15 CFR 2004.3 - How do I make a request for records under the FOIA?

§ 2004.3 How do I make a request for records under the FOIA?

(a)General information -

(1)Where do I send my written request? To make a request for records, you should write directly to the FOIA Office. Heightened security delays mail delivery. To avoid mail delivery delays, we strongly suggest that you email your request to FOIA@ustr.eop.gov. Our mailing address is: FOIA Office, Office of the United States Trade Representative, Anacostia Naval Annex, Building 410/Door 123, 250 Murray Lane SW., Washington, DC 20509. To ensure that the FOIA Office receives your request without delay, you should include the notation “FOIA Request” in the subject line of your email or on the front of your envelope and also at the beginning of your request.

(2)Security concerns. To protect our computer systems, we will not open attachments to emailed requests - you must include your request within the body of the email. We will not process email attachments.

(3)Verifying your identity.

(i) If you are making a request for records about yourself or about another individual, you may receive greater access by verifying your identity if the records are about you, or the other individual's identity if the records are about them. To verify identity, you must provide an unsworn declaration under 28 U.S.C. 1746, a law that permits statements to be made under penalty of perjury. To fulfill this requirement, you must include the following statement just before the signature on your request letter:

“I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on [date].”

(ii) If the other individual is deceased, you should submit proof of death such as a copy of a death certificate or an obituary. As an exercise of administrative discretion, we may require that you provide additional information if necessary in order to verify that a particular individual has consented to disclosure.

(b)How do I describe the records I want? (1) You must describe the records you seek in sufficient detail to enable USTR personnel to locate them with a reasonable amount of effort. To satisfy this requirement, you should be as detailed as possible when describing the records you seek. To the extent possible, you should include specific information that may help us identify the requested records, such as the date, title or name, author, recipient, subject matter of the record, case number, file designation, or reference number. For example, we generally will ask you to clarify a request for all records related to a particular trade negotiation or agreement or a request for all communications between USTR and a particular third party. We suggest that you include a date limitation, particular topics, and if asking for correspondence, the subject matter and the relevant parties with contact information such as their email addresses.

(2) If a request does not provide sufficient specific descriptive information for the FOIA Office reasonably to ascertain exactly which records you are requesting and to locate them, our response may be delayed. Please note that in response to a FOIA request, we are not required to create records, conduct research for you, analyze data, answer written questions, or parse your narrative to try and determine the specific records you are seeking. You can contact the FOIA Office before you submit your request for assistance in describing the records you are seeking. If we determine that your request does not reasonably describe the records sought, we will explain why we cannot process your request and ask for additional information. For example, we might ask you to clarify your request if you ask for all documents in a certain date range but do not include a specific subject matter, topic or personnel. We can help you reformulate or modify your request.

(c)Form or format of responsive records. You can specify the preferred form or format (including electronic formats) for the records you seek. We will try to accommodate your request if the record is readily reproducible in that form or format.

(d)Contact information. You must provide contact information, such as your phone number, email address, and mailing address, so we will be able to communicate with you about your request and provide released records. If we cannot contact you, or you do not respond within thirty calendar days to our requests for clarification, we will close your request.