Freedom of Information Act Prior to the 1974 Amendments

ATTACHMENT A: Freedom of Information Act Prior to 1974 Amendments

§ 552. Public information; agency rules, opinions, orders, records, and proceedings

(a) Each agency shall make available to the public information as follows:

(1) Each agency shall separately state and currently publish in the Federal Register for the

guidance of the public--

(A) descriptions of its central and field organization and the established places at which, the

employees (and in the case of a uniformed service, the members) from whom, and the methods

whereby, the public may obtain information, make submittals or requests, or obtain decisions;

(B) statements of the general course and method by which its functions are channeled and

determined, including the nature and requirements of all formal and informal procedures


(C) rules of procedure, descriptions of forms available or the places at which forms may be

obtained, and instructions as to the scope and contents of all papers, reports, or examinations;

(D) substantive rules of general applicability adopted as authorized by law, and statements of

general policy or interpretations of general applicability formulated and adopted by the agency;


(E) each amendment, revision, or repeal of the foregoing.

Except to the extent that a person has actual and timely notice of the terms thereof, a person may

not in any manner be required to resort to, or be adversely affected by, a matter required to be

published in the Federal Register and not so published. For the purpose of this paragraph, matter

reasonably available to the class of persons affected thereby is deemed published in the Federal

Register when incorporated by reference therein with the approval of the Director of the Federal


(2) Each agency, in accordance with published rules, shall make available for public inspection

and copying--

(A) final opinions, including concurring and dissenting opinions, as well as orders, made in the

adjudication of cases;

(B) those statements of policy and interpretations which have been adopted by the agency and are

not published in the Federal Register; and

(C) administrative staff manuals and instructions to staff that affect a member of the public;

unless the materials are promptly published and copies offered for sale. To the extent required to

prevent a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, an agency may delete identifying

details when it makes available or publishes an opinion, statement of policy, interpretation, or

staff manual or instruction. However, in each case the justification for the deletion shall be

explained fully in writing. Each agency shall also maintain and make available for public

inspection and copying a current index providing identifying information for the public as to any

matter issued, adopted, or promulgated after July 4, 1967, and required by this paragraph to be

made available or published. A final order, opinion, statement of policy, interpretation, or staff

manual or instruction that affects a member of the public may be relied on, used, or cited as

precedent by an agency against a party other than an agency only if--

(i) it has been indexed and either made available or published as provided by this paragraph; or

(ii) the party has actual and timely notice of the terms thereof.

(3) Except with respect to the records made available under paragraphs (1) and (2) of this

subsection, each agency, on request for identifiable records made in accordance with published

rules stating the time, place, fees to the extent authorized by statute and procedure to be followed,

shall make the records promptly available to any person. On complaint, the district court of the

United States in the district in which the complainant resides, or has his principal place of

business, or in which the agency records are situated, has jurisdiction to enjoin the agency from

withholding agency records and to order the production of any agency records improperly

withheld from the complaint. In such a case the court shall determine the matter de novo and the

burden is on the agency to sustain its action. In the event of noncompliance with the order of the

court, the district court may punish for contempt the responsible employee, and in the case of a

uniformed service, the responsible member. Except as to causes the court considers of greater

importance, proceedings before the district court, as authorized by this paragraph, take

precedence on the docket over all other causes and shall be assigned for hearing and trial at the

earliest practicable date and expedited in every way.

(4) Each agency having more than one member shall maintain and make available for public

inspection a record of the final votes of each member in every agency proceeding.

(b) This section does not apply to matters that are--

(1) specifically required by Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or

foreign policy;

(2) related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency;

(3) specifically exempted from disclosure by statute;

(4) trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged

or confidential;

(5) inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available by law to

a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency;

(6) personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a

clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;

(7) investigatory files compiled for law enforcement purposes except to the extent available by

law to a party other than an agency;

(8) contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by, on behalf

of, or for the use of an agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial

institutions; or

(9) geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells.

(c) This section does not authorize withholding of information or limit the availability of records

to the public, except as specifically stated in this section. This section is not authority to withhold

information from Congress. (Pub. L. 89-554, Sept. 6, 1966, 80 Stat. 383; Pub. L. 90-23, § 1, June

5, 1967, 81 Stat. 54.)

Go to: 1974 AG Memo // Reference Materials // FOIA Home Page

// Justice Department Home Page

Updated July 23, 2014