Making a FOIA Request
Please also see Tips for FOIA Requesters.
§ 271.11—Records Available to the Public Upon Request.
(a) Procedures for requesting records.
(1) Requesters are encouraged to submit requests electronically using the online request form located at www.federalreserve.gov/secure/forms/FOMCForm.aspx. Alternatively, requests may be submitted in writing to the Secretary of the Committee, Federal Open Market Committee, 20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20551; or sent by facsimile to the Secretary of the Committee, (202) 452–2921. Clearly mark the request FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST.
(2) A request may not be combined with any other request or FOIA appeal.
(b) Contents of request. A request must include:
(1) The requester's name, address, daytime telephone number, and an email address if available.
(2) A description of the records that enables the Committee to identify and produce the records with reasonable effort and without unduly burdening or significantly interfering with any of the Committee's operations. Whenever possible, the request should include specific information about each record sought, such as the date, title or name, author, recipient, and subject matter of the record.
(3) A statement agreeing to pay the applicable fees. If the information requested is not intended for a commercial use (as defined in § 271.16(d)(1)) and the requester seeks a reduction or waiver of fees because he or she is either a representative of the news media, an educational institution, or a noncommercial scientific institution, the requester should include the information called for in § 271.16(g)(2).
(c) Perfected and defective requests.
(1) The Committee will consider the request to be perfected on the date the secretary of the Committee receives a request that contains all of the information required by paragraphs (b)(1) through (3) of this section.
(2) The Committee need not accept or process a request that does not reasonably describe the records requested or that does not otherwise comply with the requirements of this section.
(3) The Committee may return a defective request, specifying the deficiency. The requester may submit a corrected request, which will be treated as a new request.
§ 271.12—Processing Requests.
(a) Receipt of requests. Upon receipt of any request that satisfies the requirements set forth in § 271.11, the Committee shall assign the request to the appropriate processing schedule, pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section. The date of receipt for any request, including one that is addressed incorrectly or that is referred to the Committee by another agency or by a Federal Reserve Bank, is the date the secretary of the Committee actually receives the request.
(b) Multitrack processing.
(1) The Committee provides different levels of processing for categories of requests under this section.
(i) Requests for records that are readily identifiable by the Committee and that have already been cleared for public release or can easily be cleared for public release may qualify for simple processing.
(ii) All other requests shall be handled under normal processing procedures, unless expedited processing has been granted pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section.
(2) The Committee will make the determination whether a request qualifies for simple processing. A requester may contact the Committee to learn whether a particular request has been assigned to simple processing. If the request has not qualified for simple processing, the requester may limit the scope of the request in order to qualify for simple processing by contacting the Committee in writing, by letter or email, or by telephone.
(c) Expedited processing.
(1) A request for expedited processing may be made at any time. A request for expedited processing must be clearly labeled "Expedited Processing Requested." The Committee will process requests and appeals on an expedited basis whenever it is determined that they involve:
(i) Circumstances in which the lack of expedited processing could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual; or
(ii) An urgency to inform the public about an actual or alleged Federal Government activity, if made by a person who is primarily engaged in disseminating information.
(2) A requester who seeks expedited processing must submit a statement, certified to be true and correct, explaining in detail the basis for making the request for expedited processing. For example, under paragraph (c)(1)(ii) of this section, a requester who is not a full-time member of the news media must establish that the requester is a person whose primary professional activity or occupation is information dissemination, though it need not be the requester's sole occupation. Such a requester also must establish a particular urgency to inform the public about the Government activity involved in the request—one that extends beyond the public's right to know about Federal Government activity generally. The existence of numerous articles published on a given subject can be helpful in establishing the requirement that there be an "urgency to inform" the public on the topic. As a matter of administrative discretion, the Committee may waive the formal certification requirement.
(3) Within 10 calendar days of receipt of a request for expedited processing, the Committee will notify the requester of its decision on the request. A denial of expedited processing may be appealed to the Committee in accordance with § 271.14. The Committee will respond to the appeal within 10 working days of receipt of the appeal.
(d) Priority of responses. The Committee will normally process requests in the order they are received in the separate processing tracks, except when expedited processing is granted in which case the request will be processed as soon as practicable.
(e) Time limits. The time for response to requests shall be 20 working days from when a request is perfected. Exceptions to the 20-day time limit are only as follows:
(1) In the case of expedited treatment under paragraph (c) of this section, the Committee shall give the expedited request priority over non-expedited requests and shall process the expedited request as soon as practicable.
(2) Where the running of such time is suspended for a requester to address fee requirements pursuant to § 271.16(c)(1) or (2).
(3) In unusual circumstances, as defined in 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(6)(B), the Committee may:
(i) Extend the 20-day time limit for a period of time not to exceed 10 working days, where the Committee has provided written notice to the requester setting forth the reasons for the extension and the date on which a determination is expected to be dispatched; and
(ii) Extend the 20-day time limit for a period of more than 10 working days where the Committee has provided the requester with an opportunity to modify the scope of the FOIA request so that it can be processed within that time frame or with an opportunity to arrange an alternative time frame for processing the original request or a modified request, and has notified the requester that the Committee's FOIA Public Liaison is available to assist the requester for purposes of this paragraph (e)(3)(ii) and in the resolution of any disputes between the requester and the Committee, and of the requester's right to seek dispute resolution services from the Office of Government Information Services.
§ 271.13—Responses to Requests.
(a) When the Committee receives a perfected request, it will conduct a reasonable search of Committee records in its possession on the date the Committee's search begins and will review any responsive information it locates.
(b) If a request covers documents that were created by, obtained from, or classified by another agency, the Committee may refer the request for such documents to that agency for a response and inform the requester promptly of the referral. To the extent there is confidential supervisory information, as that term is defined by 12 CFR 261.2(b), contained within Committee records, disclosure of such information will be handled in consultation with the Board.
(c) In responding to a request, the Committee will withhold information under this section only if –
(1) The Committee reasonably foresees that disclosure would harm an interest protected by an exemption described in § 271.15(a); or
(2) Disclosure is prohibited by law.
(d) The Committee will take reasonable steps necessary to segregate and release nonexempt information.
(e) The Committee shall notify the requester of:
(1) The Committee's determination of the request;
(2) The reasons for the determination;
(3) An estimate of the amount of information withheld, if any. An estimate is not required if the amount of information is otherwise indicated by deletions marked on records that are disclosed in part or if providing an estimate would harm an interest protected by an applicable exemption;
(4) The right of the requester to seek assistance from the Committee's FOIA Public Liaison; and
(5) When an adverse determination is made, the Committee will advise the requester in writing of that determination and will further advise the requester of:
(i) The right of the requester to appeal any adverse determination within 90 calendar days after the date of the determination, as specified in § 271.14;
(ii) The right of the requester to seek dispute resolution services from the Committee's FOIA Public Liaison or from the Office of Government Information Services; and
(iii) The name and title or position of the person responsible for the adverse determination.
(f) Adverse determinations, or denials of requests, include decisions that the requested record is exempt, in whole or in part; the request does not reasonably describe the records sought; the information requested is not a record subject to the FOIA; the requested record does not exist, cannot be located, or has been destroyed; or the requested record is not readily reproducible in the form or format sought by the requester. Adverse determinations also include denials involving fees or fee waiver matters or denials of requests for expedited treatment.
(g) The Committee will normally send responsive, nonexempt documents to the requester by email but may use other means as arranged between the Committee and the requester or as determined by the Committee. The Committee will attempt to provide records in the format requested by the requester.