This is Part 2 of a 6 Part Blog Series on “How to Make a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) Request“. Please stay tuned for the other blogs for the full picture!
Step 2: Choose The Government Agency or Agencies To Request Documents
On either the federal or state level, there is not one central office that manages all FOIA or FOIL requests, so you must contact the department or agency itself. Even if you know that you need to obtain records from the USDA, it is helpful if you know the specific sub-agency, such as the Risk Management Agency (“RMA”) from which to obtain information on your livestock or crop insurance. Any federal records that are more than twenty-five years old are archived with the National Archives and Records Administration.
If you are unclear as to the department or agency to contact, you can call the Federal Citizen Information Center toll free at 1-800-FED-INFO to help you locate the right federal government agency. A list of general FOIA contacts is available with the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) at www.usdoj.gov/oip/foiacontacts.htm. In New York, the Committee of Open Government may be helpful in directing you to the correct New York governmental agency: One Commerce Plaza, 99 Washington Avenue, Suite 650, Albany, NY 12231 or (518) 474-2518.
This is an excerpt from my first book that I co-authored with Pat Dillon, an Iowa agriculture lawyer titled “Field Manual: Legal Guide for New York Farmers and Food Entrepreneurs” available on CreateSpace, Amazon, Kindle and iBooks. You can find out more about this book here.