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Your OGIS Request

The questionnaire on this page is available to assist you with your OGIS Request. Before submitting this request, you may wish to search the OGIS Library using the search box below to review any information currently available.

OGIS Library

Make an OGIS Request

This short series of questions will gather information about your issue to determine whether OGIS can assist you. It should take no more than 3 minutes and will provide OGIS with some information to open your case. If OGIS is able to assist with your request, you will be given the option to submit your request online.

OMB Control No. 3095-0068, Expires 11/30/2013

Have you already filed your Freedom of Information Act request? *
Did you request records about yourself *
What is the main reason you are contacting OGIS?

The amended Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. §552) (FOIA) allows agencies to charge certain fees in connection with the processing of FOIA requests. Though every agency has its own FOIA regulations that address FOIA fees, there is a uniform fee schedule and guidelines published by the Office of Management and Budget (available at 52 Federal Register 10,012) that applies to all agencies.

Many agencies send FOIA fee estimates to requesters in response to requests. This not only gives the requester an idea of how much it will cost to fulfill his or her request, but also gives the requester an opportunity to narrow the scope of the request to lower the costs. Providing a breakdown of the fee estimate is an OGIS FOIA best practice, and OGIS encourages all agencies to provide this information in fee estimate letters.

Fee waiver requests and fee category placement are areas in which OGIS has noticed some confusion. Requesters are obligated to provide certain information to agencies to obtain the favorable fee treatment that comes with certain fee categories including educational, non-commercial scientific or news media requesters. Additionally, if a requester believes the information in his or her request is in the public interest such that he or she should pay no fees at all, it is the requester’s obligation to provide specific information requesting a fee waiver. Be sure you have provided the necessary information for each separate and distinct fee request:
For favorable treatment by placement in the news media fee category, a requester must show he is:

  1. Seeking information that is in the public interest: here is where you explain why the general public (or some subset) is interested in what you're asking for; if you can cite to other news reports on the subject or explain how it might affect health/safety/welfare, that is often helpful;
  2. Using his editorial skill to turn the raw material into a distinct work: here is where you explain what you plan to write (article, report, etc); and,
  3. Distributing that work to an audience: state where you will publish this work and if you don't yet know, indicate where you plan to submit it for publication; your track record of past publication is helpful but not indicative of your current expectation of publication so you should add more than just that list you initially provided.

A fee waiver demands a much higher threshold for consideration than a fee category. To obtain a fee waiver you must show that disclosure of the information

  1. is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government, and
  2. is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.

After you have established those threshold requirements, the agency will consider six analytical factors in applying the statutory fee waiver standard. (You may want to factor in the below analysis the agency will undergo when drafting your fee waiver request.) In evaluating your fee waiver request, the agency will:

  1. Ensure the subject matter concerns identifiable “operations or activities of the government,”
  2. Ensure the information is meaningfully informative in relation to the subject matter of the request,
  3. Ensure the disclosure will contribute to “public understanding,”
  4. Ensure the disclosure will contribute “significantly” to public understanding of government operations or activities,
  5. Consider the requester’s identity and the circumstances surrounding the request, including whether there is a commercial interest, and
  6. Balance any potential commercial interest against the public interest in disclosure.

When filing a FOIA request, a requester may ask for “expedited processing” of that request, meaning the agency would process that request “as soon as practicable.” When a request for expedited processing is granted an agency will place the request ahead of other requests that have been pending in the queue awaiting assignment for processing.

Generally, to warrant expedited processing, a requester must demonstrate a “compelling need” by showing either that failure to obtain the records would pose an “imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual,” or, for a person “primarily engaged in disseminating information” (i.e., a representative of the news media), there is an “urgency to inform the public concerning actual or alleged Federal Government activity.” 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(E).
Most agencies address expedited processing in their regulations and requesters seeking that treatment should consult the agency regulation prior to drafting the request.

If you did not provide this information in your initial request, you may wish to contact the agency directly to provide this information in an appeal or to ask for reconsideration of the agency’s decision. You should be sure to provide this information to the agency prior to requesting OGIS assistance. If you are ready to request OGIS assistance now, feel free to contact us at ogis@nara.gov or (877) 684-6448 or fill in the information below and submit your request to OGIS.

