The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which is found in 5 U.S.C 552,
is a law that gives a person the right to obtain Federal agency records unless
the records (or parts of the records) are protected from disclosure by any of
the nine exemptions contained in the law. The FOIA was recently amended by the
Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996 ("E-FOIA Amendments").
Regulations that set forth procedures for requesting OMB records
under the FOIA are published at 5 CFR Part 1303. The CFR can be found in all
law libraries and Federal depositary libraries. You may also obtain a copy from
OMB at the address listed below or at OMB's home page (see below). These
regulations have been amended to incorporate changes adopted by the E-FOIA
OMB makes available in its Public Reading Room and in the
Regulatory/Paperwork Docket Library information pertaining to matters issued,
adopted, or promulgated by OMB; these are commonly known as "reading room
materials." These materials include the Federal Budget, OMB Circulars, selected
OMB Bulletins, regulations and information collections reviewed by OMB, other
policies and management documents, and OMB's Annual FOIA Report. Many of these
documents are also available through the Publications Office and OMB's Internet
Home Page (see below).
In addition to gaining access to reading room materials, requesters
may also file FOIA requests with OMB to obtain records. It is important to
understand that there is no central office in the government which processes
FOIA requests for all agencies; each Federal agency responds to FOIA requests
for records in its own files. Thus, the public may submit FOIA requests to OMB
to obtain records that are in OMB's files. Please be aware the FOIA does not
require agencies to do research, to analyze data, to answer written questions,
or to create records in order to respond to a request.
Individuals wishing to file a FOIA request must address their request
in writing to the FOIA Officer, Office of Management and Budget, 725 17th
Street NW, Room 6025, Washington, DC 20503, phone (202) 395-5715. Requests for
information should be as specific as possible. Requesters should consult OMB's
FOIA regulations, which outline the procedures governing the FOIA request
process; a brief summary of that process follows.
Upon receipt of a FOIA request, the FOIA Officer will determine
within 20 days (excepting Saturdays, Sundays and legal public holidays) after
the receipt of such request whether it is appropriate to grant the request.
(The time period for providing a response may be extended under the FOIA; in
addition, in certain circumstances, requesters may receive an "expedited"
response.) OMB will provide a written response to the FOIA request; if the
request is denied in whole or in part, OMB will notify the requester of the
denial, and of the requester's right to file an appeal within OMB (the appeal
should be sent to the address above). If OMB denies an appeal in whole or in
part, the requester may seek judicial review of that denial.
Fees for FOIA Requests.
Agencies may charge fees for responding to FOIA requests. The FOIA
divides requesters into four categories for fees:
Commercial use requesters. When OMB receives a request for
documents for commercial use, it will assess charges that recover the full
direct cost of searching for, reviewing for release, and duplicating the
Educational and non-commercial scientific institution
requests. OMB shall provide documents to requesters in this category for
the cost of reproduction alone, excluding charges for the first 100 pages.
Representatives of the news media. OMB shall provide
documents to requesters in this category for the cost of reproduction alone,
excluding charges for the first 100 pages.
All other requesters. OMB shall charge requesters who do
not fit into any of the categories above fees that recover the full reasonable
direct cost of searching for and reproducing records that are responsive to the
request, except that the first 100 pages of reproduction and the first two
hours of search time shall be furnished without charge.
OMB may waive fees, in whole or in part, 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."
In certain circumstances, OMB may request advance payment of fees.
Information may also be requested from OMB under the Privacy Act, 5
U.S.C. 552a. Privacy Act requests for information in OMB's files must be in
writing, and sent to the same address as FOIA requests (above). Compared to
some other agencies, OMB has relatively few records that are subject to the
Privacy Act, and historically has received only a small number of Privacy Act
requests. OMB's Privacy Act regulations are published at 5 CFR Part 1302.
You may access the OMB home page at http:/www.whitehouse.gov/OMB. The
home page contains information on OMB's mission, a description of OMB's
organization structure, current recruiting information, and employment
opportunities. The section under FOIA contains OMB's
FOIA regulations, this handbook, OMB's FOIA Annual Reports for
1998 and 1999, and a
link to OMB's Government Information Locator System
is an index of OMB's major information systems and record locator systems.
In addition, the home page provides access to the latest copy of the
President's Federal Budget, as well as other OMB documents. Electronic versions
of OMB documents are intended to provide broad public access to the text of OMB
directives and other key information. Documents available over the Internet
include the following:
OMB Circulars. These are instructions or information
issued by OMB to Federal agencies that is expected to have a continuing effect
of two years or more. The Circulars are presented by numerical sequence as well
as by major category.
Selected OMB Bulletins. These bulletins provide guidance
to Federal agencies of a more transitory nature that would normally expire
after one or two years.
Selected OMB Memoranda. A memorandum to heads of executive
departments and establishments is used to announce new policy or to remind
agencies of existing policies.
Regulations and Paperwork under OMB review. This report is
updated daily and lists regulation reviews and paperwork reviews currently
pending at OMB or that were completed in the last 30 days. These regulation and
paperwork reviews are done under the Executive Order 12866, "Regulatory
Planning and Review" and the "Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995" (44 U.S.C. 3502
Financial Management policies and Grants Management circulars
and related documents.
Federal Register submissions are copies of proposed and
final rules OMB has submitted to the Federal Register.
Statements of Administration Policy on Non-Appropriations and
A public reading area is located in the Executive Office of the
President Library, Room G-102, New Executive Office Building, 725 17th Street
NW, Washington, DC 20503, phone (202) 395-5715.
OMB also maintains the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs
(OIRA) Docket Library, Room 10102, New Executive Office Building, 725 17th
Street NW, Washington, DC 20503, phone (202) 395-6880. The Docket Library
contains records related to information collections sponsored by the Federal
government and reviewed by OIRA under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. The
Docket Library also maintains records related to proposed Federal agency
regulatory actions reviewed by OIRA under Executive Order 12866, "Regulatory
Planning and Review." Telephone logs and materials from meetings with the
public attended by the OIRA Administrator are also available in the Docket
Persons desiring to visit the public reading area or OIRA Docket
Library must write or telephone ahead to make an appointment. Security in the
New Executive Office Building prevents visitors from entering the building
without an appointment.