amendments made by section 1803 (amending this section) shall be effective 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act (Oct. 27, 1986), except that regulations to implement such amendments shall be promulgated by such 180th day.
'(2) The amendments made by section 1803 (amending this section) shall apply with respect to any requests for records, whether or not the request was made prior to such date, and shall apply to any civil action pending on such date, except that review charges applicable to records requested for commercial use shall not be applied by an agency to requests made before the effective date specified in paragraph (1) of this subsection or before the agency has finally issued its regulations.'
EFFECTIVE DATE OF 1984 AMENDMENT Amendment by Pub. L. 98-620 not applicable to cases pending on Nov. 8, 1984, see section 403 of Pub. L. 98-620, set out as an Effective Date note under section 1657 of Title 28, Judiciary and Judicial Procedure.
EFFECTIVE DATE OF 1978 AMENDMENT
Amendment by Pub. L. 95-454 effective 90 days after Oct. 13, 1978, see section 907 of Pub. L. 95-454, set out as a note under section 1101 of this title.
EFFECTIVE DATE OF 1976 AMENDMENT
Amendment by Pub. L. 94-409 effective 180 days after Sept. 13, 1976, see section 6 of Pub. L. 94-409, set out as an Effective Date note under section 552b of this title.
EFFECTIVE DATE OF 1974 AMENDMENT
Section 4 of Pub. L. 93-502 provided that: 'The amendments made by this Act (amending this section) shall take effect on the ninetieth day beginning after the date of enactment of this Act (Nov. 21, 1974).'
EFFECTIVE DATE OF 1967 AMENDMENT
Section 4 of Pub. L. 90-23 provided that: 'This Act (amending this section) shall be effective July 4, 1967, or on the date of enactment (June 5, 1967), whichever is later.'
SHORT TITLE OF 1986 AMENDMENT
Section 1801 of Pub. L. 99-570 provided that: 'This subtitle (subtitle N (Sec. 1801-1804) of title I of Pub. L. 99-570, amending this section and enacting provisions set out as a note under this section) may be cited as the 'Freedom of Information Reform Act of 1986'.'
This section is popularly known as the 'Freedom of Information Act'.
-EXEC- EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 12174
Ex. Ord. No. 12174, Nov. 30, 1979, 44 F.R. 69609, which related to minimizing Federal paperwork, was revoked by Ex. Ord. No. 12291, Feb. 17, 1981, 46 F.R. 13193, set out as a note under section 601 of this title.
EX. ORD. NO. 12600. PREDISCLOSURE NOTIFICATION PROCEDURES FOR
CONFIDENTIAL COMMERCIAL INFORMATION
Ex. Ord. No. 12600, June 23, 1987, 52 F.R. 23781, provided:
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and statutes of the United States of America, and in order to provide predisclosure notification procedures under the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552) concerning confidential commercial information, and to make existing agency notification provisions more uniform, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. The head of each Executive department and agency subject to the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552) shall, to the extent permitted by law, establish procedures to notify submitters of records containing confidential commercial information as described in section 3 of this Order, when those records are requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552, as amended, if after reviewing the request, the responsive records, and any appeal by the requester, the department or agency determines that it may be required to disclose the records. Such notice requires that an agency use good-faith efforts to advise submitters of confidential commercial information of the procedures established under this Order. Further, where notification of a voluminous number of submitters is required, such notification may be accomplished by posting or publishing the notice in a place reasonably calculated to accomplish notification.
Sec. 2. For purposes of this Order, the following definitions apply:
(a) 'Confidential commercial information' means records provided to the government by a submitter that arguably contain material exempt from release under Exemption 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(4), because disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause substantial competitive harm.
(b) 'Submitter' means any person or entity who provides confidential commercial information to the government. The term 'submitter' includes, but is not limited to, corporations, state governments, and foreign governments.
Sec. 3. (a) For confidential commercial information submitted prior to January 1, 1988, the head of each Executive department or agency shall, tothe extent permitted by law, provide a submitter with notice pursuant to section 1 whenever:
(i) the records are less than 10 years old and the information has been designated by the submitter as confidential commercial information; or
(ii) the department or agency has reason to believe that disclosure of the information could reasonably be expected to cause substantial competitive harm.
(b) For confidential commercial information submitted on or after January 1, 1988, the head of each Executive department or agency shall, to the extent permitted by law, establish procedures to permit submitters of confidential commercial information to designate, at the time the information is submitted to the Federal government or a reasonable time thereafter, any information the disclosure of which the submitter claims could reasonably be expected to cause substantial competitive harm. Such agency procedures may provide for the expiration, after a specified period of time or changes in circumstances, of designations of competitive harm made by submitters. Additionally, such procedures may permit the agency to designate specific classes of information that will be treated by the agency as if the information had been so designated by the submitter. The head of each Executive department or agency shall, to the extent permitted by law, provide the submitter notice in accordance with section 1 of this Order whenever the department or agency determines that it may be required to disclose records:
(i) designated pursuant to this subsection; or
(ii) the disclosure of which the department or agency has reason to believe could reasonably be expected to cause substantial competitive harm.
