Records created or received by the White House during the Administration of President George W. Bush are subject to the Presidential Records Act (PRA), 44 U.S.C. SS 2201-2207, as provided in section 2204 of the PRA. Under the terms of the PRA, records are not available for use by the public (unless they have been previously placed in the public domain) and subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) until five years after the end of the Administration. According to special access provisions of the PRA, requests for access to unprocessed records can be made only by the incumbent President, former President George W. Bush, the Congress, or the courts.
Archivists began systematically processing Bush Presidential records in 2009 in preparation for public use and research. Those materials that are restricted under the PRA will remain closed for twelve years after the President has left office. Five years from the end of the administration (during which all records are closed except when access is permitted under the special access provisions of the PRA), the PRA states that records are accessible through the FOIA. Therefore, beginning January 20, 2014, Presidential records that have not been processed can be requested through FOIA by any individual who submits a written and signed FOIA request.
Records closed under FOIA will remain closed for longer, variable periods. Much of the information closed by the Library in accordance with the PRA restrictions and the FOIA exemptions is applied to materials to protect sensitive matters, such as personal privacy and national security. The appropriate restrictions are cited for all closed information so researchers are fully informed about all materials being withheld.
Donated historical materials, such as gubernatorial, campaign, and personal papers from the Bush family and White House staff members, are processed in accordance with the Deed of Gift agreement signed by the donor. Unprocessed donated historical materials are not accessible to researchers or subject to FOIA.