Like all federal agencies, HRSA is required under the
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to disclose records
requested in writing by any person unless the records
(or a part of the records) are protected from disclosure
by any of the nine exemptions contained in the law.
The Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments
of 1996 (e-FOIA) required HRSA to establish a publicly
accessible Electronic Reading Room. HRSA also maintains
an actual FOIA Public Reading Room, open from 8 a.m.
to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday at the HRSA Freedom
of Information Office in Rockville, MD.
How to Submit a HRSA FOIA Request
Before submitting a FOIA request, you should ensure
that the information you seek is not already in the
Obtaining Public Information
Public information documents, such as press releases,
consumer publications, speeches, and congressional testimony,
are available from HRSA without a FOIA request. Many
of these documents are available on this Web site. We
encourage you to search the site for documents of interest.
You may also search the Government
Information Locator Service (GILS).
Obtaining Information Through FOIA
Any individual may submit a FOIA request to HRSA by
mail, fax, e-mail or in person. The request must be
in writing. Telephone requests cannot be processed.
Address your fax, e-mail, or written request to:
Health Resources and Services Administration
Office of Communications
FOIA Requester Service Center
5600 Fishers Lane, Rm. 14-18
Rockville, Maryland 20857
In your request, identify the record(s) that you want.
If you do not know the exact title, describe the record
as specifically as possible. The more details that you
can provide, such as author, title, date, subject matter,
and location, the better. A vague or incomplete description
could delay our response or prevent us from finding
the records you want. We may ask you to clarify your
request if necessary.
FOIA staff will log your request, assign a tracking
number to it and send you a letter acknowledging receipt
of your request. This number is important to you because
it will enable us to check the status of your request.
FOIA authorizes us to assess the following three levels
of fees: search fees, review fees and photocopying fees.
The fees that we assess for a given request, however,
are based upon the category of FOIA requester.
For fee purposes, the FOIA requires that requesters
be placed in one of the following three categories:
- commercial use requesters;
- educational and scientific institutions and news
- all others.
In line with FOIA, we charge commercial use requesters
the costs of search, review and duplication associated
with processing requests. We charge scientific, educational
and news media requesters the cost of duplication only
(the first 100 pages are free of charge). We charge
all other requesters the costs of search and duplication
(the first two hours of search and the first 100 pages
of duplication are free of charge). You will be billed
only if the total processing charges are $25 or more.
We assume that you are willing to pay the fees we charge
for processing your request. In your letter of request,
you may specify the fee category in which you believe
your request falls. You also may state the maximum amount
of fees that you are willing to pay.
The FOIA permits agencies to waive fees if disclosure
of the record(s) is in the public interest because it:
(a) is likely to contribute significantly to public
understanding of the operations or activities of the
government and (b) is not primarily in the commercial
interest of the requester.
If you believe that your request meets both of these
tests, you may request a waiver or reduction of fees
when you make your FOIA request. Be sure to fully document
and justify your waiver request.
How We Process Your Request
We try to handle your request within 20 working days
from the date we receive it. Sometimes it may take longer
depending on the kind of record(s) you request and the
number of requests ahead of yours. FOIA requests are
processed on a first in, first out basis. The guidelines
we follow in processing your FOIA request are detailed
in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Public Information Regulations.
We provide expedited processing when disclosure of the
records is necessary because of a compelling need. This
is the case when the requester: (1) demonstrates an
imminent threat to life or physical safety; and (2)
is a member of the media and demonstrates urgency to
inform the public concerning actual or alleged government
activity. We also will expedite your request if you
show that the requested records are needed to meet a
deadline in litigation or a deadline imposed by a governmental
agency for commenting on a proposed regulation. If you
would like your request expedited, please explain your
reasons in your FOIA request.
Denials and Appeals
If a record is determined to be exempt from release
under the FOIA, in whole or in part, we will provide
written notification to you of this decision. We will
explain our reason(s) for withholding the record/information
and describe how you may file an appeal. Any administrative
appeal decision that upholds a denial will inform you
of the basis for the denial and of your right to judicial
review in Federal courts.