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Laws and Regulations

Presidential Records Act (PRA)

The Presidential Records Act (PRA) of 1978 (44 U.S.C. 2201-2207) governs the official records of Presidents and Vice Presidents created or received after January 20, 1981. The PRA has six restrictions. The PRA restrictions only apply for twelve years following the end of the Administration, unlike records exempted under FOIA which may remain closed for longer and more variable periods of time.

Four of the six PRA restrictions mirror FOIA exemptions. Two restrictions that are distinct to the PRA are the P2 exemption for information relating to appointment of Federal office, and the P5 exemption for information that would disclose confidential advice between the President and his advisors, or between such advisors.

To learn more about the PRA, please read the PRA Guide provided by the National Archives.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA (5 U.S.C. 552, as amended), provides any person with the right, enforceable in court, to obtain access to federal agency records. This right to access is limited when such information is protected from public disclosure by one of nine exemptions.

A FOIA request must be submitted in the form of a letter, fax, or email. Describe the information you want in as much detail as possible. Once the request is received, the archival staff performs a search for responsive records. If a subject is too vague or broad, the FOIA will not be considered a reasonable request and may be rejected unless the researcher narrows or clarifies the topic. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns.

Gore Vice Presidential records became subject to FOIA on January 20, 2006.

Cheney Vice Presidential records became subject to FOIA on January 20, 2014.

To learn more about FOIA, please read the FOIA Reference Guide provided by the National Archives.

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The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
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