The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [PDF 135K], enacted on July 4, 1966, is an integral part of creating an open and transparent government. Congress passed the OPEN Government Act of 2007, which addressed several procedural issues that concern FOIA administration, and the OPEN FOIA Act of 2009, which revised the requirements of FOIA Exemption 3.
You can read more about OPEN Government and the Census Bureau's Open Government Plan at the following links.
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Privacy Act requests that involve Census Bureau records are handled through the Policy Coordination Office's FOIA Office. FOIA Office staff are responsible for reviewing, coordinating, and responding to requests, for Census Bureau records, made under the FOIA and Privacy Act.
The FOIA provides individuals with a statutory right of access to certain federal agency records. The FOIA requires agencies to disclose requested records unless they are protected from public disclosure by the FOIA. Congress included in the FOIA nine exemptions and three law enforcement exclusions to protect important interests such as national security, personal privacy, privileged communications, and law enforcement. The FOIA does not apply to records held by Congress, Federal Courts, state and local governments, private businesses, schools, private organizations, or private individuals.
A FOIA request is a request submitted to a federal agency asking for access to agency records on any topic. A FOIA request can generally be made by any person, to any federal agency, and only requires that requesters reasonably describe the records they are seeking and comply with agency regulations for making such requests.
A Privacy Act request allows individuals to gain access to their own personal records (unless the requested records are exempted from disclosure), and to seek correction or amendment of federally maintained records that are inaccurate, incomplete, untimely. Privacy Act requests made to the Census Bureau allows individuals to gain access to records about yourself, and are filed and can be retrieved by your name or personal identifier (Ex. Social Security number).