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Model Language for Agency Response Letters

OGIS Standard Language to include in Agency Response Letters


Under the new law, agencies must notify requesters of their right to pursue alternative dispute resolution at three points in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process. The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), the FOIA Ombudsman’s office, suggests language for your agency’s template letters below. Be sure to check out the Office of Information Policy's guidance regarding the new required notification. 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 have the right to file an administrative appeal within 90 days of the date of this letter. By filing an appeal, you preserve your rights under FOIA and give the agency a chance to review and reconsider your request and the agency’s decision.

If you would like to discuss our response before filing an appeal to attempt to resolve your dispute without going through the appeals process, you can contact our FOIA Public Liaison [NAME] for assistance at:

[MAILING ADDRESS]

[TELEPHONE NUMBER]

[EMAIL ADDRESS]

If you are unable to resolve your FOIA dispute through our FOIA Public Liaison, 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. The contact information for OGIS is:

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

877-684-6448

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, offers services to resolve disputes between FOIA requesters and Federal agencies as a non-exclusive alternative to litigation. Using OGIS services does not affect your right to pursue litigation. You may contact OGIS in any of the following ways:

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:


If you dispute this response you may contact our FOIA Public Liaison [NAME] to discuss your request at:

[MAILING ADDRESS]

[TELEPHONE NUMBER]

[EMAIL ADDRESS]

You may also wish to contact the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), the Federal FOIA Ombudsman’s office, which offers services to help resolve disputes between FOIA requesters and Federal agencies. The contact information for OGIS is:

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

877-684-6448