We often find ourselves searching for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) contact information for various federal and state agencies. But before we provide you with the contact links to the various federal and state agency FOIA departments, we suggest the following procedures to expedite your request:
1. Create generic, fill-in-as-needed FOIA order forms on your firm’s letterhead. (There is no specific or official FOIA form with which to request the information that you seek.)
2. Flag the request for follow up in five to six weeks from send-in date if you have not received the requested information. (Although there is no set turnaround time in which an agency must fulfill a FOIA request, the standard time limit established by the FOIA is approximately one month. The timetable is dependent of the complexity of the request as well as the agency’s backlog. After this reasonable period of time has lapsed and (a) you have not received the requested information or (b) the agency has requested an extension to fulfill the request, you may want to re-submit an amended/updated version of the initial request, modifying the search criteria and/or information sought if the changes are not critical to your needs. Alternately, you may agree to an extended compliance period.
3. Be aware of an agency’s limitations is responding to your request. (Although a FOIA request can be made for any agency record, the directive does not require agencies to conduct research for you, to analyze data, to answer written questions, or to create records in response to a request.)
Obtaining FOIA records:
For Federal Agency FOIA Requests:
From the Department of Agriculture to the Tennessee Valley Authority to the USPTO, most agencies now accept FOIA requests electronically, including by web form, e-mail or fax. See the list of federal agencies for details about the methods of making a request at each agency and any specific requirements for seeking certain records.
For State Agency FOIA Requests:
(From the National Freedom of Information Coalition. Use the below tools to prepare your request.)
- State FOI Resources from NFOIC.
- Sample FOIA Request Letters for all states.
- FOI Hotlines across the country.
BNI Operatives: Street smart; info savvy.
As always, stay safe.