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Access to Records Under the Privacy Act
The privacy regulations for this office are set forth in Title 13, Part 102, Subpart B, of the Code of Federal Regulations.
An individual may submit a Privacy Act request for information only if they are a U.S. citizen or an alien who has been lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States.
In addition, they may only request information from SBA that is maintained in any of the SBA’s Privacy Act Systems of Records. These systems contain information regarding various categories of individuals including, but not limited to, current and former SBA employees, contractors, consultants, clients, applicants, and licensees.
An individual may request access to records concerning a minor child, if they are the child’s parent or legal guardian and demonstrate that they are acting in the child’s best interests. In addition, an individual may request access to records concerning another eligible individual, as long as they can provide verifiable written authorization from that person designating them as a representative acting on his or her behalf. However, any individual who willfully requests or obtains any information under false pretenses is guilty of a misdemeanor and may be fined up to $5,000, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(i)(3).
This office has responsibility for both the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which establishes a presumption that any person has the right to request access to records in the possession of the Executive Branch of the federal government.
While the two acts are considered companion acts, they have different procedures and exemptions. Consequently, information that is exempt from disclosure under one act may be disclosable under the other. In order to take maximum advantage of both acts, you should cite both laws when requesting access to SBA records that contain information only about yourself. When requesting records that contain information about other individuals or entities, only the FOIA applies.
It is SBA’s policy to automatically handle requests in a manner that maximizes the amount of information that is releasable. If there is any doubt about which act to use in requesting information from the SBA, you should cite both acts.
While neither act grants an absolute right to examine government documents, both acts give the right to request records and to receive a response to a request also provide a right to appeal the denial and, if necessary, to challenge it in court (as discussed elsewhere in this guide).