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Freedom of Information Act

As President Obama declared on January 21, 2009, “A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency.”  The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) encourages accountability through transparency.

The FOIA generally provides any person the right to request access to federal agency records or information. All agencies of the U.S. Government are required to disclose records upon receiving a written (or electronic) request, except those records that are protected from disclosure pursuant to nine exemptions and three exclusions.

The FOIA applies only to agencies of the Executive Branch -- including cabinet departments (like the Department of Commerce). The FOIA does not create a right of access to records held by Congress, the courts, or by state or local government agencies.

Make a FOIA Request

Anyone can make a FOIA request and we’ve done our best to make the process as easy as possible. For more information on how to make a specific FOIA request, click the button below:


FOIA Annual Report

Each year the Commerce Department documents how quickly it responded to FOIA requests, how much each response cost tax payers and other interesting information concerning requests for information under the FOIA in its Annual FOIA Report. Typically, these reports are released each January for the previous fiscal year.

You can see some of our most recent Annual FOIA Reports in the Commerce’s FOIA Electronic Library.