Because the RRB administers a comprehensive program of railroad retirement, unemployment, and sickness benefits for railroad workers, it also maintains information about individuals which may not be disclosed in response to a FOIA request. The Railroad Retirement Act, the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act, and the Privacy Act restrict the disclosure of information about individuals. If you request information about an individual, you must, as a general rule, provide the RRB a written authorization signed by the individual who is the subject of that record.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), establishes a presumption that all records of governmental agencies are accessible to the public unless they are specifically exempted from disclosure by FOIA or another statute.
FOIA imposes a tripartite scheme of disclosure:
- Federal Register Publication Requirements
Section 552(a)(1) requires agencies to publish in the Federal Register descriptions of agency organization; procedures for the public to obtain information; statements of agency function; rules of procedure; descriptions of agency forms; substantive rules of general applicability and statements of general policy; and any changes in material required to be published. Where a matter is required to be published in the Federal Register and is not so published, no person may in any manner be required to resort to, or be adversely affected by, the matter except to the extent that the person had actual and timely notice of the matter.,
- Public Availability Requirements
Section 552(a)(2) requires that agencies make available for public inspection or copying (or for sale) certain basic agency records that, while not subject to the publication requirement of § 552(a)(1), are to be made available in agency reading rooms and (for records created on or after November 1, 1996) in “electronic” reading rooms accessible by computer. Four categories of records are subject to this disclosure requirement: (a) final opinions in agency adjudications; (b) statements of policy and interpretations not published in the Federal Register; (c) administrative and staff manuals that affect the public; and (d) records processed and disclosed under a FOIA request that “the agency determines have become or are likely to become the subject of subsequent requests for substantially the same records.” Material required to be made publicly available may be used by the agency only if indexed or made available or published, or if the party affected otherwise has timely notice of the materials.
The RRB has established a reading room at its headquarters office. The reading room offers access to copies of the agency's procedure manuals, final decision of the three-member Board which heads the agency (“the Board”), ruling of the Board and legal opinions. Some of these documents may also be available at various district and regional offices of the RRB.
General information about the RRB is available in the Agency Overview.
You can also find information about RRB records under the Government Printing Office's ( GPO) Government Information Locator System (GILS). The GILS site contains an inventory of the RRB's automated information systems, its Privacy Act system of records, and how information is dispersed to other government agencies.
- Records Disclosed on Request
All other records unless exempt from required disclosure under § 552(b) or excluded from FOIA coverage under § 552(c) must be disclosed upon request. See APA § 522(a )( 2). Disclosure is to be effected pursuant to published agency rules. The RRB has issued regulations in 20 CFR 200.4 regarding its compliance with the FOIA. In addition, the RRB issues an annual report under the FOIA. Copies of the regulations and/or annual report may be obtained by writing to the General Counsel. The annual report is available on the RRB's website.