DATE: March 1, 2000

SUBJECT: The Freedom of Information Act

  1. PURPOSE. This Directive provides policy and assigns responsibilities for carrying out the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as amended. This Directive also authorizes the issuance of Treasury Department Publication (TD P) 25-05, "Freedom of Information Act Handbook".
  2. SCOPE. This Directive applies to all bureaus, offices and organizations in the Department of the Treasury, including the Office of the Inspector General and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
  3. POLICY. It is the policy of the Department of the Treasury to implement the FOIA uniformly and consistently and to provide maximum allowable disclosure of agency records upon request by any individual. Records shall be disclosed unless they are appropriate for withholding and are protected by one or more of the FOIA exemptions or exclusions. Requests shall be processed within the time limits defined by the FOIA. Individuals requesting information will be informed of the right and procedure to seek administrative appeal and to seek judicial review of:
    1. any partial or total denial of access to records;
    2. a fee waiver denial;
    3. a determination of requester's category for fee purposes;
    4. a no-records determination; or,
    5. a denial of a request for expedited processing.
    The FOIA requires that, except in "unusual circumstances" as specified in the Act, agency initial decisions on whether to grant or deny access to records must be made within 20 working days of receiving the request and the requester so notified. A requester may administratively appeal an agency's adverse initial determination and may seek judicial review if not satisfied with the agency's final decision. If a court determines that agency personnel have acted arbitrarily or capriciously in withholding records, disciplinary action against the employee primarily responsible may be warranted. Department of the Treasury disclosure regulations are published at 31 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 1.
    1. Assistant Secretaries, Equivalent Level Officials in Departmental Offices (DO), and Heads of Bureaus shall:
      1. (1) establish internal procedures to ensure the effectiveness of the Department's FOIA program. The procedures shall be consistent with this directive and:
        1. (a) the FOIA, as amended:
        2. (b) Treasury disclosure regulations (31 CFR Part 1);
        3. (c) Treasury's "FOIA Handbook";
        4. (d) Executive Order (E.O.) 12600;
        5. (e) E.O. 12958; and,
        6. (f) applicable Department of Justice, Office of Management and Budget, and National Archives and Records Administration guidelines.
      2. (2) ensure that employees who are responsible in any part for FOIA processing are knowledgeable about the provisions and requirements of the FOIA and ensure that these employees attend FOIA training at least once a year;
      3. (3) ensure that accurate and complete data is submitted in a timely manner to the Departmental Disclosure Officer for the Department of the Treasury's Annual FOIA Report to the Attorney General, and for other reporting purposes, as required;
      4. (4) ensure that records that are subject to section (a)(2) of the FOIA which have been created on or after November 1, 1996, are posted to the bureau web site;
      5. (5) submit proposed bureau disclosure regulations or proposed changes to regulations to the Departmental Disclosure Officer for review and concurrence prior to the review and concurrence required by Treasury Directive (TD) 28-01;
      6. (6) select a FOIA Contact and advise the Departmental Disclosure Officer of the selection and of any subsequent changes in designation of selection;
      7. (7) ensure that bureau FOIA Contacts and web masters collaborate with bureau records management officers prior to disposing of records posted on the FOIA web sites and to schedule electronic records on the sites; and,
      8. (8) ensure that reasonable efforts are made to maintain records in forms or formats that are reproducible for purposes of the FOIA.
    2. The Deputy Assistant Secretary (Information Systems) and Chief Information Officer shall:
      1. (1) provide technical management support for the Department's FOIA web site on the Treasury Internet and technical assistance to the Departmental Disclosure Officer to ensure compliance with the requirements of the FOIA;
      2. (2) provide technical assistance to bureaus in placing records in the electronic reading room which includes establishing specific procedures for maintaining and posting bureau records;
      3. (3) establish and maintain an index of all major information systems and a description of major information and record locator systems in the Department via Treasury's Government Information Locator Service (GILS) and provide a link to the electronic reading room;
      4. (4) ensure that Treasury-wide, cost-effective, state-of-the-art technical solutions for electronic redaction are implemented to achieve economies of scale and integrate with the information technology infrastructure; and,
      5. (5) provide information technology guidance to bureau FOIA Contacts, web masters, and records management officers regarding information posted on the Treasury FOIA web sites.
    3. The Departmental Disclosure Officer shall:
      1. (1) act as the Department of the Treasury's principal point of contact and agency representative on FOIA-related matters;
      2. (2) coordinate the Department's FOIA implementation and management in collaboration with Treasury bureaus;
      3. (3) provide regulatory and policy guidance, and technical advice and assistance to the Department on FOIA-related matters;
      4. (4) review proposed changes to bureau disclosure regulations;
      5. (5) collect, review, consolidate, and submit the data for the Annual FOIA Report to the Attorney General on behalf of the Department;
