The NIH FOIA Staff welcomes you to the NIH FOIA Home Page. We hope you
will find this site informative and that it will give you a better understanding
of NIH's public information programs. We will continue to improve this
site to bring you current program information.
NIH FOIA Staff
Susan R. Cornell, Freedom of Information Officer, NIH
Brenda J. Butler, FOIA Specialist, NIH
Connie A. Caldwell, FOIA Specialist, NIH
Catherine M. Papoi, FOIA Specialist, NIH
The NIH FOIA office handles three different categories of requests:
While all requests may be sent to the NIH FOIA Office, each of NIH's
separate Institutes and Centers has its own FOIA Coordinator. Requesters
should direct requests for information about a specific NIH component to
that component. A list of the FOIA Coordinators
for each component is available at this site for your convenience.
- requests for information maintained by the Office of the Director,
- requests that will involve responses from more than one NIH Institute
- requests for information that will not be released because it is protected
by one or more of the FOIA's nine exemptions or three exclusions
The Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C.
552, provides individuals with a right to access to records in the
possession of the federal government. The government may withhold information
pursuant to the nine exemptions and three exclusions contained in the
Electronic FOIA ("E-FOIA") Amendments which President Clinton signed
into law in 1996, amended the law in several ways, including:
Guide for Submitting FOIA
- extend from 10 to 20 business days (excluding holidays) the time agencies
must respond to requests for information;
- require agencies to make reasonable efforts to make records available
in formats desired by requesters;
- require agencies to submit the NIH
FOIA Annual Report by fiscal year;
- require agencies to make the reports available to the public by computer
telecommunications or other electronic means;
- require agencies to list their major information
systems, record locator systems, and a reference
guide or guide for obtaining information; and
- require 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.
- these amendments have to be implemented
by specific dates.
Before submitting FOIA requests, individuals should ensure that the information
they seek is not already in the public domain. Each of NIH's components
has information available in both published format and electronically. A
search of the NIH Home Page can assist requesters in locating information
and lists of available publications. Such a search can also help requesters
identify the component(s) most likely to have responsive documents so FOIA
requests can be sent to the appropriate component for response. A list of
the NIH Institutes and Centers is available at this
site to assist you. A list of the FOIA Coordinators
for each component also is available at this site for your convenience.
FOIA requesters interested in obtaining information on federally funded
biomedical research projects should consult the Computer
Retrieval of Information on Scientific Projects (CRISP) database. This
will enable requesters to identify the grant number and the component funding
the research in their FOIA request.
In 1999 the Office of Management and Budget issued final revisions to Circular
A110 to provide for 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 a National Institutes
of Health grant pursuant to the provisions of Office of Management and Budget
(OMB) Revised Circular A110, please understand that the provisions of Revised
Circular A110 apply to data:
In addition, if the data you request are already available to the public
through an archive or other source, we will not process your request under
the FOIA. In that situation, we will refer you to the archive or other source.
More information regarding NIH implementation of Revised Circular A110 may
be found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/a110/a110_guidance_dec1999.htm.
With all FOIA requests, if the information you are interested in is not
in the public domain, please follow the suggestions listed below when preparing
your FOIA request:
- first produced under a new or competing continuing grant awarded after
the Department of Health and Human Services amended 45 C.F.R. 74 to
incorporate the changes mandated by the Revised Circular (April 17,
- cited publicly and officially by the Federal Government in support
of an agency action that has the force and effect of law.
- 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 Freedom of Information
- include daytime telephone numbers in case additional information is
needed before answering requests; and
- forward all requests either to the appropriate FOIA Coordinator
or to the NIH FOIA Office by one of the methods listed below:
- if you are requesting data produced under an NIH grant, include the
following information in your request:
- the federal regulation or administrative order that cited the
data being requested;
- the publication and/or reference cited in the federal regulation;
- the grant number under which the data were produced (this information
can be obtained from the CRISP
- a description of the data sought; and
- a statement that the data are being requested under OMB Revised
- Mail the request (mark the outside of the envelope, "FOIA Request")
either to the appropriate FOIA Coordinator or to the NIH FOIA
Freedom of Information Office, NIH
Building 31, Room 5B35
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20892
- OR Fax the request to the FOIA Office at (301) 402-4541.
