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Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

APHIS eFOIA Reading Room

The FOIA Electronic Reading Room contains documents specifically identified for inclusion by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as well as documents for which we have received multiple FOIA requests.

APHIS only maintains an electronic reading room. If you should need assistance using the APHIS electronic reading room or to check the status of your FOIA request, please contact the FOIA Office at 301-851-4102.

APHIS FOIA Contact Information

Tonya Woods, FOIA Director
Legislative and Public Affairs
Freedom of Information Act
4700 River Road, Unit 50
Riverdale, MD 20737

Phone: 301-851-4102
Fax: 301-734 -5941

The Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552)

The Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552) establishes a presumption that records in the possession of agencies and departments of the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government are available to the public. The FOIA sets standards for determining when Government records must be made available and which records may be withheld. The FOIA also gives requesters specific legal rights and provides administrative and judicial remedies when access to records or portions of records is denied. The FOIA statute requires that Federal agencies provide access to and disclosure of information pertaining to the Government's business to the fullest extent possible.

Under FOIA, certain records may be withheld in whole or in part from the requester if they fall within one of nine FOIA exemptions. Six of these exemptions most often form the basis for the withholding of information by APHIS:
  • Exemption 2: Protects certain records related solely to APHIS' internal rules and practices.
  • Exemption 3: Protects information that is prohibited from disclosure by other laws.
  • Exemption 4: Protects trade secrets and confidential commercial or financial information.
  • Exemption 5: Protects certain interagency and intra-agency communications.
  • Exemption 6: Protects information about individuals in personnel, medical, and similar files when disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy.
  • Exemption 7: Protects records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes when disclosure (A) could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings; (B) would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication; (C) could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy; (D) could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source; (E) would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law; or (F) could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of an individual.

The Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. § 552a

The Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. § 552a, establishes a code of fair information practices that governs the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of personally identifiable information about individuals that is maintained in systems of records by federal agencies. A system of records is a group of records under the control of an agency from which information is retrieved by the name of the individual or by some identifier assigned to the individual. The Privacy Act requires that agencies give the public notice of their systems of records by publication in the Federal Register. The Privacy Act prohibits the disclosure of information from a system of records absent the written consent of the subject individual, unless the disclosure is pursuant to one of twelve statutory exceptions. The Act also provides individuals with a means by which to seek access to and amendment of their records, and sets forth various agency record-keeping requirements.

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