Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

REQUESTING RECORDS FROM THE COMMISSION

Types of Documents Available from the Commission

The Commission on Civil Rights is an agency that does investigations and reports on civil rights related issues. Copy of these reports can be downloaded from this website, or requested by email as provided in the publications section of this website. The Commission does not decide individual cases of discrimination. However, the Commission does refer discrimination complainants to the appropriate agency through its Complaint Referral Service http://www.usccr.gov/filing/flndx.htm To find out information about which agency handles a specific case or type of discrimination you should identify the specific agency with the aid of our publication Getting Uncle Sam to Enforce Your Civil Rights http://www.usccr.gov/filing/flndx.htm. Should you wish to contact the agency, a list of the FOIA officers of other agencies is included can be located at http://www.usdoj.gov/04foia/foiacontacts.htm. If you wish to find out information about contracting opportunities or Commission publications, you should examine the contact information section of this Web site.

FOIA and Privacy Act

FOIA Overview

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. Section 552, is a statute that provides a process by which every person may request access to federal agency records or information. Federal agencies, such as the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, are required to disclose records upon receiving a written request for them unless those records are protected from disclosure by any of the nine exemptions and three exclusions of the FOIA. The FOIA applies only to federal agencies and the records in their custody. The FOIA does not create an access to records held by Congress, the courts or by state and local governments. Any requests for state or local government records should be directed to the appropriate state or local government agency.

Privacy Act Overview

The Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. Section 552a, establishes certain controls over what personal information is collected by the federal government and how it is used. The act guarantees three primary rights: (1) the right to see records about oneself, subject to the Privacy Act's exemptions; (2) the right to amend that record if it is inaccurate, irrelevant, untimely or incomplete; and (3) the right to sue the government for violations of the statute, including permitting others to see your records, unless specifically permitted by the act.

Executive Order 13,392, Improving Agency Disclosure of Information

On December 14, 2005, the President issued Executive Order 13,392, Agency Disclosure of Information. In the order, the President directed agency FOIA operations to be citizen-centered and results-oriented. The executive order requires each agency to:

1. designate a Chief FOIA Officer,
2. establish a FOIA Service Center to enable a FOIA requester to seek information
    concerning the status of their request,
3. designate a FOIA Public Liaison, and
4. conduct a review of agency’s FOIA operations and draft a plan
    for improvement for FY 2006 and FY 2007.

Filing a FOIA Request

For information concerning how to file a FOIA request or to mail, fax or email a request you should contact:

FOIA Officer
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
1331 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Suite 1150
Washington, DC 20425
Phone: (202) 376-8351
Fax: (202) 376-1163
E-mail: foia@usccr.gov

Appeals

You may file an administrative appeal of a FOIA request negative determination. All appeals must be in writing, sent by certified mail and received within 90 days of the date of the decision. It should include a copy of the written denial, and may include a statement of the circumstances, reasons or arguments advance in support of disclosure. You should send your appeal to:

Staff Director
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
1331 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Suite 1150
Washington, DC 20425
Phone: (202) 376-7700
Fax: (202) 376-7672
E-mail: foia@usccr.gov

For Information about Your FOIA Request Contact:

FOIA Requester Service Center
Phone: (202) 376-8351
Fax: (202) 376-1163
E-mail: foia@usccr.gov

FOIA Public Liaison
Phone: (202) 376-8591  
Fax: (202) 376-7672
E-mail: lostrowsky@usccr.gov

Filing a FACA Request

To request information concerning activities of the Commission State Advisory Committees you should make a request pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

Section 10(b) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), as amended, (Public Law 92-463, 5 U.S.C. App.) provides that the records, reports, transcripts, minutes, appendixes, working papers, drafts, studies, agenda, or other documents which were made available to or prepared for or by each advisory committee shall be available for public inspection and copying at a single location in the offices of the advisory committee or the agency to which the advisory committee reports until the advisory committee ceases to exist. Records covered by the exemptions set forth in section 552(b) of FOIA may generally be withheld. However, it should be noted that FOIA Exemption 5 cannot be used to withhold documents reflecting an advisory committee's internal deliberations.

To obtain the records of the Commission State Advisory Committees contact the Commission Regional Offices. The web address is http://www.usccr.gov/regofc/rondx.htm.

FOIA Reading Room Certification

   Updated: June 14, 2013