What is the status of your request?
Please feel free to contact us at ogis@nara.gov or (877) 684-6448 or fill in the information below and submit your request.
As you may know, Congress created OGIS in the 2007 amendments to the Freedom of Information Act. Many first-party or Privacy Act requests do overlap with FOIA and include issues OGIS may be able to assist with by providing ombuds services. OGIS’s ombuds services may include providing information about the FOIA process and the status of requests. Because OGIS’s jurisdiction is solely within the FOIA, the office does not have a statutory role in reviewing policies, procedures and compliance with the Privacy Act, as with FOIA. Additionally, while OGIS serves as an ombudsman to assist with first-party records requests, the office can only help to ensure that process is working fairly. If you would like OGIS to provide ombuds assistance with your first-party or Privacy Act request, please feel free to contact us at ogis@nara.gov or (877) 684-6448 or fill in the information below and submit your request.
If your goal is to file a FOIA request to obtain records from a Federal agency, you can find user-friendly, step-by-step guides in Additional FOIA Resources. You can find a list of agencies’ FOIA contacts at:http://www.foia.gov/report-makerequest.html. Feel free to contact OGIS again if you have a problem after you have filed a FOIA request.
The appropriate time for OGIS to become involved in your FOIA request is after you have filed an appeal and either the agency has responded or the 20-day time to respond has expired. Please be sure that you have taken these steps and followed up with the agency's FOIA Public Liaison, whose role is to assist with resolving disputes. After you have done so, if you think OGIS can be of assistance, feel free to contact us at ogis@nara.gov or (877) 684-6448 or fill in the information below and submit your request.
FOIA requires that an agency respond to a FOIA request within 20 business days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays. This time period does not begin until the request is actually received by the agency's office that handles FOIA requests. If you have not received your response within the time frame, please first contact the agency's FOIA Public Liaison, whose role is to assist with resolving disputes. A list of agency Public Liaisons is available at http://www.foia.gov/report-makerequest.html. If you still need OGIS assistance please feel free to contact us at ogis@nara.gov or (877) 684-6448 or fill in the informaiton below and submit your request.
Have you contacted the agency FOIA Public Liaison?

A list of these persons is accessible at http://www.foia.gov/report-makerequest.html
Please contact our office at ogis@nara.gov or (877)684-6448

Before we can help you further, you should either file a request with the agency you believe is holding your records or contact that agency's FOIA Public Liaison. Every agency has a FOIA Public Liaison whose job it is to answer questions and assist you in making a request. A list of such persons is available at http://www.foia.gov/report-makerequest.html

Keep in mind that you request should be as specific and narrow as possible. You may want to consult the FOIA regulations for the agency to which you are submitting a request to ensure you provide all the necessary information. Agency regulations can be found on agencies’ own websites. Feel free to contact OGIS if you have a problem after you have filed a FOIA request or if you have further questions about filing your request, you can contact OGIS at 1-877-684-6448 or ogis@nara.gov.

FOIA requires that an agency respond to a FOIA request within 20 business days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays.

Has that time limit passed?
Please wait until the 20 business days have passed. If you have not received your response within the time frame, please first contact the agency’s FOIA Public Liaison, whose role is to assist with resolving disputes, please contact that person for assistance http://www.foia.gov/report-makerequest.html. After you have done so, if you still need OGIS assistance please feel free to contact us at ogis@nara.gov or (877) 684-6448.
An agency's FOIA Public Liaison exists to assist with resolving disputes, Please first contact that person for assistance at http://www.foia.gov/report-makerequest.html . After you have done so, if you still need OGIS assistance, please feel free to contact us at ogis@nara.gov or (877) 684-6448.
Have you filed an appeal?
OGIS is here to assist at any point in the process; however, we prefer that requesters complete the administrative appeal process to allow the agency a chance to reconsider its decision. Please file your appeal with the agency and feel free to come back to OGIS if you need additional assistance.
What happened?
Agencies have up to 20 days to respond to an appeal. If that time has passed please first contact the agency's FOIA Public Liaison whose role it is to assist in resolving disputes. A list of agency Public Liaisons is accessible at http://www.foia.gov/report-makerequest.html. After you have done so, if you think OGIS can be of assistance, please feel free to contact us at ogis@nara.gov or (877) 684-6448 or fill in the information below and submit your request.
How can OGIS be of assistance?
Additional Information

Please fill in the information below and submit your request to OGIS.

First Name *
Last Name *
Email Address *
Email Address (confirm) *
Telephone
What is the best way for us to reach you?
Very briefly, why do you need our help?
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