This is Part 4 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 4: Wait for Government Response
Federal governmental agencies are required to respond to FOIA requests within twenty business days, excluding weekends and holidays, beginning from receipt of the request. However, the government is not required to send you the requested documents within twenty (20) days; instead, the government will likely send you written confirmation of its intent to comply with the request within a reasonable time. In this letter, the government agency might also give you a figure of estimated costs where you are required to agree or cancel the request. If the files are urgent, then you can specifically request that your FOIA request be expedited (include the reasons for the urgency).
In some cases, there is a faster turnaround for requests to New York agencies. NY Public Officers Law § 89(3) requires that a state agency either grant or deny access to the FOIL request in whole or in part, or if more time is needed, to minimally acknowledge the receipt of the request in writing within five (5) business days. This acknowledgment must include an approximate return date that the agency will either grant or deny the request. This date must be “reasonable under the circumstances” but is typically within twenty (20) business days.
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.