Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FOIA: Information Access Policy for the Government-Sponsored Enterprises [November 10, 2011] [open pdf - 312KB]
"The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA; 5 U.S.C. §552) grants the public presumptive access-- without explanation or justification--to certain existing, identifiable, unpublished, executive branch agency records. FOIA includes nine categories of exemption from disclosure, including information that could prompt national security concerns, invade privacy, or damage financial markets, among other concerns. Disputes over the accessibility of requested records can be appealed administratively or ultimately settled in court. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are congressionally chartered, stockholder-owned companies known as government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs). Their charters grant them special favorable treatment in return for supporting the nation's housing by limiting their businesses to purchasing existing mortgages and either holding them as investments or pooling them into mortgage-backed securities, which are sold to institutional investors. […] On July 12, 2011, the House Committee on Financial Services' Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises voted to approve the bill at markup, and it was then forwarded to the full committee. No further action has been taken on the bill. This report examines some possible effects of applying FOIA to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and identifies some open questions that Congress may address in this context. The report analyzes how certain FOIA requirements and guidelines may pose concerns if they are applied to private institutions. The report explores cases in which members of the public sought information from an entity in federal conservatorship, as well as how Amtrak, a shareholder-owned company that is financially dependent on the federal government through grants and entitlements, administers FOIA."
CRS Report for Congress, R42080