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FOIA

  • CFTC FOIA Reference Guide


    General Information
    Major Information Systems: Index of Publicly-Available Information

    Information Available on the Internet
    Information Available in the Commission's Reading Room

    Information Available from the Commission's Office of Proceedings

    Major Records Categories Requiring a Freedom of Information Act Request

    Freedom of Information Act

    How to Request Records Under the Freedom of Information Act
    Fees

    Exemptions

    Appeals

    Information Locator Systems
    Contact Information

    General Information


    The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC or Commission) was created by Congress in 1974 as an independent agency with the mandate to regulate commodity futures and option markets in the United States.(1)

    The agency protects market participants against manipulation, abusive trade practices and fraud. Through effective oversight and regulation, the CFTC enables the markets to serve better their important functions in the nation's economy— providing a mechanism for price discovery and a means of offsetting price risk.

    Individuals seeking information from the Commission may obtain any of the Commission's public records. The term "public records" refers to materials published in the Federal Register and records required to be publicly available under the Freedom of Information Act, as described in Section 145.2 of the Commission's rules, 17 CFR. Section 145.2. "Public records" also refers to those records that the Commission has determined to be generally available to the public upon request to the Commission office or division responsible for such records. For a listing of Commission records routinely available to the public see Index of Publicly-Available Information.

    Individuals seeking non-public information or information which is not routinely available to the public must file a written request under the Freedom of Information Act. See How to Request Records Under the Freedom of Information Act.

    Major Information Systems: Index of Publicly-Available Information


    Information Available on the Internet

    The following information is available to the public on the Commission's website (www.cftc.gov) and from the Office of External Affairs at 202-418-5080 unless otherwise noted:

    • CFTC Reports and Publications
        • CFTC Annual Report
        • CFTC Letters
        • CFTC News Releases
        • CFTC Advisories
        • CFTC Speeches & Testimony
        • FOIA Annual Report
        • CFTC Glossary: A Guide to the Language of the Futures Industry
        • Disciplinary History: Reparations Sanctions in Effect and Administrative Sanctions in Effect
        • Selected FCM Financial Data
        • Commitments of Traders Reports (only available on the Commission's website)
    • Federal Register Notices
      CFTC notices and announcements published in the Federal Register.
    • Information About the Commission
        • CFTC job announcements
        • CFTC contact information
        • CFTC Commissioner biographies
    • Information About Specific Commission Programs
        • Agricultural Advisory Committee
        • Global Markets Advisory Committee
        • Technology Advisory Committee
        • Division of Clearing and Intermediary Oversight
        • Division of Market Oversight
        • Division of Enforcement
        • International Program
        • Reparations Program
    • Industry Filings: Query & Information Retrieval Tool
      Provides information about approved and pending futures and options contracts. Copies of the rules containing the terms and conditions of applications submitted in electronic form are available through the CFTC website. Copies of rules containing the terms and conditions of other applications may be requested by email to secretary@cftc.gov. Responses to requests for public comment published in the Federal Register may be submitted by email to secretary@cftc.gov.

    Opinions and Orders
    Opinions and orders issued in cases on appeal to the Commission. Three types of cases are decided by the Commission: (1) enforcement cases on appeal from a decision of an administrative law judge; (2) reparations cases on appeal from a decision of an administrative law judge or a judgment officer; and (3) appeals from disciplinary and other decisions of the exchanges and the National Futures Association. Commission opinions and orders are also available from the Office of Proceedings at 202-418-5508.

    Privacy Act Systems Notices
    A compilation of Federal Register notices describing Commission systems of records that contain information about individuals.

    Registration Information
    Publicly-available registration and disciplinary information regarding firms and individuals in the futures industry may be requested from the National Futures Association's Information Center. From outside Illinois, call 800-621-3570 or 312- 781-1410. Or visit NFA's website at www.nfa.futures.org/.

    Rule Changes/Amendments
    Proposals to amend NFA and exchange rules and regulations, including terms and conditions of futures and options contracts, and CFTC responses to the proposals.

    Information Available in the Commission's Reading Room
    The following categories of information are available on request from the Commission's Reading Room located at the Commission's Headquarters Office at Three Lafayette Centre, 1155 21st Street, NW, Washington, DC 20581. The telephone number is 202-418-5105. Copies are available at 15 cents per page.

