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Archivist stamping documents

Presidential records created or received by the White House during the Administration of President George W. Bush are subject to the 1978 Presidential Records Act (PRA). Under the terms of the PRA, §§ 44 U.S.C.  2201-2207. As provided in section 2204 of the PRA, Presidential records are not subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for a period of five years after the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) takes custody of the records. According to special access provisions of the PRA, requests for access to unprocessed records can be made only by the incumbent President, former President George W. Bush, the Congress, or the courts. 

However, archivists at the George W. Bush Presidential Library began systematically processing Bush Presidential records in 2009 in preparation for public use and research. View the Finding Aids for the records currently available for research at the Library.

Those materials that were restricted under the PRA remained closed for twelve years after the President has left office. Five years from the end of the Administration, the PRA states that records are accessible through the FOIA. Therefore, beginning January 20, 2014, Presidential records that have not been processed can be requested through FOIA by any individual who submits a written and signed FOIA request.

Records closed under FOIA will remain closed for longer, variable periods. Much of the information closed by the Library in accordance with the PRA restrictions and the FOIA exemptions is applied to materials to protect sensitive matters, such as personal privacy and national security. The appropriate restrictions are cited for all closed information so researchers are fully informed about all materials being withheld.

Donated historical materials, such as gubernatorial, campaign, and personal papers from the Bush family and White House staff members, are processed in accordance with the Deed of Gift agreement signed by the donor. Unprocessed donated historical materials are not accessible to researchers or subject to FOIA.