FOIA Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make a FOIA request to USITC?

Requests under FOIA for Commission records should be addressed to the:

Chief FOIA Officer
United States International Trade Commission
500 E Street SW
Washington, DC 20436

Both the request letter and the envelope it is sent in should identify the request as a "Freedom of Information Act Request." The request should describe the records sought to the best of the requester's ability, and should indicate whether the requester is willing to pay fees for copying and/or search time, or is seeking a fee waiver.

What is the expected response time for a request?

The Commission by law has 20 working days to locate the records that are responsive to the request and to decide whether to release those records. The Commission may take an additional 10 days when the request involves records located in a field facility or a voluminous quantity of records, or when the Commission needs to consult with another agency that has a substantial interest in the request. A requester should expect to receive a response by mail, generally with copies of released records, within two or three working days after the close of the initial 20 day period.

Except in the case of requests that quality for expedited processing, requests are processed in the order in which they are received.

Can I request expedited processing for my FOIA request?

A requester who seeks expedited processing must submit a statement, certified to be true and correct, explaining in detail the basis for requesting expedited processing. Decisions to grant, or not grant, expedited handling will be made within 10 calendar days of receipt of a request for expedited processing.

Will there be any fees towards processing my request?

The Commission's fees for searching for and copying records are set forth in section 201.20 of its Rules of Practice and Procedure (19 CFR 201.20). There is no charge for copying and search time if the total fee would be $25 or less (however, related requests from the same person are aggregated for purposes of fee calculations). For fee calculation purposes, there are three categories of requesters and their charges would generally be as follows--

  1. Educational and non-commercial scientific institutions and the news media. No charge for search or review time; no charge for copying if the total charge is $25 or less; and if there is a charge for copying (generally at $.10 per page), the first 100 pages are free.
  2. Commercial requesters. No charge for copying, search, and/or review time if the total fee would be $25 or less. Otherwise, the copying charge is generally $.10 per page, and search and review fees are based on the GS (salary) level of the Commission employee performing the search or review.
  3. Non-commercial requesters (other than category #1 requesters). No charge for review time, and no charge for copying and/or search time if the total fee would be $25 or less. Otherwise, copying and search charges are the same as for commercial requesters, except that no fee is charged for the first 100 pages of copying and the first 2 hours of search time, or their cost equivalent.

For each quarter hour spent by agency personnel in salary grades GS-2 through GS-10 in searching for and retrieving a requested record, the fee is $4.00. When the time of agency personnel in salary grades GS-11 and above is required, the fee is $6.50 for each quarter hour of search and retrieval time spent by such personnel.

What are the FOIA Exemptions?

All agency records must be made available to the public under the FOIA, except for records that are:

  1. Properly classified as secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy (b)(1).
  2. Related solely to internal personnel rules and practices (b)(2).
  3. Specifically exempted by other statutes (b)(3).
  4. Concerning trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person that is privileged or confidential (b)(4).
  5. Privileged interagency or intra-agency memoranda or letters, except under certain circumstances (b)(5).
  6. Personnel and medical files and similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy (b)(6).
  7. Investigatory records compiled for law enforcement purposes (b)(7).
  8. Contained in or related to certain examination, operating, or condition reports concerning financial institutions (b)(8).
  9. Geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells (b)(9).
If I am not satisfied with the response from USITC, do I have a right of appeal?

If the Secretary denies a request in whole or in part, or if a response is not forthcoming within 20 working days of the filing of the request (and no extension notice has been given), the requester may file an appeal with the full Commission. A finding of "no records" may also be considered a denial and may be appealed. An appeal from a denial of a request must be received within 60 days of the date of the letter of denial.

Appeals must be addressed to the:

Chairman, United States International Trade Commission
500 E Street SW
Washington, DC 20436

Clearly indicate both on the envelope and in the letter that it is a "Freedom of Information Act Appeal".

The Commission has 20 working days to decide an appeal. The person filing the appeal may seek judicial review of the Commission's decision.

This statement is intended only as a summary of Commission FOIA practices and procedures. For further information, please consult Subpart C of Part 201 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (19 CFR Part 201, Subpart C). You may want to refer to the statute itself at 5 USC 552.