    Advisory Committee Documents
    Final reports, minutes, transcripts, and other materials from Commission advisory committee meetings.

    Bulletins
    News releases and publications containing general information issued by exchanges and associations.

    Comment Letters
    Comment letters and public background materials pertaining to industry and Commission proposals published for comment in the Federal Register.

    Disciplinary Notifications
    Notices of exchange and NFA disciplinary actions, including suspensions, expulsions, or other penalties for the previous 12 months. NFA disciplinary notifications for the current and previous years can be found at its website at www.nfa.futures.org/basicnet/.

    Federal Register Releases
    Excerpts from the Federal Register that pertain to Commission issues and activities.

    Frequently Requested FOIA Records
    Materials released in response to FOIA requests which are likely to be the subject of future FOIA requests.

    Membership Notifications
    Notices from exchanges concerning governing board membership.

    Minutes
    A summarized record of the proceedings at open Commission meetings.

    Opinions and Orders
    Decisions of CFTC administrative law judges, judgment officers, and cases adjudicated before the Commission. Three types of cases are decided by the Commission: (1) enforcement cases on appeal from a decision of an administrative law judge; (2) reparations cases on appeal from a decision of an administrative law judge or a judgment officer; and (3) appeals from disciplinary decisions of the exchanges and the National Futures Association. Commission opinions and orders are also available from the Office of Proceedings.

    Privacy Act Systems of Records Notices
    A compilation of Federal Register notices describing Commission systems of records that contain information about individuals.

    Rule Changes/Amendments
    Proposals to amend NFA and exchange rules and regulations, including terms and conditions of futures and options contracts, and CFTC responses to the proposals.

    Rule 140.98 Letters
    Public versions of requests for no-action, exemption, and interpretative letters and the Commission's responses.

    Silver Documents
    Public version of the Division of Trading and Markets Investigative Report Concerning Actions of the Chicago Board of Trade and Commodity Exchange in the Silver Market of 1979/80.

    Staff Documents
    Public background and supporting materials made available at open Commission meetings.

    Sunshine Certificates
    Documents certifying the reason for closing certain Commission meetings.

    Terms and Conditions
    Terms and conditions of exchange applications for designation as a contract market in certain futures and options contracts.

    Information Available from the Commission's Office of Proceedings
    Publicly-available filings relating to reparations proceedings, enforcement actions, and Commission review of exchange and NFA actions are available on request from the Commission's Office of Proceedings.

    The Office of Proceedings is located at the Commission's principal office at Three Lafayette Centre, 1155 21st Street, NW, Washington, DC 20581. Copies are available at 15 cents per page.

    Major Records Categories Requiring a Freedom of Information Act Request
    The following major records categories and any related documentation are considered non-public records and must be requested under the Freedom of Information Act. How to Request Records Under the Freedom of Information Act provides additional information. Note that many of the listed categories may be considered exempt from disclosure under the FOIA.

    Applications for Contract Market Designation
    Congressional Correspondence
    Disclosure Documents
    Employee Personnel Records
    General Correspondence
    Financial Reports
    Financial Surveillance and Audit Information
    Investigatory Records (2)
    Large Trader Reports (2)
    Litigation Files
    Market Analysis Information
    Market Surveillance Files (2)
    Procurement Contract Records
    Registration Applications
    Records Relating to Commission Meetings
    Trade Practice Investigative Files
    Travel Records

    Freedom of Information Act


    The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 USC Section 552, provides individuals with a right of access to Federal agency records, except to the extent that such records are protected from disclosure by one of its nine exemptions. The basic purpose of the FOIA is "to ensure an informed citizenry, vital to the functioning of a democratic society needed to check against corruption and to hold the government accountable to the governed."(3)

    FOIA requests for records of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission are processed by the FOIA Compliance Office, Office of the General Counsel, at the Commission's Headquarters Office at Three Lafayette Centre, 1155 21st Street, NW, Washington, DC 20581. The main telephone number for the FOIA Office is 202-418-5105. The fax number is 202-418-5124.

    How to Request Records Under the Freedom of Information Act


    Requests for records maintained by the Commission must be in writing and clearly marked "Freedom of Information Act Request."

