Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. § 552) generally provides any person with the statutory right, enforceable in court, to obtain access to federal agency records. Under the FOIA, you may request any FHFA-OIG record. The FOIA is a disclosure statute, except to the extent that such records (or portions of them) are protected from disclosure by one or more exemptions. However, the FOIA does not require an agency to perform research for you, analyze data, answer questions, or create records in order to respond to a request.

FHFA-OIG is an independent oversight organization within the Federal Housing Finance Agency. We respond to FOIA requests that are exclusively FHFA-OIG-related, such as OIG audits, evaluations, reviews, and investigations relating to FHFA programs and operations. If your FOIA request does not apply to these OIG subjects, please refer to FHFA’s FOIA website (https://www.fhfa.gov/AboutUs/FOIAPrivacy/Pages/FOIA.aspx) or the appropriate federal agency for further information. You can view the list of all agencies with FOIA contacts for each agency at https://www.foia.gov/.

FOIA requests often implicate the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. § 552a). Pursuant to the Privacy Act, U.S. citizens or aliens lawfully admitted for permanent U.S. residence can seek records containing information about themselves that is maintained in one of FHFA-OIG’s systems of records, retrievable by their names or other personal identifiers. For this reason, a FOIA request may require that we comply with the Privacy Act. Even if a FOIA request does not mention the Privacy Act, FHFA-OIG automatically treats requests seeking records pertaining to individuals as being made under both the FOIA and the Privacy Act.

FHFA-OIG FOIA Library (Electronic Reading Room)

Visit the FHFA-OIG FOIA Electronic Reading Room and FHFA's FOIA Electronic Reading Room for frequently requested records available for public inspection in electronic form. FHFA and FHFA-OIG have separate websites. A search of both websites will enable you to confirm, before making a request, that the information you are requesting has not already been posted.

How to Make a FOIA/Privacy Act Request

FHFA-OIG looks forward to working with FOIA requesters to respond effectively and efficiently to FOIA requests. FOIA/Privacy Act requests should be submitted in writing, either electronically, by fax, or by regular mail (see “Submitting Your Request,” below, for contact information). All mail sent to FHFA-OIG via the United States Postal Service is routed through a national irradiation facility, a process that may delay delivery. FHFA-OIG will not accept telephone requests.

Include the following information in your FOIA/Privacy Act request:

  • Your full name and address (street, city, state, and zip code).
  • Today's date.
  • Your telephone number during normal business hours.
  • Your email address, if you have one.
  • A statement that your request is under the FOIA.
  • A description of the records requested. Please provide as much information as you have; for example, audit report number, inspection/case number, investigation report number, program area, etc. Whenever possible, include specific information about each record sought, such as the date, report number, title or name, author, recipient, and subject matter of the record.
  • A certification of identity. If you seek records about yourself or a third party, you or the subject of the request must provide a certification of identity. This requirement protects your privacy and ensures that your information is not disclosed to anyone without your consent. There are two ways to do this. You may have your signature notarized, meaning that your FOIA/Privacy Act request must bear your original signature and the original signature and seal of a notary. In lieu of notarization, you may add the following “under penalty of perjury” statement, followed by your signature: “I declare, certify, verify or state, under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America, that the foregoing is true and correct and that I am the person named above.”
  • Your agreement to pay fees. You must state that you are aware of applicable fees charged under 12. C.F.R. § 1202.11 (see FOIA Reference Guide) and state an amount you are willing to pay without consultation. If processing fees are less than $25.00, no fees will be charged. FHFA-OIG will notify a requester of any fees above $25.00. You may also request that OIG waive fees if certain statutory standards are met. We ordinarily do not charge fees to individuals for copies of records related to themselves.

Submitting Your Request. The contact information for submitting FOIA/Privacy Act requests is as follows:

Email: FOIA@fhfaoig.gov
Fax:   (202) 318-8602
Mail:   FHFA-OIG FOIA Requester Service Center
            ATTN: Sheila Peden, FOIA Officer
           400 7th Street SW
           Washington, DC 20219

FHFA-OIG has established a dual-track response system for processing FOIA/Privacy Act requests that is based on size and complexity. A FOIA/Privacy Act request will be placed in one of two tracks:

  • The Standard Track is for simple requests that do not involve voluminous records or lengthy consultations with other government agencies. Standard track requests are generally processed in 20 to 30 working days.
  • The Complex Track is for requests that involve voluminous records or records requiring lengthy or numerous consultations with outside agencies or entities. Complex Track requests may require significantly more time for processing.

Other FOIA Resources. A FOIA Reference Guide and FHFA’s FOIA Regulations are also available to assist FOIA/Privacy Act requesters:

You can contact FHFA-OIG’s FOIA Requester Service Center with questions about our process, status updates about your request, or general questions about FOIA. Email FOIA@fhfaoig.gov or call (202) 730-0399.

Administration of FHFA-OIG’s FOIA Program

If you are interested in our agency’s accountability in administering the FOIA, follow these links to FHFA/FHFA-OIG’s Annual FOIA Reports and Chief FOIA Officer Reports. See 5 U.S.C. §§ 552 (e)(3), (j)(2)(D). In addition, the Department of Justice provides a single point of access to both these reports for all agencies on its FOIA website. The data from Annual FOIA Reports is also uploaded onto FOIA.gov where it can be easily viewed and compared with other agencies.

Other helpful information regarding the FOIA process can be found at the U.S. Department of Justice's FOIA Reference Guide Web page, https://www.justice.gov/oip/usdoj-oip-freedom-information-act-guide-may-2004.

 

To report potential fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, or any other kind of criminal or noncriminal misconduct relative to FHFA’s programs or operations, call the FHFA-OIG Hotline, email, or write us.

Hotline: 1-800-793-7724
Email:   www.fhfaoig.gov/ReportFraud
Write:   FHFA Office of Inspector General
                ATTN: Office of Investigations - Hotline
               400 7th Street SW
                Washington, DC 20219

 

Last reviewed/updated December 2020