P7628-14
Research

How to Submit a FOIA Request

Letter from the Archivist of the United States to Researchers 

Notice to NARA Researchers and FOIA Requesters

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of our staff.  As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgment as well as a substantive response to your reference or FOIA request or appeal.  We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience. Read more on how NARA is addressing COVID-19 (coronavirus) at https://www.archives.gov/coronavirus.

 

Presidential Records

Federal government records -- and public access to them -- are defined in various statutes, including the Federal Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The Presidential Records Act (PRA) governs the official records of Presidents, including George W. Bush, created or received after January 20, 1981. The PRA allows for public access to Presidential Records through the FOIA beginning five years after the end of a President's Administration, but allows the President to invoke as many as six specific restrictions to public access for up to 12 years.

Finding Aids 

To assist your research, view the Finding Aids for open records currently available. Finding aids include information about extent or linear feet, access, series, administrative or biographical history, scope and content note, system of arrangement, container list (folder title list), and other details.

How to Submit a FOIA Request

All FOIA requests must state that you are requesting records under the Freedom of Information Act or FOIA. Submit your request in writing via mail, fax, or email to:

George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum
c/o FOIA Coordinator
2943 SMU Blvd, Dallas, TX 75205

Fax: 214-346-1558  (include cover sheet)

Email: gwbush.library@nara.gov (include your name in subject line)

Helpful Tips 

  • To avoid delays, review the FOIA Reference Guide before submitting your request.      
  • Consult with archives staff before filing a request.
  • All FOIA requests must include a reasonable description of the records requested.
  • Be as specific as possible with regard to names, titles, dates, places, events, subjects, recipients, or agency component(s) or offices likely to maintain records that are of interest to you.
  • The more specific you are about the records or types of records you want, the more likely it will be that our archivists will be able to locate those records for you.
  • Be aware the FOIA does not require us to do research for you, analyze data, answer written questions, or create records in order to respond to a request.
  • Understand that if you have an impending deadline, the FOIA process does take time.

Fees

The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum is the 13th Presidential Library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration, a U.S. Federal agency. The National Archives does not charge FOIA filing, searching, or processing fees. However, standard reproduction fees are charged for copying records. See the FOIA Reference Guide for details.

Top of Page

Frequently Asked FOIA Questions

What records are Presidential Records?

The Presidential Records Act (PRA) defines Presidential Records as “documentary materials, or any reasonably segregable portion thereof, created or received by the President, his immediate staff, or a unit or individual of the Executive Office of the President whose function is to advise and assist the President, in the course of conducting activities which relate to or have an effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the President.”

 PRESIDENTIAL RECORD
 NOT A PRESIDENTIAL RECORD
 Speeches 2000 & 2004 Campaign Materials
Presidential Schedules
Texas Gubernatorial Materials
 Presidential Correspondence
George W. Bush Foundation Materials

Examples of the offices that create Presidential records include the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council, the White House Counsel’s Office, and the White House Office of Speechwriting.

What records are not Presidential Records?

Campaign, gubernatorial, and George W. Bush Foundation materials are not Presidential records. In addition, certain offices within the White House create Federal records, not Presidential records, such as the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the Council on Environmental Quality, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

FOIA requests can be submitted directly to those offices for current or recent records or to the National Archives for accessioned historical records. Consult the National Archives Catalog for Record Group information and locations.

Additionally, not all commissions established by the President create Presidential records and records may be located with the agency in which it was established. Specific information on records of the 9/11 Commission can be located on Archives.gov.

How do I request records about a federal agency or Cabinet Secretary?

Requests for records concerning specific agencies or agency Secretaries should be submitted directly to those agencies such as the State Department, the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, etc. Records regarding specific agencies may be in the holdings of the George W. Bush Presidential Library if they were submitted to the White House or if someone within the White House was the recipient and/or sender of a record. Records between staff of a federal agency are not generally captured within the presidential archives. Current or recent records must be requested from the originating agency and accessioned historical records must be requested from the National Archives. Consult the National Archives Catalog for Record Group information and locations of federal agency records.

How long will it take to get the records I requested?

The FOIA process takes time. FOIA requests are processed by a first-in/first-out system based on a queue structure determined by the amount and type of records requested. Once a request is at the front of a queue, processing begins.

When a request is submitted, staff conduct an initial search for potentially responsive records, after which you will receive an acknowledgement letter with tracking number and information concerning the status of your request. You may request an estimated completion date for your FOIA request at any time.

Once records are processed, we must inform the incumbent and former Presidents (through designated representatives) of our intent to release responsive records, in accordance with Executive Order 13489. This notification gives them an opportunity to invoke executive privilege over the records proposed for disclosure. See the Letters of Notification of Intent to Release Presidential Records.

The notification period begins only after all processing is complete and reviewed records are officially proposed for opening to the public. After the Presidential notification process is complete, you will receive a final response letter.

How Do I Request Multiple Topics?

Submit each request in a separate email. Instead of submitting one request with multiple bullet points, submit each request in a distinct email. This will ensure your requests are processed as efficiently as possible.

Can I get my FOIA expedited?

Ordinarily, the National Archives will expedite a FOIA request only in certain cases. See the FOIA Reference Guide for more information.

How can I access the records?

All open records are available for viewing in the Research Room at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. Select records have been digitized and are available online through the Digital Library. Reproduction orders can be placed by contacting the Archives staff at gwbush.library@nara.gov or 214-346-1557. Learn more about Planning Your Research Visit.

What is the National Archives Catalog (NAC)?

The National Archives Catalog (NAC) is an online public portal created by the National Archives and Records Administration that contains descriptions of archival holdings, born-digital records, and digitized records held by the National Archives.

The NAC contains collection and series descriptions for records housed at the George W. Bush Presidential Library. Additionally, documents, photos, and other records held by the Library are hosted through the catalog. The Digital Library links directly to specific digitized content available in the NAC. The NAC can be searched for George W. Bush records and records descriptions; search results can be filtered by location.

Can I submit a FOIA request for political or campaign materials?

The PRA defines material related to political campaigns, which has no information concerning the constitutional, statutory, or official or ceremonial duties of the President, as personal material. This material is not subject to request under FOIA.

Can I request Gubernatorial Records?

While the gubernatorial records of George W. Bush are housed at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, requests must be submitted to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. To request George W. Bush gubernatorial records, click here

What if I have other questions?

Send us an email, call our Archives staff at 214-346-1557, or visit the National Archives's FOIA Frequently Asked Questions page.

Top of Page

 

PDF files require the free Adobe Reader.

  • Print Print