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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 U.S. Department of Commerce should include the following: The request must be in writing and may be submitted by mail, e-mail, or fax and states that the request is being made under FOIA. 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, or fax. 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 request is being made under FOIA and ensure the envelope/subject line is marked "Freedom of Information Act Request".
  • Example of a FOIA 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

  • ESA follows the Department of Commerce Fee Schedule for FOIA requests.
  • Documents shall be furnished without charge, or at reduced charges if disclosure of the information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government, and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester. 15 CFR § 4.11 (k)

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 the statute, ESA is required to respond to a FOIA request within twenty business days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays. This time period does not begin until the request is actually received by the FOIA office that maintains the records sought. If we cannot send out the releasable documents by the last business day; we will send you a letter informing you of our decision and then send you the documents within a reasonable time afterward. Under the FOIA, ESA may extend the response time for an additional ten business days when: (1) we need to collect responsive records from field offices or bureaus; (2) the request involves a "voluminous" amount of records that must be located, compiled, and reviewed; or (3) we need to consult with another agency or operating unit that have a substantial interest in the responsive information. When such a time extension is needed, we will notify you and offer you the opportunity to modify or limit your request. Alternatively, you may agree to a different timetable for the processing of your request.


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 letter by the Assistant General Counsel for Administration (Office), Room 5898-C, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th and Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20230. Your appeal may also be sent by e-mail to 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.

The Department of Commerce's Assistant General Counsel will make a determination on your appeal within 20 business days.

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) 482-2889


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