Where and How to Submit a Privacy Act Request

Under the Privacy Act (PA), a person may seek access to records that are retrieved by his/her own name or other personal identifier, such as social security number or employee identification number. Such records will be made available unless they fall within the exemptions of the PA or the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Your request must be in writing. Indicate that you are making a request under the PA. Address the request to the following address:

Center for Civil Rights Enforcement
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250-9410
VIA FACSIMILE: (202) 720-0953
VIA E-MAIL: ascrfoia@usda.gov

NOTE: While e-mail attachments are often an important and legitimate means of conducting business, they also have the potential to cause great harm to our e-mail infrastructure, as well as to individual workstations. Please place the text of your PA request into the 'body' of the email message.

Identify Records Requested:

Clearly state what records you are seeking, including subject matter, relevant names, locations, and dates. Be both as specific and as concise as possible. Be sure to date your request and provide your mailing address. Your phone number is optional, but including it can speed the processing of your request if the FOIA Specialist needs to contact you for clarification of your request.

Written Consent:

The FOIA Officer may require you to submit a signed and notarized statement indicating that you are the individual to whom the records pertain, and that you understand it is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $5,000 to knowingly and willfully seek or obtain records about another individual under false pretenses. If the PA records are to be disclosed to any person other than the individual to whom it pertains, written permission of the individual to whom the record pertains is required.

Sample Consent Statement:

"I declare under penalty of perjury that I am [list your full name] and that the statements contained in this document are true and correct. Executed on: [date] [signature]."

Include How Much You Are Willing to Pay:

Indicate in your PA request the amount that you are willing to pay without prior notification by CR. Under the PA, you can only be charged the cost of copying records, not for time spent locating them. The Department of Agriculture charges $.20 per page for duplication.

Access to Records

Under certain circumstances you may be entitled to receive more information under the Privacy Act of 1974 (a separate federal statute) than under the FOIA. Under the FOIA, generally anyone can request access to any agency record. Privacy Act requests are more limited and can be made only by U.S. citizens or aliens lawfully admitted for permanent U.S. residence, who are seeking information about themselves, which is in a system of records maintained under their names or other personal identifiers.

Detailed information concerning USDA policies and procedures for obtaining access to information under the FOIA and the PA is available in 7 CFR Part 1, Subpart A, or by calling the USDA FOIA Officer at (202) 720-8164.