Office of Government Information Services (OGIS)

Model Language for Agency Response Letters

OGIS Standard Language to include in Agency Response Letters

Under the law, agencies must notify requesters of their right to pursue alternative dispute resolution at three points in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process. Please use the updated model language included with the Office of Information Policy's guidance regarding the new required notification. For convenience, we have duplicated the model language below. We have also included model language to include in responses to appeals. If you have any questions, please contact us at ogis@nara.gov or 202-741-5770.

 

1. The new law says that in cases of adverse determinations, agencies shall notify requesters of the right of the person to appeal and to “to seek dispute resolution services from the FOIA Public Liaison of the agency or the Office of Government Information Services.” 5 U.S.C. § 552 (a)(6)(A)(i)(III).

Suggested language for initial determination letters:

You may contact [optional:  the analyst who processed your request and/or the FOIA Requester Service Center, as well as] our FOIA Public Liaison, [name], for any further assistance and to discuss any aspect of your request at:

[Mailing address]
[Telephone number]
[Email address]
[Fax number, if applicable]  

Additionally, you may contact the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) at the National Archives and Records Administration to inquire about the FOIA mediation services they offer.  The contact information for OGIS is as follows: Office of Government Information Services, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road-OGIS, College Park, Maryland 20740-6001, e-mail at ogis@nara.gov; telephone at 202-741-5770; toll free at 1-877-684-6448; or facsimile at 202-741-5769.

If you are not satisfied with [insert your agency]'s determination in response to this request, you may administratively appeal by writing to [insert your agency contact information].  Your appeal must be postmarked or electronically transmitted within 90 days of the date of the response to your request.

 

2. Agencies must also notify requesters of their right to seek assistance from OGIS in appeal response letters, pursuant to guidance from the Office of Information Policy at the Department of Justice.

Suggested language for appeal response letters:

The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), the Federal FOIA Ombudsman's office, offers services to help resolve disputes between FOIA requesters and Federal agencies.

Office of Government Information Services

National Archives and Records Administration

8601 Adelphi Road--OGIS

College Park, MD 20740-6001

ogis@nara.gov

ogis.archives.gov

202-741-5770

1-877-684-6448

 

3. The new law says that in cases of unusual circumstances in which the law gives 10 additional working days for agencies to respond, agencies must notify requesters of the right to seek dispute resolution services from the agency’s FOIA Public Liaison and OGIS. 5 U.S.C. § 552 (a)(6)(B)(ii).

Suggested language for requests in which unusual circumstances allow for 10 additional working days to respond:

After explaining what the “unusual circumstances” are and providing the requester with an opportunity to narrow his/her request or to arrange an alternative time for processing:

If you have any questions or wish to discuss reformulation or an alternative time frame for the processing of your request, you may contact [optional:  the analyst handling your request at ---, or] our FOIA Public Liaison, [name], for any further assistance and to discuss any aspect of your request at:

[Mailing address]
[Telephone number]
[Email address]
[Fax number, if applicable]  

Additionally, you may contact the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) at the National Archives and Records Administration to inquire about the FOIA mediation services they offer.  The contact information for OGIS is as follows: Office of Government Information Services, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road-OGIS, College Park, Maryland 20740-6001; e-mail at ogis@nara.gov; telephone at 202-741-5770; toll free at 1-877-684-6448; or facsimile at 202-741-5769.

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