    The request should be addressed to the FOIA Compliance Office, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Three Lafayette Centre, 1155 21st Street, NW, Washington, DC 20581.

    Each FOIA request should include a reasonable description of the records sought and an agreement to pay for any copying, search, or review costs incurred in processing the request. See Fee Schedule.

    The FOIA Compliance Officer will issue a determination within 20 working days as specified in the Act. In unusual circumstances, the prescribed time limit may be extended by written notice to the requester.

    Fees


    Requests for records under the Freedom of Information Act should include an agreement to pay all fees associated with the processing of the request, in accordance with the rates set forth here. If requesters ask that fees be limited to a certain amount, no work will be done resulting in fees beyond that amount. A requester who seeks a waiver or reduction of fees pursuant to the Commission's rules should show that disclosure of the requested information would be in the public interest.

    Schedule of Fees

    For search and review of records:

    Professional staff

    $10.25 per quarter hour

    Clerical staff

    $4.75 per quarter hour

     

    For copying:

    Paper

    $0.15 per page

    Other materials

    Actual cost of materials and reproduction

     

    For certification

    $3.00

     

    For overnight or express mail

    $10.00 per package

     

    For examination of records at a Commission office other than the office maintaining the records:

     

    Transportation of records

    Actual cost

    Preparation of records for transit

    $3.00 per quarter hour


    Fee Waivers

    The Commission will waive or reduce fees if (i) the fees are less than $10.00 (the approximate cost to the Commission of collecting the fee); or (ii) the Commission determines that the disclosure of the information is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.

    The Commission will charge fees even if no records are provided to the requester. Fees vary by type of requester as follows:

    Categories of Requesters
    1. Commercial Use Requester. The Commission charges fees for search time, review time, and duplication of records to any person requesting information for a use or purpose that furthers the commercial, trade, or profit interests of the requester or a person on whose behalf the request is made.

    2. Educational Institution or Noncommercial Scientific Institution. The Commission charges only duplication fees to schools or to organizations that operate solely for the purpose of scientific research, the results of which are not intended to promote any particular product or industry. The Commission does not charge for the first 100 pages duplicated or for search or review time.

    3. Representative of News Media. The Commission charges only duplication fees to any person actively gathering news for an organization that publishes or broadcasts news to the public. The Commission does not charge for the first 100 pages duplicated or for search or review time.

    4. Other Requesters. The Commission charges fees for search time and duplication to requesters who are not covered by one of the categories above. The Commission does not charge for the first two hours of search time, the first 100 pages of duplication, or review time. If the search is for records stored in a computer format, the Commission waives a combination of computer operation charges and search time charges up to the equivalent of two hours of professional search time.

    Payment of Fees
    The requester should mail a check or money order to:

    Commodity Futures Trading Commission
    FOIA Compliance Office
    Office of the General Counsel
    Three Lafayette Centre
    1155 21st Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20581

    The Commission will begin charging interest on unpaid bills on the 31st day following the day on which the bill was sent. Interest will be at the rate prescribed in 31 USC Section 3717.

    Exemptions


    CFTC records are releasable unless they contain information that qualifies for withholding under one or more of the following nine FOIA exemptions:

    Exemption 1 (5 USC Section 552(b)(1)). This exemption authorizes protection of national security information that has been properly classified in accordance with the requirements of an executive order.

    Exemption 2 (5 USC Section 552(b)(2)). This exemption authorizes protection of records related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency.

    Exemption 3 (5 USC Section 552(b)(3)). This exemption requires protection of information that is covered by another statute that specifically prohibits disclosure of information. For the Commission, Section 8 (a) of the Commodity Exchange Act, 7 USC Section 12(a), prohibits the release of data or information which would disclose business transactions or market positions of any person and trade secrets or names of customers, and any data or information concerning or obtained in connection with any pending investigation of any person.

    Exemption 4 (5 USC Section 552(b)(4)). This exemption protects trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person when disclosure is likely to cause substantial competitive harm to the person.

    Exemption 5 (5 USC Section 552(b)(5)). This exemption authorizes protection of inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda or letters, except those which by law would routinely be made available to a party other than an agency in litigation with the Commission.

