BIS does not maintain a Public Inspection facility (Reading Room). Instead, documents that are required to be made publicly available in the Reading Room are available on the Internet. These items are kept on the Web site for five years They are in a searchable PDF format and require an Adobe Acrobat 3.0 reader or higher to view. This reader can be downloaded at no cost to the user.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was originally enacted in 1966 to allow any person the right to request access to federal agency records maintained by agencies within the executive branch of the Federal Government. Agencies are required to disclose records upon written request except for those records that are protected from disclosure by any of the nine FOIA exemptions or by one of the three special law enforcement record exclusions. This right of access is enforceable in U.S. courts. Since its enactment the FOIA statute has been amended several times.
The Electronic Freedom of Information Act (E-FOIA) Amendments of 1996 require agencies to provide the public with electronic access to any of their "Reading Room" records that have been created by them since November 1, 1996. Each agency shall make available for public inspection and copying final opinions, including concurring and dissenting opinions, as well as orders, made in the adjudication of cases and a general index of the records. In accordance with E-FOIA, please browse through our Index of Documents for information that is currently available in our E-FOIA Reading Room. The information found on the Index of Documents includes “frequently requested records.” Browsing through this site before submitting a FOIA request may be cost-effective.
A FOIA request must be made in writing (and may be sent by mail, facsimile or e-mail) and must provide a "reasonable description" of the records you are seeking. For requests for records made on behalf of another individual, a written authorization signed by the individual permitting disclosure of his/her records is required.
State your willingness to pay the applicable fees or to pay fees up to a certain dollar amount, or provide a justification to support a fee waiver under the FOIA (See 15 C.F.R. § 4.11(k)).
Freedom of Information Officer
Bureau of Industry and Security, Room 6622
U.S. Department of Commerce
Washington, DC 20230
Federal agencies are required to respond to FOIA requests within 20 working days of receipt unless there are unusual circumstances such as (1) requesting records from field facilities or other separate establishments; (2) examining voluminous records; and (3) the need for consultation with another component or Federal agency.
If you should have questions concerning your request call 202-482-8093.
Go to DOC FOIA website
FOIA requesters may appeal an agency's decision not to provide information within 30 days of the date of the written denial. Appeals must include the following information:
a copy of the original request
the initial denial, if any; and
a statement of the reasons why the initial denial, if any, was in error.
FOIA requesters shall include with the letter of appeal copies of their original requests and the responses to the request, clearly marking the letters and the outside envelopes, "FOIA Appeal." Appeals should be made to:
U.S. Department of Commerce
Office of General Counsel, Room 5875
14th Street and Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20230
This component does not maintain a separate public inspection facility. Per BIS Policy Directive, Number 1012, June 1, 2008, “only personnel approved to work on BIS IT systems are allowed access to them.” The majority of BIS IT systems require a high degree of protection due to the storage and accessing of sensitive information, law enforcement, personnel, and technical information. Several BIS IT systems are categorized under federal guidance as “high security impact” systems, largely because they store global trade data.
BIS policies do not allow public use of computer terminals. The public may access the Department of Commerce’s library computer terminals.
Requesters should first view records located in BIS's Electronic FOIA Reading Room. If the records sought cannot be located at this site, please call (202) 482-8093. If records sought are older than 5 years, then a written FOIA request must be submitted. The BIS E-FOIA website is covered under the General Records Schedule (GRS) 14, item 11b, which states, “Dispose of in accordance with approved agency disposition instructions for the related records or with the related FOIA request, whichever is later.” Since these records are not part of a FOIA request, they are covered under the retention instructions found in the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), which indicates that such documents are maintained for five years.
Go to Index of Documents
Title 15 Code of Federal Regulation--Commerce and Foreign Trade, Part 4--Public Information
For additional general information on how to make a FOIA request see "A Citizen's Guide on Using the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974 to Request Government Records." This report is published by the Committee on Government Reform of the House of Representatives. It is available for sale for $5.00 from the U.S. Government Printing Office, stock number 052-071-01287-7. It also can be accessed on the World Wide Web on the Library of Congress Web site. This publication is also available at Federal Depository Libraries, the Government Printing Office, or you can access it through the GPO Access Web site.