How to File an Appeal
FOIA provides requesters with the right to file an appeal from an agency’s denial of a request. 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i). If you receive a response to a FOIA request that results in the denial of information, either by citing an exemption to FOIA, by stating that the agency does not have any responsive records or by stating the agency cannot confirm or deny the existence of records, you may appeal that denial. An agency’s final response letter should contain information on where to send the appeal and give the time limit for filing the appeal. That information should also be available on agencies’ FOIA web pages or by calling agencies’ FOIA Service Centers. This information is agency-specific, so you will want to confirm it for the agency at issue prior to filing the appeal.
In your appeal, you should state that you are appealing the agency’s release determination and reference the agency’s FOIA request number and the date of the correspondence. You may also set forth why you believe the agency’s response was improper and explain why you believe you should receive the records requested. After submitting your appeal, you should receive an acknowledgment from the agency that it has been received and you may be assigned a FOIA appeal number that is separate from your FOIA request number. You should reference that number when contacting the agency to check the status of your appeal.