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 Filing a FOIA Request

How to file a FOIA request

Before making a request under FOIA, please make sure the information you seek is not already available on the OIG website, where you can download a variety of documents, including publicly released copies of OIG audit and inspection reports issued since October 1997, investigative summaries and selected reports, Semiannual Reports to Congress, congressional testimony, and records that have been frequently requested under FOIA.

To be accepted for processing, your FOIA request must:

1. Be in writing, include your full name, legible return address, and any other contact information you wish to provide (for example, an email address and a telephone number.

2. Reasonably describe the records sought. Whenever possible, your request should include specific information about the records. For example, include information such as the date and place the records were created, subject matter, the name and location of the OIG office where the records might be found, and other pertinent details that will help identify the records.

Please see the Department of Commerce FOIA regulations at 15 CFR §§ 4.1~4.11.

3. If requesting records about yourself, you must provide proof of your identity before we may begin processing your request. This requirement serves to protect your personal privacy and to prevent the unauthorized release of information to third parties. Proof of identity received via e-mail or fax will not be accepted.

You may verify your identity by one of the following methods:

  • Appear in person at our office at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, Room 7896, Washington DC 20230, and present satisfactory proof of identity.
  • Send the OIG a copy of your request that is accompanied by a certification of a notary public or equivalent officer empowered to administer oaths. The certification in or attached to your request should substantially include the text found here.
  • Send the OIG a statement of identity made under 28 U.S.C. § 1746, a law that permits statements to be made under penalty of perjury as a substitute for notarization. Please include your full name, current address, and the information requested, along with this statement in substantially the following form:
    • o   If executed outside the United States: “I declare (or certify, verify, or state) under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on (date). (Signature)”.
    • o   If executed within the United States, its territories, possessions, or commonwealths: “I declare (or certify, verify, or state) under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on (date). (Signature)”.
       

    Once we receive the request, we will acknowledge your request and contact you if we have any questions or need additional information. Please note that, unless you have not provided an e-mail address or requested another form of communication, OIG correspondence concerning your request will be typically sent via e-mail as a customer service.

    Where to file a FOIA request

    The Department of Commerce is organized into a number of agencies, divisions, and offices. These subdivisions are often referred to as "operating units." OIG is one of many operating units at the Department. Please note that each unit is responsible for maintaining its own records. You should send your FOIA request to the unit that you believe has the records you are seeking.

    1. If the records you seek are maintained by OIG, you should file your FOIA request using one of the following methods:

  • Send your request by mail, fax, or e-mail:
    • o   Mail: FOIA Officer, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room 7898C, Washington, DC 20230
    • o   Fax: 202.501.7335
    • o   Email: FOIA@oig.doc.gov
  • Fill out an Online FOIA Request Form.
  • Use the FOIAonline system to submit the request (account required).
  • 2. If the records you seek are maintained by a Department of Commerce component other than OIG, send your request directly to the operating unit that maintains those records. FOIA contacts for other Department components and for other federal agencies are available at the Department of Commerce FOIA Home Page.

    3. If you do not know which Department of Commerce component has the records you seek or you are seeking records from multiple Department components, send your request to the Departmental FOIA Officer, who will forward your request to the component(s) most likely to have responsive records. The address is Departmental FOIA Officer, Office of Privacy & Open Government, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Mail Stop 52010FB, Washington, DC 20230, Tel: 202.482.3842, Fax: 202.482.0827, Email: EFoia@doc.gov.

    Fees

    There is no initial fee to file a FOIA request.

    If the total charges due for processing a request are $20 or less, no fee will be charged.

    If the actual or estimated fee for processing a request exceeds $20, you will be notified, unless you have agreed in the FOIA request to pay an amount sufficient to cover the fees. The OIG will not continue processing your request until you have agreed in writing to pay the fee, which must be paid before we can send you copies of the requested records. If the fee is $250 or more, you must make an advance payment of all the fees before we can begin to process the request.

    Fees, which may be assessed for search, review, and/or duplication, will differ depending on the "category" of the requester. As provided in FOIA, there are four categories of requesters: commercial, educational, media, and other:

  • Commercial: Requesters who seek information to further their commercial, trade, or profit interests.
    be made in the filing of the initial FOIA request.
  • Educational: Requesters who seek information to further scholarly research (i.e., not for commercial use).
  • Media: Requesters who seek information to publish or broadcast news to the public.
  • Educational: Requesters who seek information to further scholarly research (i.e., not for commercial use).
  • Other: Requesters who do not fall under the "commercial" "educational" or "media" categories.
  • You may wish to identify your category or provide additional information to help us determine your free category. Please see the Department of Commerce FOIA regulations, 15 CFR §§ 4.1~4.11 for more details.

    Fees may be waived or reduced if disclosure of the information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government, and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester. A request for waiver of fees must be made in writing and should be made in the filing of the initial FOIA request.   

    How to file an appeal

    If you have received an adverse determination on an initial FOIA request or you have not received a timely response, you may file an appeal. Your appeal must be received within 30 calendar days of the date of OIG's initial response to your FOIA request, or, if you have not received a response, any time after the due date of the response, including the last extension. The due date for most requests is typically twenty working days after receipt of the request, though this may be extended in certain circumstances.

    All appeals must be made in writing, using one of these methods:

  • Send your request by mail, fax, or e-mail:
    • o   Mail: FOIA Officer, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room 7898C, Washington, DC 20230
    • o   Fax: 202.501.7335
    • o   Email: FOIA@oig.doc.gov
  • Use the FOIA online system to submit the request.
  •  

    Appeals should contain the following:

    1. A copy of the original request;

    2. A copy of the initial response letter, if any; and

    3. A statement of the reasons why the records requested should be made available and why the initial denial, if any, was in error.

    Please see the Department of Commerce FOIA regulations at 15 CFR §§ 4.1~4.11 for more details.

    If you seek additional information regarding how to file a FOIA request, would like to check on the status of your request, including the estimated date of completion, or have any other questions about the FOIA process, please contact Raman Santra, OIG FOIA Officer:

  • Mail: FOIA Officer, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room 7898C, Washington, DC 20230
  • Telephone: 202.482.5992
  •  Fax: 202.501.7335
  •  Email: FOIA@oig.doc.gov
     
  • Online FOIA Request Form