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FOIA (Freedom of Information Act)

HHS Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts Division

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal statute that allows individuals to request access to federal agency records, except to the extent records are claimed as exempt from disclosure under one or more of the nine (9) exemptions of the Freedom of Information Act. The Department's Chief FOIA Officer is Acting Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Dori Salcido.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a critical component of HHS' Open Government efforts. More information is available on the Department's Open Government Site.

What We Do

The Freedom of Information (FOI)/Privacy Acts Division handles FOIA and Privacy Act issues and requests. We respect the right of the public to access information in the possession of the Department, but also protect privileged information.

When a request is received by the FOI/Privacy Acts Division, the appropriate HHS FOIA Service Requester Center(s) (FRSC) are asked to search their records for materials covered by the request.

When requested records are found in the Office of the Secretary, or in more than one HHS FOIA Requester Service Center, the documents are typically forwarded to HHS FOI/Privacy Acts Division for review and response.

Fees For FOIA Services

Departmental FOIA Regulations allow us to recover part of the costs associated with the processing of FOIA requests.  Unless you state a specific fee limit in your request, we will assume that you are willing to pay all the fees incurred in the processing of your request and will not contact you concerning the FOIA fees.

Finding Information

Information is available on HHS's Web site. The various HHS FOIA Requester Service Centers' (FRSC) Web sites have electronic reading rooms with frequently requested FOIA information. 

Under the statute, federal agencies are required to respond to a FOIA request within twenty business days from when the request is received by the FRSC that maintains the records. Therefore, FOIA requests should be forwarded to the office that maintains the records in which you have an interest.  Some  HHS FOIA Requester Service Centers receive thousands of requests each year. Many of these requests require a line-by-line review of hundreds or even thousands of pages of documents. HHS makes every effort to respond to FOIA requests as quickly and thoroughly as possible.