Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Policy Regarding Availability of Information
Section 1. Statement of Policy
This policy sets forth the principles and procedures of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston ("Bank") regarding the disclosure and availability of information and records of the Bank to the public.
The Bank is not an "agency" as that term is defined in the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 ("FOIA"), and is therefore not subject to its provisions. The Bank has elected to comply with the spirit of FOIA, however. Accordingly, this Policy provides for the disclosure of Bank information and records, unless the information or records fall within one of several exemptions that are set forth below or in FOIA.
Nothing contained in this Policy is intended to affect the communications or informational services that are routinely provided by the Bank, or any obligations to disclose information pursuant to law (e.g., Section 1103 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act) or other legal process.
Information requests invoking FOIA will be handled according to this Policy.
Section 2. Definitions
"Board" means Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
"Day" means a weekday (Monday through Friday) that is a business day for the Bank, unless otherwise specified.
"FOMC" means the Federal Open Market Committee of the Board/Federal Reserve System.
"Information of the Bank" means records and information created or obtained by the Bank and under the Bank's control. It includes records or information in the possession or control of any director, officer, employee, consultant, or agent of the Bank in the performance of their respective duties and functions for, or on behalf of, the Bank in the regular course of business. Information of the Bank does not include confidential supervisory information created, received, or maintained pursuant to authority delegated by the Board by 12 C.F.R. § 265; records of the United States Treasury; briefing materials or records of, or related to, the FOMC; records of other Federal and state agencies; and/or records of any party for which the Bank serves as agent unless expressly designated and authorized by the principal.
"Information Regarding Security Procedures" includes, but is not limited to, records concerning the Bank's weapons, anti-terrorist devices, security equipment, staffing in the Law Enforcement Unit, surveillance footage, and Law Enforcement Unit procedural manuals.
"Records of the Bank" means any information that has business, operational, legal, or historical value to the Bank, including accounts, databases, diagrams, documents, drawings, e-mails, files, letters, lists, memoranda, minutes, opinions, photographs, plans, reports, rules, spreadsheets, statements, videos, including any such materials stored electronically, digitally, or in any other media. For purposes of this Policy, the term "records of the Bank" does not include (i) documents that are either not in existence or that have been destroyed in accordance with law or established Bank procedures or (ii) intellectual property. "Records of the Bank" shall also include any other records considered to be Federal Reserve Bank records under the System Record Retention Manual as it may be amended from time to time.
"Non-Record" means information that does not meet the definition of a record of the Bank or that is listed below as a non-record. Non-records generally include the following:
- Copies and duplicates - extra copies of Records kept by users or Bank departments for convenience or internal reference purposes only;
- Drafts - versions of a record that have been replaced by a more recent or final version of the Record;
- Non-business Information - information that does not relate to the Bank's business or official functions, such as personal emails, social media, or blog entries;
- Notes - handwritten notes or other notes created by users that are not distributed or made available to others for approval, comment, follow-up, recommendation, or other official Bank action;
- Routine messages - such as meeting invitations, scheduling messages, reminders, telephone logs, and calendar entries;
- Telephone voice messages;
- External non-Bank information or publications, such as trade journals, newsletters, and catalogs in the public domain.
"Secretary" means the corporate secretary to the Board of Directors of the Bank.
Section 3. Records to Be Made Publicly Available
- The Bank will make records available to the public pursuant to this policy unless it reasonably foresees that disclosure would harm an interest protected by an exemption or disclosure is prohibited by law.
- The Bank will make records that have been requested three or more times publicly available in an electronic format.
Section 4: Requests for Records
- Verbal or written requests for information that the Bank or Federal Reserve System regularly makes available to the public should be directed to the Public Information Officer or other appropriate Bank function, and may be handled promptly and directly without referral to the Secretary, provided any such request does not invoke or cite FOIA.
- Requests for verification of employee income or employment should be made by calling 1-800-367-2884 or by visiting the website www.TheWorkNumber.com.
Requests for records that are not routinely made public and/or that invoke FOIA must be made in writing to the Secretary.
- Requests should contain the name, address, e-mail address (if any), and telephone number of the requestor and a detailed, specific description of the records requested.
