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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 statue that allows individuals to request access to federal agency records, except to the extent records are protected from disclosure by the Freedom of Information Act. Bill Hall is Acting Chief Freedom of Information Act Officer.

What We Do

The FOIA and 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 FOIA and Privacy Acts Division, the appropriate HHS FOIA Service Requester Center(s) (FRSC) are asked to search their records for materials associated with 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 FOIA and Privacy Acts Division for review

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.  Some fees are exempt. 

Finding Information

Information is available on HHS's Web site.  HHS Operating Divisions (OPDIVS) FOIA Service Requester Centers 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 FOIA Requester Service Center that maintains the appropriate records. This period does not begin until the request is actually received by the disclosure officer of the component that maintains the records sought.  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.