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1. FOIA is the law and applies to
every employee at the Bureau.

2. Every employee is required to
conduct a records search and
produce responsive records to
the FOIA Office.

3. Remember that written
communications are subject to
FOIA and Privacy Act requests.

4. Label your records with the
appropriate privilege or sensitivity
(draft, deliberative, attorney/client).

5. Practice good Records
Management by organizing your
records and following your offices
file plan including disposition.

6. Ask questions about FOIA!
Understanding the basics of FOIA
will be beneficial to you as a
Federal employee and help the
Bureau achieve its FOIA goals.

In our democracy, the FOIA,
which encourages accountability
through transparency, is the most
prominent expression of a
profound national commitment to
ensuring an open Government.
President Barack Obama

Contact Information

Toll Free
(855) 444-FOIA (3642)


FOIA Manager
Martin Michalosky
(202) 435-7198

Wiki Page

Public Page

Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau

Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA)
Insiders Guide

What is the Freedom of Information Act

We are glad you asked! FOIA is a law that
was enacted by Congress in 1966 (5 U.S.C.
552). FOIA enables the public to request
documents from the Executive Branch of
the Federal Government, which includes the
Bureau. On President Obamas first full day
in office, he prioritized the awareness of the
laws requirement for transparency in
government by issuing a memorandum
directing government agencies to favor
proactive disclosure in order to renew their
commitment to the principles embodied in
FOIA, and to usher in a new era of Open

What are my responsibilities in the FOIA
process as a Bureau employee?

We like your proactive thinking! Every
employee has a duty to comply with the
FOIA and specific responsibilities. FOIA
applies to records created in the course of
your duties. The following are your

1. Directing FOIA and Privacy Act
requests to the FOIA Office.

2. Assisting the FOIA Office in
searching for and locating records
that may be responsive to requests.

3. Labeling your records with potential
privileges and/or sensitivities.

4. Preserving potentially responsive
records during the pendency of a
request, appeal, or litigation.

How do I search for records?

Great question! Your participation in the
search for responsive records may be as
simple as answering the questions in the
FOIA Questionnaire. Your responses will

1. Identify other employees that may
have been involved in the matter
being requested.

2. Pinpoint where the responsive
records are stored (e.g. email,
shared drives).

3. Provide keywords that may be used
to conduct a targeted search of your
email communications.

4. Label privileges or sensitivities
applicable to the responsive records.

NOTE: Consider using a CD, USB device,
or shared network drive to transfer
responsive records to the FOIA Office.
Email usually has a size limitation for
messages and is not the best method to
transfer responsive records.

Why do I need to respond so quickly?

Time is of the essence! All federal
agencies, including the Bureau, are required
to respond to FOIA requests within (20)
business days.

Your responses to the FOIA Questionnaire
and production of any responsive records to
the FOIA Office within (2) business days
represents 10% of the time allowed for the
Bureau to comply with the law. If the FOIA
Office fails to respond to a request within
this 20-day timeframe, the risk of litigation
increases more each day.

In the remaining (18) business days, the
FOIA Offices responsibilities for processing
requests include:

1. Collecting responsive records from
other employees within the Bureau.

2. Reviewing all responsive records
collected from Bureau employees.

3. Consulting with the Bureaus subject
matter experts to identify privileges
or sensitivities that may exempt
records from disclosure to the public.

4. Referring records containing
information from external sources to
other federal agencies and private
Why is Records Management important
to the FOIA process?
Outstanding question. Records are at the
heart of the FOIA process, there would be
no FOIA without records. The time you will
spend locating records response to a
request depends on how well your records
are organized. Good record keeping is
important to the Bureaus mission of
protecting consumers and holding the
Bureau accountable to the public. Contact
the Records Management Office at or visit their Wiki at
_Management_Office for more information.