Office of Government Information Services (OGIS)

Request OGIS Assistance

The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) serves as the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Ombudsman and provides a neutral perspective to resolve disputed between FOIA requesters and Federal agencies. Before contacting OGIS, we ask that you first try to resolve your concerns through the agency FOIA Requester Service Centers, agency FOIA Public Liaisons, and the FOIA administrative appeal process available to requesters.

Accordion

OGIS

  • Advocates for neither the requester nor the agency, but for the FOIA process to work as intended 
  • Provides FOIA dispute resolution services
  • Strives to work in conjunction with the existing request and appeal process
  • May become involved at any point in the FOIA administrative process

 

OGIS does not:

  • Enforce FOIA
  • Compel agencies to release documents or immediately respond to requests
  • Serve as a substitute or replacement for the FOIA administrative appeals process
  • Address requests that are already in litigation
  • Process or review FOIA requests and appeals
  • Provide assistance outside the realm of FOIA
  • Provide legal assistance
  • Make determinations or dictate resolutions to disputes
  • Advocate for a particular FOIA requester or a Federal agency
  • Serve in any role that compromises our impartiality as FOIA Ombudsman

 

 

Before contacting OGIS for assistance with a FOIA issue or dispute, we ask that you first try to resolve your concerns directly with the agency to which you submitted your FOIA request. All Federal agencies have resources in place to provide FOIA requesters with information on preparing and submitting requests or appeals and checking the status of pending requests. Contact information for all Federal agencies is available online at www.foia.gov.

Actions to take before requesting OGIS assistance may include:

  • Checking the status of your request via the agency's online FOIA portal or web page.

  • Contacting the agency's FOIA Requester Service Center.

  • Contacting the agency's FOIA Public Liaison (FPL) - All Federal agencies have an FPL, whose role is to explain the FOIA process and assist requesters with their FOIA requests at any stage of the administrative process.

  • Submitting a FOIA administrative appeal - OGIS is not a replacement or substitute for the FOIA administrative appeal process available to requesters. If you are at the stage in the FOIA process where you are able to file an appeal, we strongly encourage you to do so. By filing an appeal, you preserve your administrative rights and give the agency a chance to review and reconsider every part of its initial response

To request our assistance, please send us the following information:

  • a brief description of the difficulty you are experiencing with the FOIA process
  • a brief description of any prior actions you have taken to resolve your concerns directly with the agency
  • the name of the agency to which you submitted your request
  • the tracking number the agency assigned to your request
  • your name and contact information
     

Please send us copies of the following documents:

  • your FOIA request
  • the agency's response
  • your FOIA administrative appeal 
  • the agency's response to your appeal
  • privacy consent statement (if appropriate. For more information, please see below)

Privacy Consent Statement and Routine Uses

Because FOIA case files are generally protected by the Privacy Act, agencies must notify the public that OGIS can access these files before they share them with OGIS. Agencies do this by publishing a Privacy Act Systems of Records Notice (SORN) in the Federal Register that includes a routine use for OGIS.

The following agencies have published SORNs with routine use notices for OGIS. If you are requesting assistance with a FOIA dispute involving any of the following agencies, you DO NOT need to provide OGIS with a privacy consent statement before we can contact the agency to discuss your case.

Central Intelligence Agency Department of Justice Federal Labor Relations Authority Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau  Department of Labor Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board Securities and Exchange Commission
Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency  Department of State Federal Trade Commission Small Business Administration
Department of Agriculture  Department of Transportation General Services Administration Social Security Administration
Department of Commerce Department of the Treasury Merit Systems Board U.S. Agency for International Development
Department of Defense Department of Veterans Affairs National Endowment for the Humanities U.S. Postal Service
Department of Education Environmental Protection Agency National Science Foundation
U.S. Trade Representative 
Department of Health and Human Services Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Nuclear Regulatory Commission  
Department of Homeland Security Federal Communications Commission Office of Special Counsel  
Department of Housing and Urban Development  Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission  
Department of the Interior Federal Housing Finance Agency Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation  

Please do not send:

  • original documents
  • multiple copies of identical documents
  • documents unrelated to your FOIA request
  • checks

Send your documents and information by:

Email:   ogis@nara.gov
  or  
Fax:   202-741-5769
  or  
Mail:   Office of Government Information Services (OGIS)
National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001

If you have any questions about what you need to send, feel free to call us at 202-741-5770.

If we do not immediately answer your call, please leave us a voicemail message clearly stating

  • your name
  • contact information, and
  • the reason for your call.

We will return your call as quickly as possible. Please do not leave multiple voicemail messages about the same issue as it will slow down our ability to return calls. An increase in the demand for our services means there may be a delay in our response. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, and will address your request for assistance as soon as possible. 

    OGIS is guided by the provisions of the Administrative Dispute Resolution Act of 1996 (ADRA), 5 U.S.C. §§ 571-84, including the confidentiality provision. This guidance helps to ensure that OGIS can effectively and impartially work to facilitate resolutions of FOIA disputes through alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

    Confidentiality is a key to successful use of ADR. In the interest of promoting open and candid dialogue with all parties involved in a dispute, OGIS, at its discretion, may grant an express request to speak to the Office in confidence. At the same time, OGIS is committed to conducting proceedings in a manner that promotes openness and transparency. Notwithstanding the requirements of the ADRA and requirements protecting materials reflecting Office deliberations, OGIS will endeavor to make available as much information as lawfully possible.

    Click here to download a flyer on how to request OGIS assistance with a FOIA issue or dispute 

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