FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: ICYMI, how to improve FOIA requests according to OGIS

FOIA News (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Keep It Simple and Specific

OGIS Blog, May 17, 2017

Because we help resolve disputes between agencies and FOIA requesters, we see a broad sample of the kinds of requests that members of the public file with agencies. Seeing this range of requests also gives us a pretty good idea of what strategies seem to work well, and what seem to cause unintended problems.

One practice that seems to complicate requests is for a requester to put a lot of energy into describing why he or she wants the information.  One of the bedrock principles of the FOIA is that who you are or what you plan to do with the records is irrelevant – it has no bearing on whether an agency should release records to you (unless, of course, you are asking for your own records). In fact, unless you are asking for fees to be waived or to be categorized as a requester that is charged a minimal amount of fees (representative of the media, educational, or noncommercial scientific institution), or you seek expedited processing of your request, you are not required to tell the agency anything about yourself beyond your contact information.

Read more here.