Sec. 4. When notification is made pursuant to section 1, each agency's procedures shall, to the extent permitted by law, afford the submitter a reasonable period of time in which the submitter or its designee may object to the disclosure of any specified portion of the information and to state all grounds upon which disclosure is opposed.
Sec. 5. Each agency shall give careful consideration to all such specified grounds for nondisclosure prior to making an administrative determination of the issue. In all instances when the agency determines to disclose the requested records, its procedures shall provide that the agency give the submitter a written statement briefly explaining why the submitter's objections are not sustained. Such statement shall, to the extent permitted by law, be provided a reasonable number of days prior to a specified disclosure date.
Sec. 6. Whenever a FOIA requester brings suit seeking to compel disclosure of confidential commercial information, each agency's procedures shall require that the submitter be promptly notified.
Sec. 7. The designation and notification procedures required by this Order shall be established by regulations, after notice and public comment. If similar procedures or regulations already exist, they should be reviewed for conformity and revised where necessary. Existing procedures or regulations need not be modified if they are in compliance with this Order.
Sec. 8. The notice requirements of this Order need not be followed if:
(a) The agency determines that the information should not be disclosed;
(b) The information has been published or has been officially made available to the public;
(c) Disclosure of the information is required by law (other than 5 U.S.C. 552);
(d) The disclosure is required by an agency rule that (1) was adopted pursuant to notice and public comment, (2) specifies narrow classes of records submitted to the agency that are to be released under the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552), and (3) provides in exceptional circumstances for notice when the submitter provides written justification, at the time the information is submitted or a reasonable time thereafter, that disclosure of the information could reasonably be expected to cause substantial competitive harm;
(e) The information requested is not designated by the submitter as exempt from disclosure in accordance with agency regulations promulgated pursuant to section 7, when the submitter had an opportunity to do so at the time of submission of the information or a reasonable time thereafter, unless the agency has substantial reason to believe that disclosure of the information would result in competitive harm; or
(f) The designation made by the submitter in accordance with agency regulations promulgated pursuant to section 7 appears obviously frivolous; except that, in such case, the agency must provide the submitter with written notice of any final administrative disclosure determination within a reasonable number of days prior to the specified disclosure date.
Sec. 9. Whenever an agency notifies a submitter that it may be required to disclose information pursuant to section 1 of this Order, the agency shall also notify the requester that notice and an opportunity to comment are being provided the submitter. Whenever an agency notifies a submitter of a final decision pursuant to section 5 of this Order, the agency shall also notify the requester.
Sec. 10. This Order is intended only to improve the internal management of the Federal government, and is not intended to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law by a party against the United States, its agencies, its officers, or any person. Ronald Reagan.
Federal Register Act, see section 1502 et seq. of Title 44, Public Printing and Documents.
Section applicable to functions exercised under International Wheat Agreement Act of 1949, see section 1642 of Title 7, Agriculture.
SECTION REFERRED TO IN OTHER SECTIONS
This section is referred to in sections 551, 552a, 552b, 584, 586, 1216, 7133 of this title; title 2 sections 472, 501, 502; title 7 sections 509, 608d, 948, 958, 1314g, 1359hh, 1359ii, 1508, 1642, 5651, 5662, 5906; title 10 sections 128, 424, 1034, 1102, 2304, 2328; title 12 sections 1786, 1818; title 15 sections 18a, 57b-2, 78m, 78o-5, 78q, 78w, 78x, 78dd-1, 78dd-2, 278n, 719d, 773, 796, 1314, 1335a, 1418, 2029, 2032, 2055, 2217, 2613, 3364, 3710a, 4019, 4104, 4107, 4305, 4403, 4606, 4912, 5104, 5308; title 16 sections 973j, 1402, 4304; title 18 sections 207, 208; title 19 sections 1333, 1431, 1677f, 2418; title 20 sections 2422, 2836; title 21 sections 360d, 360j, 379, 830; title 22 sections 2200a, 3902, 4415, 4604, 4607, 4833; title 25 sections 450c, 450k, 1951, 2716; title 26 sections 6110, 7611; title 28 sections 594, 1657; title 30 section 1604; title 31 sections 716, 1352, 3729, 3733, 5319; title 33 sections 524, 941, 1513; title 35 sections 202, 209; title 38 sections 223, 4141; title 39 section 410; title 41 sections 253, 706; title 42 sections 242k, 300v-2, 300aa-25, 405, 1306, 1320c-9, 2167, 2168, 2996d, 4332, 5916, 5919, 6272-6274, 7135, 8103, 9122, 9208, 9660, 10704; title 44 sections 2201, 2204, 2206; title 45 section 546; title 46 sections 4309, 7702, 9303; title 46 App. sections 93, 1111c, 1705; title 49 sections 10310, 10706, 11164, 11346; title 49 App. sections 1357, 1805, 1806, 1905, 2511, 2608; title 50 section 431; title 50 App. sections 463, 2158, 2158a, 2159, 2170, 2406, 2411.