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The Freedom of Information & Privacy Act Office:
What It Is, What It Does

A Message from the Chairman:

Providing access to information that investors need to make informed investment decisions is one of the SEC’s strategic goals. Each year, we receive thousands of requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) relating to almost every aspect of the Commission’s work.

I am committed to strengthening our FOIA program so that we respond to requests in a timely manner, treat all requesters equally, and provide as much information as possible without adversely affecting our mission. Success in this area will also support our other strategic goals of fostering and enforcing compliance with the Federal securities laws, and establishing an effective regulatory environment.

We realize that the public’s interest about our work is at an all-time high. I have directed SEC employees to seize this opportunity to illustrate the dedication and effort that they put forth every day on behalf of investors and the American public.

If you have any questions about the Commission’s FOIA program, please contact one of the FOIA Public Liaisons by clicking on the link below.

— Mary Schapiro

The SEC FOIA/PA Office is located at the following address:

Securities and Exchange Commission
Office of FOIA Services
100 F Street, NE
Washington, DC 20549-2736

Phone: 202-551-8300
Fax: 202-772-9336

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which can be found in Title 5 of the United States Code, section 552, was enacted in 1966 and provides that any person has the right to request access to federal agency records or information. All agencies of the United States government are required to disclose records upon receiving a written request for them, except for those records that are protected from disclosure by the nine exemptions and three exclusions of the FOIA. This right of access is enforceable in court.

The Privacy Act of 1974, which can be found in Title 5 of the United States Code, section 552a, establishes safeguards for the protection of records the Government collects and maintains on United States citizens and lawfully admitted permanent residents.

Records You Can Obtain

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) maintains public and non-public records. Public records, such as registration statements and reports filed by regulated companies and individuals, SEC decisions and releases, staff manuals, no-action and interpretive letters, and public comments on proposed rules, are available through the Public Reference facilities located at SEC Headquarters (Conventional and Electronic Reading Rooms). Most public filings since 1995, SEC releases since September 1995, and other public records are also at the SEC web site You need not send a FOIA request to obtain public records.

A FOIA request is required to obtain non-public records, such as records compiled in investigations, consumer complaints, and staff comment letters. We will release non-public records, unless the record is protected by one of nine FOIA exemptions. If we can reasonably segregate or delete exempt information from a requested record, we will release to you the rest of the record. In addition to FOIA exemptions, there are three special protection provisions, referred to as record "exclusions."  The FOIA exclusions are reserved for certain specified circumstances. 

For additional information, click on the appropriate document:

  From the President: Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on the Freedom of Information Act
From the Attorney General: Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on the Freedom of Information Act
FOIA Action Plan Under Executive Order 13392
* October 2009 Memorandum re: Chief FOIA Officer
* October 2008 FOIA Reading Room Certification
* August 2008 Update to FOIA Action Plan Under Executive Order 13392

FOIA Backlog Reduction Estimates
FOIA Public Liaisons
How to Make a FOIA or Privacy Act Request
Conventional and Electronic Reading Rooms
Major Information Systems
Frequently Requested FOIA Documents

   * Schedule of Fees for
* Records Services

* (see also 17 CFR 200.80(e))

   * SEC FOIA Regulations
* (17 CFR 200.80;
* 17 CFR 200.83)

   * SEC Privacy Act Regulations
* (17 CFR 200.301 –
* 17 CFR 200.312)

   * SEC Confidential Treatment
* Procedure Under Rule 83

Modified: 10/02/2012