- Vague or generic requests that do not identify the requested information with particularity will be denied.
- Generally, the Bank will not create records that it does not ordinarily maintain or extensively modify existing systems or records or computer programs in response to an information request.
- Media requests should be handled in accordance with the Bank's Media and Government Relations Policy. (Please contact Joel Werkema, Public Information Officer, and 973-3510.)
- The Secretary will acknowledge receipt of a request for records within 3 days of the date the Secretary receives the request.
- The Secretary, after consultation with the Legal Department and any appropriate department officer, will respond to a request for records within 20 days by providing the records, extending the response period, or making an adverse determination on the request.
- When making an adverse determination regarding a request for records, the Secretary will notify the requestor in writing of the reasons for the adverse determination and the right of appeal under Section 6, below.
Section 5. Requests for Records Created or Belonging to Other Agencies or Third Parties
On occasion, a requestor may seek information that falls outside the definition of "information or records of the Bank" due to the fact that it was created by, or is the property of, another agency, entity, or individual. Examples include, but are not limited to: confidential supervisory information of the Board; FOMC information; information of the U.S. Treasury, including fiscal agency records; and information of another federal or state agency. If guidelines or regulations issued by an appropriate third party allow disclosure by the Bank, the Bank may release such records according to the applicable guidelines or regulations. Otherwise, the requestor will be referred to the agency or entity that is responsible for the requested information. If the Secretary makes such referral directly, the Secretary will notify the requestor promptly.
Section 6. Appeal from Adverse Determination
A person whose request for records under Section 3 is denied may request review of the adverse determination. A written request for review must be filed with the Secretary within 90 calendar days of receipt of the notification of adverse determination. The First Vice President of the Bank or his/her designee will determine whether to reverse the adverse determination within 20 days of receipt of a written appeal, and will notify the requestor in writing of the decision.
Section 7. Extensions
The Bank will make good faith efforts to act in accordance with the provisions of this Policy. The Secretary may extend the time for responding to any request, but will notify the requester in writing of any extension and the reason for it.
Section 8. Records Not Subject to Disclosure
The Bank may, in its discretion, decline to make information or records available on grounds consistent with the exemptions contained in FOIA and the guidelines listed below. The Bank may also defer or decline disclosure of information or records when disclosure would interfere with effective performance of the Bank's statutory or regulatory responsibilities.
The Secretary will not disclose records of the Bank that are:
- specifically authorized by Executive Order to be kept secret in the interest of national security or foreign policy and that are in fact properly classified pursuant to such Executive order;
- related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of the Bank;
- specifically exempted from disclosure by statute or Board regulation;
- trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential;
- privileged intra- and inter-Bank records that would not be available by law to a party in litigation with the Bank, such as attorney-client, attorney work product, and deliberative process materials;
- related to the Bank's security or information security procedures, or compiled for law enforcement purposes;
- personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
- concerned with specific extensions of credit made by the Bank, other than disclosure required under 1103(b) of the Dodd-Frank Act;
- recorded as minutes of meetings of the Bank's Board of Directors (and its committees);
- constitute proprietary computer source code.
Segregable portions of records or information not otherwise exempt as listed above may be provided if release of that excerpt/portion will convey meaningful information that is not misleading.
Section 9. Fees
Fees for search, production, and copying of records shall be assessed in a manner reasonably similar to the fees charged by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. In its discretion, the Bank may grant a waiver or reduction of fees if it determines that (i) disclosure of the information is in the public interest; and (ii) the disclosure of information is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requestor. No search fees will be charged if the Bank fails to respond to a record request within 20 days.
Section 10. Records of Information Requests
The Secretary will maintain a cumulative log recording the date of receipt, name of requestor, information requested, and the disposition of each request for records made pursuant to FOIA or these rules.
Section 11. Subpoenas
Subpoenas should be addressed to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in care of the Legal Department. Responses to subpoenas will be coordinated or prepared by the Legal Department.
Section 12. Construction of Rules
Where not otherwise specified herein, these rules will be interpreted consistently with 12 C.F.R. § 261, with the exception of provisions specifically pertaining to federal agencies.
Effective October 17, 2017