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.
Congress created OGIS to serve as the FOIA Ombudsman. We assist the public and Federal agencies by helping them resolve their FOIA disputes, and by addressing their questions and concerns about the FOIA process.
- 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
An Ombudsman is a designated neutral that facilitates the informal resolution of concerns. As the FOIA Ombudsman, OGIS works with FOIA requesters and Federal agencies to explore and determine the existing options to resolve FOIA issues. Our primary objective is to advocate for a fair and efficient FOIA process for requesters and Federal agencies.
OGIS listens to inquiries and complaints and helps to identify procedures, options, and resources for FOIA requesters and Federal agencies. OGIS is available to clarify FOIA policies, and to serve as an alternate channel of communication between FOIA requesters and Federal agencies.
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 (if possible, please include a phone number or email with your submission. This information will allow us to reach you faster if we have any questions about your request.)
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
- a completed and signed privacy consent form or statement (if appropriate. For more information, please see Privacy Consent Statement).
Please do not send:
- original documents
- multiple copies of identical documents
- documents unrelated to your FOIA request
Send your documents and information by:
|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,
- your contact information,
- the reason for your call, and
- your OGIS case number (if you have a case with our office).
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.
As the FOIA Ombudsman, OGIS advocates for the FOIA process to work as intended. OGIS does not advocate for the FOIA requester or the Federal agency involved in a dispute. OGIS does not take sides on any issues. OGIS maintains a neutral position and works to resolve matters by clarifying issues and procedures, facilitating discussions, and identifying options and resources.
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.