The FOIA Guide is a short and simple explanation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and how the public can use it to access government records. The FDIC FOIA Guide explains how to submit a FOIA request to the FDIC. The FOIA Guide also provides links to helpful reference guides and explains how you can obtain additional information from the FDIC.
Learn About the FDIC
The FDIC is an independent agency of the United States government. It was established by Congress in 1933 to insure bank deposits, help maintain sound conditions in the banking system, and protect the nation's money supply in case of financial institution failure. In 1989, the FDIC was given the additional duty of insuring deposits in savings associations. Virtually all United States banks and savings associations are now insured by the FDIC. The basic amount of deposit insurance for a depositor in an insured bank or savings association is $250,000. For additional information on FDIC Deposit Insurance, see the FDIC Publication Your Insured Deposits
FDIC Consumer Publications
The FDIC publishes a number of pamphlets and consumer guides on a variety of issues. You may find it helpful to begin your research by reading a FDIC publication on the particular issue of interest to you. Many publications are available on-line, and all other publications are available through the Consumer Protection Web page. For example, the Consumer Protection Web site contains several publications explaining uninsured investment products, fair lending laws, and mortgage loan pre-qualifications. In addition, the FDIC financial institution and branch office data available through the Institution Directory page provides information on FDIC financial institutions and contains additional links to financial information concerning such institutions.
FDIC Internal Operations
Examination manuals are available for purchase, and some of the more recent manuals may be reviewed on-line. Examination manuals discuss, in depth, the examination process and describe the policies followed by FDIC employees when examining a bank's trust operations; when reviewing a bank's compliance with consumer regulations; or when weighing a bank's overall safety and soundness. Directives governing and clarifying internal policies and procedures regarding a limited, specific issue, are also available on-line. Click here to view the FDIC's Regulations & Examination section of our agency web site. A copy of the FDIC's current FOIA annual report is available on-line or by contacting Legal Division, FOIA/PA Group, 550 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20429 (FAX: 703-562-2797).
FDIC on the World Wide Web
A wealth of public information is available at your fingertips through the FDIC's World Wide Web site. You can review the information on-line or download it for future use. Popular pages include Asset Sales (buying from the FDIC), Doing Business with the FDIC (selling to the FDIC) and Institution Directory (Bank Data). If you wish to view recent regulatory changes proposed by the FDIC, click here to view the FDIC's Laws, Regulations, Related Acts. Click FDIC Federal Register Comments to instantly access all public comments on current FDIC regulatory proposals. Most of the information available on the FDIC's World Wide Web Page is word-searchable. If you are unable to find the information or records you seek, try entering a key word or phrase to find possible sites. Click here to use the FDIC's Search engine.
FDIC Public Information Center
The FDIC maintains a public reading room, known as the "Public Information Center" (PIC) at 3501 North Fairfax Drive, Room E-1002, Arlington, VA 22226. The PIC is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET on business days and is managed by the FDIC's Division of Administration. The PIC oversees extensive materials concerning the FDIC and the former Resolution Trust Corporation, such as Press Releases and Speeches, Testimony & Articles offered by the FDIC. Many of these publications are available on-line and all other publications are available through the FDIC's Public Information Center. In addition, the PIC can help you obtain copies of Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) evaluations, obtain the schedule of institutions to be examined for CRA, and help you learn about Doing Business with the FDIC.
Freedom of Information Act
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal statute. FOIA generally provides that any person has a right, enforceable in court, of access to federal agency records, except to the extent the records are protected from disclosure by any of the nine exemptions contained in the law or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions. The FOIA was amended by the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996 (E-FOIA). Among other things, E-FOIA grants the public access to certain government documents via computer telecommunications. The provisions of the FOIA, as amended by E-FOIA, can be found at 5 U.S.C. 552. FDIC regulations implementing FOIA can be found at 12 C.F.R. 309.5. In response to the requirements of the FOIA, Executive Order 13392, and to enhance the availability of FDIC records to the public, the FDIC has established the FOIA Service Center on the FDIC's World Wide Web page. In addition, the FDIC supplemented and reconfigured its World Wide Web page so that records required by E-FOIA to be made affirmatively available via computer telecommunications can be quickly located. If you have not been able to find the records you seek on the FDIC's World Wide Web page, you may wish to file a FOIA request.
The following information will help you understand how the FOIA can be used to obtain records that are not otherwise publicly available.
Step 1. Understanding the FOIA.
Would you like to learn more about the Freedom of Information Act and the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996? Click here to be linked through the FDIC's Electronic FOIA Office to the Department of Justice FOIA Home Page. This site provides the text of both the FOIA and the E-FOIA amendments.
Step 2. FDIC Regulations.
Would you like to read the FDIC's current FOIA regulation? Click here to be linked to the FDIC's FOIA regulation
Step 3. Unavailable Records.
Would you like to find out if the records you seek are available under the FOIA? Click here to be linked to a description of the nine categories of records that are exempt from disclosure under the FOIA. If the records you seek are in the FDIC's possession or control but fall within one of these categories, they may be withheld in full or in part. For example, bank examination reports and related examiner work papers are exempt from disclosure under the FOIA.
Step 4. Costs.
Would you like to know how much it may cost you to initiate a search for records under FOIA? Click here to be linked to a description of the fees the FDIC is authorized to charge when responding to FOIA requests.
Step 5. Making a Request.
Would you like to file a FOIA request? You can file FOIA requests electronically. Click here to be linked to the FDIC's Electronic Request Form. If you prefer, you may file a request by writing to the FDIC, Legal Division, FOIA/PA Group, 550 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20429 or by sending your request through our FAX number at 703-562-2797. All FOIA requests must be in writing. FDIC regulations require that you state at the time you make your request the maximum amount of fees you are willing to pay.
Step 6. Appeals.
Would you like to know more about your appeal rights should your FOIA request be denied? Click here to learn about the administrative appeal process available to you if the records you seek under the FOIA are not made available to you.
Step 7. Comments.
Would you like to comment on the FDIC's FOIA program? Send your suggestions or comments to the FDIC, Legal Division, FOIA/PA Group, 550 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20429 (FAX: 703-562-2797).
Step 8. Problems.
If you are having problems with a pending FOIA request, please contact the FDIC Ombudsman / FOIA Public Liaison, 550 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20429 (FAX: 703-562-6057) or you may call the Ombudsman / FOIA Public Liaison at (703) 562-6040.
In addition, the FDIC's Records Disposition Schedule contains a comprehensive subject matter index which lists various record filing systems.
To receive a copy of the FDIC's Records Disposition Schedule, contact the Legal Division, FOIA/PA Group, 550 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20429 (FAX: 703-562-2797).
Information may be requested from the FDIC under the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. 552a. Privacy Act requests for information in the FDIC's files must be in writing, and sent to the same address as FOIA requests. The Privacy Act permits a person to seek access to agency records pertaining to him or herself, provided the record is maintained within a "system of records" - i.e., the record is retrieved by that individual requester's name or personal identifier. [See FDIC Systems of Record.] Several exemptions apply, however. To learn more, see the FDIC's Privacy Act regulations published in 12 C.F.R. Part 310