      6. (6) post Departmental Offices (DO) records to the Treasury web site that are subject to section (a)(2) of the FOIA which have been created on or after November 1, 1996;
      7. (7) grant or deny requests for expedited processing of requests for DO records;
      8. (8) supervise the implementation of the FOIA within the DO;
      9. (9) notify a requester when information needed to process a request for DO records is lacking;
      10. (10) assign FOIA requests to the appropriate FOIA Contact for action;
      11. (11) assign FOIA appeals to the appropriate appeal authority within DO;
      12. (12) follow up with the assigned office to ensure completion of a request or appeal, when necessary;
      13. (13) when a request seeks records in the custody of two or more functions within DO for which separate FOIA Contacts have been designated, assign to one of the FOIA Contacts the responsibility of coordinating one response;
      14. (14) assist the general public in making FOIA requests to the Department; and,
      15. (15) conduct FOIA training on a regular basis and oversee the FOIA training conducted at Treasury bureaus.
    4. Responsible Officials shall:
      1. (1) determine:
        1. (a) whether to grant or deny requests for access to records;
        2. (b) whether to grant or deny requests for fee waivers; and,
        3. (c) a requester's category for fee purposes;
      2. (2) notify the requester of determination(s) made pursuant to paragraph 4.d.(1);
      3. (3) determine costs incurred by the Department to process the request and whether or not fees will be charged to the requester;
      4. (4) ensure that requests are processed in accordance with the Department's disclosure regulations at 31 CFR Part 1;
      5. (5) compile and provide data for the Annual FOIA Report; and,
      6. (6) retrieve records retired to the Federal Records Center if they are needed in processing a request.
    5. Appeal Authorities shall, upon receipt of an administrative appeal, either affirm or reverse those initial determinations that:
      1. (1) deny access to a record or portion thereof;
      2. (2) deny a request for a fee waiver;
      3. (3) pertain to a requester's category;
      4. (4) advise of no records located; or,
      5. (5) deny a request for expedited processing.
    6. FOIA Contacts shall:
      1. (1) designate a responsible official to respond to each FOIA request assigned pursuant to paragraph 4.c.(10);
      2. (2) ensure consistency and completeness of a Departmental response when assigned responsibility for coordination pursuant to paragraph 4.c.(13);
      3. (3) determine, with appropriate program officials, which records in response to FOIA requests have become or are likely to become the subject of repeated requests for the same records and ensure that these records are placed in the electronic reading room of the bureau's web site; and,
      4. (4) coordinate with the bureau web masters and records management officers regarding the disposing of records in the electronic reading room of the bureau's web site.
  5. DEFINITIONS [see also 31 CFR Part 1].
    1. Bureaus. The entities of the Department of the Treasury that are authorized to act independently in disclosure matters.
    2. Category. The classification assigned to a requester for fee purposes determined by the projected use of the records. The categories are: (a) commercial; (b) educational; (c) non-commercial scientific institutions; (d) representative of the news media; and (e) all other requesters.
    3. Department. The Department of the Treasury, including DO and all of the Treasury bureaus.
    4. FOIA Contact. For DO, FOIA Contact refers to an employee selected by an Under Secretary, an Assistant Secretary, the Executive Secretary, the General Counsel, the Inspector General, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration or the Treasurer to receive FOIA requests assigned to their area by the Departmental Disclosure Officer and to provide assistance in administrative matters pertaining to FOIA request processing. For other bureaus, FOIA Contact refers to the head of each disclosure office.
    5. Responsible Official. The head of the organizational unit having immediate custody of the records requested or a designated official. The responsible official makes initial determinations to grant or deny requests for access to records and requests for fee waivers. The responsible official will also determine a requester's category for fee purposes.
    1. The Freedom of Information Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. 552).
    2. 31 CFR Part 1, Subpart A, Freedom of Information Act.
    3. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Pub. L. No. 104-13.
    1. Department of Justice Fee Waiver Policy Guidance, dated April 2, 1987.
    2. E.O. 12600, "Predisclosure Notification Procedures for Confidential Commercial Information", dated June 23, 1987.
    3. E.O. 12958, "National Security Information."
    4. Freedom of Information Reform Act of 1986; Uniform Freedom of Information Act Fee Schedule and Guidelines; 52 Federal Register 10012, dated March 27, 1987.
    5. TD 28-01, "Preparation and Review of Regulations."
    6. President's Memorandum For Heads of Departments and Agencies, dated October 4, 1993, subject: The Freedom of Information Act.
    7. Attorney General's Memorandum for Heads of Departments and Agencies, dated October 4, 1993, subject: The Freedom of Information Act.
  8. RATIFICATION. To the extent that any action heretofore taken consistent with this Directive may require ratification, it is hereby approved and ratified.
  9. CANCELLATION. TD 25-05, "The Freedom of Information Act", dated January 18, 1996, is superseded.
  10. OFFICE OF PRIMARY INTEREST. Disclosure Services, Information Services Division, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary (Administration), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Management and Chief Financial Officer.


Lisa Ross
Acting Assistant Secretary for Management
and Chief Financial Officer