Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a Federal statute that allows any person the right to obtain Federal agency records, unless the records (or part of the records) are protected from disclosure by any of the nine exemptions contained in the law. The Electronic FOIA Amendments (E-FOIA) signed into law in 1996 added a requirement that agencies establish electronic reading rooms.  E-FOIA makes it possible for individuals to have electronic access to certain USDA information without making a formal FOIA request. Under E-FOIA, records available to the public online must include agency policy manuals, opinions made in the adjudication of cases, and an index of records released by previous FOIA that are likely to become the subject of subsequent FOIA requests. Information may be located by performing a word search, Browse by Audience, or Browse by Subject at the column located on the left side of this page. There is additional information which is available by subject located on the right side of this page.

How to make a FOIA/Privacy Act Request

In accordance with the FOIA statute and USDA regulations (Title 7 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1, Subpart A), any person may request access to Rural Development (RD) records. The Privacy Act of 1974 protects personally identifiable information, such as names, social security numbers, fingerprints, addresses, and phone numbers contained in a system of records. The following agencies comprise RD: (1) Rural Housing Service, (2) Rural Business-Cooperative Service, and (3) Rural Utilities Service.

RD is a centralized Mission Area within USDA. Requests for information, including subpoenas, pertaining to programs administered by RD, State Offices, and the Finance Office in St. Louis, Missouri should be made in writing to the National Office. Requests may be sent by mail, e-mail, or through our Public Access Link (PAL). PAL is a web portal that allows you to create, submit, and track the status of your FOIA request(s). Privacy Act requests – requests for records indexed to your name - may be accepted through e-mail. However, because a signature needs to be affixed to the request, you may be required to provide a signed Certificate of Identity. Please indicate that you are making a request under the FOIA and/or Privacy Act and provide as much information as you have about the records you are seeking. Consider including the names of authors and recipients of the records requested, grant or contract numbers if applicable, and the time period covered by your request in the description of the records requested. Include the mailing address or e-mail to which the records should be sent. We also suggest that you provide your telephone number, so that USDA employees may contact you for clarification of your request, if necessary.

USDA Rural Development FOIA Contact Information

USDA Rural Development Business Center
Records and Information Management Branch
1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Stop 0706
Washington, DC 20250-0706
Telephone: 202-720-2826

Information Resources

Requests for information pertaining to a specific state should be directed to the attention of the 'FOIA/Privacy Act Coordinator' and mailed to the appropriate USDA-Rural Development State Office, whose address is included in the FOIA contacts list shown below. Our FOIA reading room provides access to our most frequently requested information.