If the requester knows which component has responsive documents, the
FOIA request should be sent directly to the FOIA Coordinator for
that component. A list of the FOIA Coordinators
for NIH components and their addresses is included at this site.
Individuals with questions concerning their requests may call the NIH
FOIA Staff at (301) 496-5633.
Guide for Submitting FOIA
FOIA requesters may appeal the denial of information within 30 days of
receipt of letters from the agency. Appeals should state the following
- the reasons why the requested information should be released under
the Act; and
- why the denial may be in error.
FOIA requesters should attach copies of their original requests and response
letters to all appeals, clearly mark the letters and the outside envelopes,
"FOIA Appeal, " and mail appeals to the following address:
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (Media)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Parklawn Building, Room 17A-46
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20857
The Freedom of Information Act provides for the
agency to recover part of the cost associated with responding to a request.
The Department Regulations set out the specific
rules for fees and for requesting a fee waiver or a reduction in fees. Some
general principles apply to all requests such as:
- if you are going to request a fee waiver or a reduction in fees, you
must do so when you file your initial request for documents.
- you may be charged for search time even if we do not locate any documents
responsive to your request or if the documents we locate are denied
to you under one of the FOIA's exemptions.
- there will not be a charge if the cost of responding to your request
is less than $25.
If a determination is made that fees will be charged, the following fee
schedule will be used to calculate the exact cost of search and review
- if the work is performed by an agency employee Grade 1-8, you will
be charged $4.50 for each 15 minutes worked.
- if the work is performed by an agency employee Grade 9-14, you will
be charged $9 for each 15 minutes worked.
- if the work is performed by an agency employee Grade 15 or above,
you will be charged $16 for each 15 minutes worked.
In addition, if you are requesting data produced under a NIH grant under
the provisions of OMB Revised Circular A110, you will be charged a reasonable
fee equaling the full incremental cost of obtaining the data. This fee
will reflect the costs incurred by NIH, the grantee institution and the
grantee investigator. These fees will be in addition to any fees assessed
by NIH under the FOIA.
The Freedom of Information Act provides that the
agency will provide access to identifiable documents within our possession
unless one of nine exemptions or three exclusions applies. The exact language
of the exemptions can be found in the Freedom of Information
Act. Additional guidance on the exemptions and how they apply to certain
documents can be found in the Department
Regulations implementing the FOIA.
NIH Reading Rooms
On-Site Reading Room
The NIH On-Site Reading Room (RR) contains a variety of documents
that come from several of the Institutes
and Centers at the NIH. The documents are indexed with an identifying
number to assist users in locating the document(s) of interest. The
Index of Documents is available at this site for your convenience.
Documents cited with an asterisk (*) are available for viewing in the
RR, which is located in Building 31, Room 5B-35. The hours of operation
are 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m, Monday through Friday (closed on Federal holidays).
A copy machine is available for users to duplicate documents of particular
interest. Documents without an asterisk are presently stored off-site
and can be retrieved for viewing upon specific request. Please contact
the FOI Office to make arrangements to view one or more of these documents.
Electronic Reading Room
In addition, the following documents are available in electronic format
at this site:
An NIH Search Engine is available at http://search.google.cit.nih.gov/.
Description of Publicly Available
The NIH has a wealth of information available to the public both in printed
form and electronically. Each of NIH's separate Institutes and Centers
maintains it's own list of publications and this information can be accessed
from their Home Pages. A list of the components is
available. If you do not know which component has information of the subject
you are interested in, you may run a search
from the NIH Home Page.
Other Public Information
Major Information Systems
This database of more than 12 million references to articles published
in 4600 biomedical journals is maintained by the National Library
of Medicine and may be accessed free of charge on the World Wide Web.
Two Web-based products, PubMed and the NLM Gateway provide this access.
This is a searchable database of federally funded biomedical research
projects conducted at universities, hospitals, and other research
institutions. The database is maintained by the Office of Extramural
Research at the National Institutes of Health.
This is a comprehensive database of article titles and abstracts.
Gateway: The NLM Gateway allows users to search in
multiple retrieval systems at the U.S. National Library of Medicine
NIH's major information and record locator systems are identified under
Interactive Locator System (GILS)
Policies and Administrative
Manuals that Affect the Public