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May 31, 2013

Greetings!  We hope you are having a creative and joyful week!  This week's edition contains information about TTB's Public COLA Registry and about the Freedom of Information Act.

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In the TTB Newsletter, we compile the top TTB news of the week and other helpful information about the Bureau and the Federal alcohol and tobacco laws and regulations we enforce.

Please send any questions or comments to the Executive Liaison for Industry Matters at IndustryLiaison@ttb.gov and/or StateLiaison@ttb.gov.

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THE TTB PUBLIC COLA REGISTRY

In compliance with the Freedom of Information Act, also known as FOIA, TTB makes the Public COLA Registry available for use by industry members, industry representatives, state alcohol regulators, and the general public.  This public module of the COLAs Online system requires no user name or password and contains details of approved, expired, surrendered, and revoked certificates of label approval (or COLAs) and certificates of exemption from label approval (both issued on TTB F 5100.31 - Application for and Certification/Exemption of Label/Bottle Approval). 

You can also view a printable version of the certificates issued since 1999, if available. You can perform either a Basic Search or an Advanced Search of the TTB COLA database via the Public COLA Registry.  Although records are available dating back to the 1970s, records before 2003 may not be complete.  You will also find that we limit search results to 500 records, but the search results page will tell you the actual number of records in the database, and you can perform multiple searches to see the entire listing.

THE HISTORY OF  THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT AND TTB

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives any person the right to request access to records of the executive branch of the United States government. The records requested must be disclosed unless they are protected from disclosure by any of the nine exemptions contained in the law or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions. FOIA establishes the right to request records and to receive a response to the request. If a record cannot be released, the requestor is entitled to be told the reason for the denial. The requester also has a right to appeal the denial and, if necessary, to challenge it in court.

The Electronic FOIA Amendment of 1996 (EFOIA), brought the FOIA into the electronic information age by treating information maintained by agencies in electronic form in generally the same way as paper records. EFOIA promotes the use of advanced information technologies in order to achieve efficient disclosure of information to the public by electronic means. This brought about the electronic reading room. The electronic reading room gives you quick access to records discussed in response to FOIA requests that TTB determines have become or are likely to become the subject of subsequent requests for substantially the same records. These records may include agency policy statements, final opinions, and certain administrative staff manuals.

New laws, like the OPEN Government Act of 2007, as well as new policies, such as President Obama's Memorandum Concerning the Freedom of Information Act (January 21, 2009) and the Attorney General's Memorandum Concerning the Freedom of Information Act (March 19, 2009), directed agencies to apply a presumption of openness in responding to FOIA requests. The Attorney General emphasized that the President has called on agencies to work in a spirit of cooperation with FOIA requesters. The Attorney General FOIA Memo specifically called on agencies not to withhold information just because it technically falls within an exemption but he also encouraged agencies to make discretionary releases of records.

Visit the TTB electronic reading room or read more about TTB's FOIA program.