Making a FOIA Request
Please also see Tips for FOIA Requesters.
SECTION 271.5—Records Available to the Public on Request
(a) Types of records made available. All records of the Committee that are not available under sections 271.3 and 271.4 shall be made available upon request, pursuant to the procedures in this section and the exceptions in section 271.7.
(b) Procedures for requesting records.
(1) A request for identifiable records shall reasonably describe the records in a way that enables the Committee's staff to identify and produce the records with reasonable effort and without unduly burdening or significantly interfering with any of the Committee's operations. Information that assists staff in identifying responsive records includes the subject matter and date or time frame of the information requested.
(2) The request shall be submitted in writing to the secretary of the Committee:
(i) By completing the online request form located on the FOMC's FOIA internet site at www.federalreserve.gov/forms/FOMCForm.aspx;
(ii) By facsimile clearly marked "Freedom of Information Act Request" to (202) 452-2921; or
(iii) By letter clearly marked "Freedom of Information Act Request" to the Federal Open Market Committee Secretariat, 20th and C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20551;
(c) Contents of request. The request shall contain the following information:
(1) the name and address of the requester, and the telephone number at which the requester can be reached during normal business hours;
(2) whether the requested information is intended for commercial use, and whether the requester represents an educational or noncommercial scientific institution, or news media;
(3) a statement agreeing to pay the applicable fees, or a statement identifying any fee limitation desired, or a request for a waiver or reduction of fees that satisfies section 271.9(f).
(d) Defective requests. 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. 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.
SECTION 271.6—Processing Requests
(a) Receipt of requests. 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) Priority of responses. The Committee shall normally process requests in the order they are received. However, in the secretary's discretion, or upon a court order in a matter to which the Committee is a party, a particular request may be processed out of turn.
(c) Expedited processing. Where a person requesting expedited access to records has demonstrated a compelling need for the re-cords, or where the Committee has determined to expedite the response, the Committee shall process the request as soon as practicable.
(1) To demonstrate a compelling need for expedited processing, the requester shall provide a certified statement, a sample of which may be obtained from the Board's Freedom of Information Office. The statement, certified to be true and correct to the best of the requester's knowledge and belief, shall demonstrate that—
(i) the failure to obtain the records on an expedited basis could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual; or
(ii) the requester is a representative of the news media, as defined in section 271.2, and there is urgency to inform the public concerning actual or alleged Committee activity.
(2) In response to a request for expedited processing, the secretary of the Committee shall notify a requester of the determination within 10 working days of receipt of the request. In exceptional situations, the secretary of the Committee has the discretion to waive the formality of certification. If the secretary of the Committee denies a request for expedited processing, the requester may file an appeal pursuant to the procedures set forth in paragraph (i) of this section, and the Committee shall respond to the appeal within 10 working days after the appeal was received by the Committee.
(d) Time limits. The time for response to requests shall be 20 working days, except—
(1) in the case of expedited treatment under paragraph (c) of this section;
(2) where the running of such time is suspended for payment of fees pursuant to section 271.9(b)(2);
(3) in unusual circumstances, as defined in 5 USC 552(a)(6)(B). In such circumstances, the time limit may be extended for a period of time not to exceed—
(i) 10 working days as provided by written notice to the requester, setting forth the reasons for the extension and the date on which a determination is expected to be dispatched; or
(ii) such alternative time period as mutually agreed to by the secretary of the Committee and the requester when the secretary of the Committee notifies the requester that the request cannot be processed in the specified time limit.
(e) Response to request. In response to a request that satisfies section 271.5, an appropriate search shall be conducted of records of the Committee in existence on the date of receipt of the request, and a review made of any responsive information located. The secretary shall notify the requester of—
(1) the Committee's determination of the request;
(2) the reasons for the determination;
(3) the amount of information withheld;
(4) the right of the requester to appeal to the Committee any denial or partial denial, as specified in paragraph (h) of this section; and
(5) in the case of a denial of a request, the name and title or position of the person responsible for the denial.
(f) Referral to another agency. To the extent a request covers documents that were created by, obtained from, or classified by another agency, the Committee may refer the request to that agency for a response and inform the requester promptly of the referral.
(g) Providing responsive records.
(1) Copies of requested records shall be sent to the requester by regular U.S. mail to the address indicated in the request, unless the requester elects to take delivery of the documents at the Board's Freedom of Information Office or makes other acceptable arrangements, or the Committee deems it appropriate to send the documents by another means.
(2) The Committee shall provide a copy of the record in any form or format requested if the record is readily reproducible by the Committee in that form or format, but the Committee need not provide more than one copy of any record to a requester.
(h) Appeal of denial of request. Any person denied access to Committee records requested under section 271.5 may file a written appeal with the Committee, as follows:
(1) The appeal shall prominently display the phrase FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT APPEAL on the first page, and shall be addressed to the Secretary of the Committee, Federal Open Market Committee, 20th and C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20551; or sent by facsimile to the secretary of the Committee, (202) 452-2921.
(2) An initial request for records may not be combined in the same letter with an appeal.
(3) The Committee, or such member of the Committee as is delegated the authority, shall make a determination regarding any appeal within 20 working days of actual receipt of the appeal by the secretary, and the determination letter shall notify the appealing party of the right to seek judicial review of such denial.