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Freedom of Information Act - Privacy Act Explained

Part 2 of a 4-part series

By Philip John Fairchild, POW

Step Two: The Appeal

If the agency does not agree to release the requested records within the mandated ten working days, or you do not believe the exemptions claimed are valid, then file your appeal directly to the Office of Information and Privacy. Usually an agency will send back the standard "ten day letter reply." The ten day letter reply is an acknowledgement that the agency has received your letter and that it is processing your request. What the agency is really hoping for is that you will lose interest and abandon your request.

Most FOIA/PA request end at this point, simply because the agency successfully stalls the requestor and the requestor hasn't a clue as what to do next.

You must give the agency ten working days to act before filing an appeal to the Office of Information and Privacy. The following is the basic format for an appeal letter. It should also be sent certified, registered return receipt. Keep a copy for your files.

(Example #2)

Office of Information and PrivacyXXXXXXXXXXXXXXApril 14, 1997
U. S. Department of Justice
Suite 570, Flag Bldg.
Washington, D. C. 20530


Dear Sir/Madam, 

This is an appeal from the denial of records by the Bureau of Prisons, Central Office, as noted in the attached request and for the following reasons and facts:

1. On March 17, 1997, I mailed a request for records to the Central Office of the Bureau of Prisons. A copy of that request is attached to this appeal. I have not received any responsive records, nor have I received a determination on my request.

2. The Bureau of Prisons has failed to comply with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act regarding release of records.

3. The Bureau of Prisons has exceeded the statutory time limits for providing the records requested.

Therefore, and for the above reasons and facts, it is evident that the Bureau of Prisons has denied me access to records and documents to which I am entitled under the statutes. This appeal is being submitted in a good faith attempt to obtain compliance by the Bureau of Prisons to the statutory provisions of the FOIA/PA regarding disclosure and to avoid the costs of litigation.

Please instruct the Bureau of Prisons, Central Office to furnish the records as requested. I would also appreciate your compliance with Section 552(a)(6)(A)(ii) regarding the response time to this appeal.

Respectfully submitted,


For a complete copy of the "FOIA/PA Explained" series in downloadable PDF format CLICK HERE

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