    Exemption 6 (5 USC Section 552(b)(6)). This exemption protects an individual's personal privacy interests, i.e., “personnel, and medical, files and similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

    Exemption 7 (5 USC Section 552(b)(7)). This exemption protects records or other information compiled for law enforcement purposes, to the extent that production of such records or information:

    A. could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings;

    B. would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication;

    C. could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;

    D. could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source, and, in the case of a record compiled by a criminal law enforcement authority in the course of a criminal investigation or by an agency conducting a lawful national security intelligence investigation, information furnished by a confidential source;

    E. would disclose investigative techniques and procedures, if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law; or

    F. could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual.

    Exemption 8 (5 USC 552(b)(8)). This exemption protects information contained in certain reports prepared for or by an agency responsible for regulating financial institutions.

    Exemption 9 (5 USC 552(b)(9)). This exemption protects geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells.

    Appeals


    If the Commission notifies a requester that his or her Freedom of Information Act request has been denied in whole or in part, the requester may file an appeal.

    The requester must send the appeal in writing and clearly marked "Freedom of Information Act Appeal" to the Commission's Office of the General Counsel at Three Lafayette Centre, 1155 21st Street, NW, Washington, DC 20581. The main telephone number for the Office of the General Counsel is 202-418-5120. The requester must attach a copy of all correspondence relevant to the request, for example, the initial request, any correspondence amending or modifying the request, and all correspondence from Commission staff responding to the request. The Office of the General Counsel must receive the appeal within 30 days of the date of the denial by the FOIA Compliance Office. This 30-day period does not begin to run until the FOIA Compliance Office issues a determination with respect to all portions of the request.

    The appeal should include all relevant facts and cite legal or other authorities that the requester considers appropriate. The appeal may also include a description of the general benefit to the public from disclosure of the information at issue.

    If the appeal involves information for which confidential treatment has been requested by the submitter of the information, the FOIA requester must serve a copy of the appeal on the submitter. The submitter may respond in writing to the appeal within ten business days of the date of filing of the appeal. The submitter must send the response to the Office of the General Counsel, with copies sent to the FOIA Compliance Office and to the requester.

    The Office of the General Counsel will notify the requester in writing when the appeal is decided.

    Ultimately, the decision may be taken to the U.S. District Court.

    Information Locator Systems


    A number of information locator systems are available for obtaining information online. Some of the most helpful are listed below:

    The CFTC website provides links to government and futures-related sites.

    For other government resources, visit:

    Federal Citizen Information Center, USA Services
    http://www.info.gov

    GPO Access
    http://www.gpoaccess.gov/index.html

    Contact Information


    CFTC Headquarters Office

    Three Lafayette Centre
    1155 21st Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20581
    Telephone: 202-418-5000
    Fax: 202-418-5521
    TTY: 202-418-5514

    Central Region
    525 West Monroe Street
    Suite 1100
    Chicago, Illinois 60661
    Telephone: 312-596-0700
    Fax: 312-596-0716
    TTY: 312-596-0565

    Eastern Region
    140 Broadway
    New York, New York 10005
    Telephone: 646-746-9700
    Fax: 646-746-9938
    TTY: 646-746-9820

    Southwestern Region
    Two Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd.
    Suite 300
    Kansas City, Missouri 64112
    Telephone: 816-960-7700
    Fax: 816-960-7750
    TTY: 816-960-7704

    (1) Although the CFTC does not regulate markets outside of the United States, it does regulate activities of intermediaries soliciting or accepting orders from, advising, or organizing pools among U.S. persons to trade on such markets ("foreign futures and options").

    (2) This information is generally protected from disclosure under the FOIA by Section 8(a) of the CEA, 7 USC Section 12 (a), which provides that open investigatory files, specific trader and transaction information may not be "published."

    (3) NLRB v. Robbins Tire & Rubber Co., 437 U.S. 214, 242 (1978)

    (4) A "record" is defined in 17 CFR Section 145.0(b) as any document, writing, photograph, sound or magnetic recording, videotape, microfiche, drawing, or computer-stored information or output in the possession of the Commission. The term "record" does not include personal convenience materials over which the Commission has no control, such as appointment calendars and handwritten notes, that may be retained or destroyed at an employee's discretion.