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Requesting Records Under the Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 5 U.S.C. § 552 was enacted in 1966 to provide people a means to access Federal agency records. Unless the record is covered by one of the nine exemptions or three law enforcement exclusions, a FOIA request can be made for any agency record. You should be aware that the FOIA does not require agencies to do research for you, to analyze data, or to create records in response to a request.  A FOIA request to the Economics and Statistics Administration should include the following: The request must be in writing and may be submitted by mail, e-mail, fax, or through FOIAonline and state that the request is being made under FOIA. If sending through the mail, please ensure the envelope is marked "Freedom of Information Request". If you are making your request by e-mail, please include a mailing address and your daytime telephone number should we need to contact you for additional information.

How to File a FOIA Request

  • A FOIA request to the Economics and Statistics Administration must be in writing. The request may be submitted by mail, e-mail, fax, or through FOIAonline. If you are making your request by e-mail, please send to
  • The request must include a mailing address and your daytime telephone number should we need to contact you for additional information.
  • Please state that the requests is being made under FOIA and ensure the envelope/subject line is marked "Freedom of Information Act Request".
  • If you are unsure which Department of Commerce Component is responsible for the records you seek, you may submit a FOIA request to the Department of Commerce FOIA Officer.

Fees and Fee Waivers

Exclusions and Exemptions

Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), you may make a written request for any records held by the Economics and Statistics Administration.

We are required to provide records requested in writing by any person or organization, unless the records are excluded from consideration under the FOIA or are protected by one of nine FOIA exemptions and not available to the public.

Response Time

Under FOIA, you have a right to a response within twenty business days excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays. The period begins on the day the request is actually received by the FOIA office which maintains the records requested. ESA makes every effort to meet this time frame, however, under certain circumstances; this period may be extended up to 30 business days. Agencies are allowed an additional ten business days when: (1) they need to collect responsive records from field offices; (2) the request involves a "voluminous" amount of records which must be located, compiled, and reviewed; or (3) if an agency must consult with another agency which has a substantial interest in the responsive document. When an extension is needed, the requester may be notified and offered the opportunity to modify or limit their request.

The court has sanctioned a practice of generally handling backlogged FOIA requests on a "first-in, first out" basis. The electronic FOIA amendments authorizes agencies to promulgate regulations providing for "multitrack processing" of their FOIA requests. The Department of Commerce has a decentralized FOIA system, and each Bureau/Administration may use two or more processing tracks to distinguish between simple and more complex requests. This will be based on the number of pages involved, some other measure of the amount of work and/or time needed to process the request, and whether the request qualifies for expedited processing as described below.

Expedited Processing

You may be entitled to an expedited response of less than 20 days. A FOIA request may receive "expedited" treatment in cases where there is a threat to someone's life or physical safety; the requestor is primarily engaged in disseminating information and has established that the request is urgently needed to inform the public concerning some actual or alleged government activity; or where an individual will suffer the loss of substantial due process rights if the records are not processed on an expedited basis.


You have the right to appeal a denial or partial denial of the FOIA request.  An appeal must be received within 30 calendar days of the date of the response by the Assistant General Counsel for Litigation, Employment, and Oversight, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th and Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20230.  Your appeal may also be sent by e-mail or by facsimile (fax) to 202-482-2552.  The appeal must include a copy of the original request, the response to the request and a statement of the reason why withheld records should be made available and why denial of the records was in error. The submission (including e-mail and fax submissions) is not complete without the required attachments. The appeal letter, the envelope, the e-mail subject line, and the fax cover sheet should be clearly marked "Freedom of Information Act Appeal." The e-mail, fax machine, and Office are monitored only on working days during normal business hours (8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday). FOIA appeals posted to the e-mail box, fax machine or Office after normal business hours will be deemed received on the next normal business day.

FOIA Reading Room

For Further Information Please contact:

Pamela Moulder
Economics and Statistics Administration
Room 4836
Washington, D.C. 20230

Phone number: (202) 482-5997
FAX number: (202) 482-0325


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