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Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

NIAID FOIA Staff

Margaret Moore, Freedom of Information Office, Supervisor
Robin Schofield, Freedom of Information Act Coordinator

Contact Information

Address:
5601 Fishers Lane
Room 6G50, MSC 9807
Rockville, MD 20892-9807

Phone: 301-451-5109
Fax: 301-480-0904
Email: foia@niaid.nih.gov

Hours:
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time

We will do everything possible to comply with your request in a timely manner. It is the policy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to attempt to respond to FOIA requests on a first-come, first-served basis. We cannot provide an estimate as to how much time it will take to process your request.

Overview

The Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552 provides individuals with a right to access records in the possession of the federal government. The government may withhold information pursuant to the nine exemptions and three exclusions contained in the Act. The Electronic FOIA (E-FOIA) Amendments, which were signed into law in 1996, amended the Act in several ways, including:

  • Extending the time from 10 to 20 business days with which agencies have to respond to requests for information
  • Requiring agencies to make reasonable efforts to make records available in formats desired by requesters
  • Requiring agencies to submit the NIH FOIA Annual Report by fiscal year, and requiring the reports to be made available to the public by computer telecommunications or other electronic means
  • Requiring agencies to list their major information systems, record locator systems, and a reference guide or guide for obtaining information
  • Requiring agencies to establish electronic reading rooms that include agency policies, staff manuals, opinions made in the adjudication of cases, and an index of records released by FOIA that are likely to become the subject of subsequent FOIA requests

Guide for Submitting FOIA Requests

Before submitting a request under FOIA, please ensure that the information you are seeking is information that is or may be held by NIAID. Furthermore, the information should not already be in the public domain. NIAID already has a wealth of information available in both the published and electronic formats. A search of the NIAID site can assist you in locating information and lists of available publications.

Requesters interested in obtaining information on federally funded biomedical research projects should consult the Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT) database. This will enable you to identify whether the project is funded by NIAID and will provide the grant or project number.

The more specific the information you provide in your FOIA request, the quicker and easier it is for the NIAID FOIA office staff to readily process your request.

Recently, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued Circular A110 to provide access to data produced under grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health and other federal awarding agencies. To the extent you are interested in requesting data produced under an NIAID grant pursuant to OMB Revised Circular A110, please understand that it applies only to data

  • First produced under a new or competing continuing grant awarded after the Department of Health and Human Services amends 45 C.F.R. 74 to incorporate the changes mandated by the Revised Circular
  • Cited publicly and officially by the federal government in support of an agency action that has the force and effect of law

Additionally, if the data you request are already available to the public through an archive or other source, we will not process your request under FOIA.

If the information you are requesting is not in the public domain, please follow the suggestions listed below when preparing your FOIA request:

  • Identify the records requested (be as specific as possible, i.e., describe the subject matter of the records, and, if known, indicate the dates of the records, the places where they originated, and the names of the originating persons or offices)
  • State that the records are requested under the FOIA
  • Please express an amount that you are willing to pay for the requested documents
  • Include daytime telephone numbers in case additional information is needed before answering requests
  • Mail, fax, or email the request to the address above

It is important to note that FOIA allows agencies to recover part of the costs associated with responding to requests. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulations describe specific rules for fees, requesting a fee waiver, and reducing fees.

Links to Additional FOIA and Privacy Act Policy Information

Questions about NIH privacy policies should be sent to the NIH Privacy Act Officer.

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Last Updated June 11, 2014