U.S. Department of Commerce

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Office

Why is certain information withheld in a FOIA request?

It is the policy of the Census Bureau to make records available to the public to the greatest extent possible, in keeping with the spirit of the FOIA, while at the same time protecting sensitive information that may be withheld under one of the FOIA's exemptions. The FOIA exempts certain types of records from disclosure pursuant to nine specified exemptions, and it is sometimes necessary to apply one or more of these exemptions when responding to a request. For example, exemption b(3) exempts from disclosure under FOIA records that are protected by statute. When the Census Bureau collects information from individuals or businesses during its censuses or surveys, the Census Bureau is required by law to maintain the confidentiality of the records. Therefore, any request for such information that is required by law to be kept confidential would be denied, citing exemption b(3). For a discussion of all nine FOIA exemptions, please visit the Commerce Department's website.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Office of Analysis and Executive Support (Policy Office) | 1-301-763-6440 | Last Revised: April 24, 2013