As the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Ombudsman, one of OGIS’s important functions is to help FOIA requesters better understand how the FOIA process works. We do this by working directly with those who contact our office and by making a variety of resources available on our website
While many of the requests for assistance that we receive require that we mediate a dispute, other customers contact us with more basic questions about the FOIA process itself. If you have a question about the process, you can contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 1-877-684-6448 (we also receive questions by mail and fax—find out all of the ways to contact us here). These questions are generally answered within a couple of days by members of OGIS’s Mediation Team.
To improve public understanding of the FOIA process, we also have a great set of Resources available on our recently re-organized website. The OGIS Toolbox includes links to resources for FOIA requesters, like OGIS’s Best Practices for Filing FOIA Requests, a FOIA FAQ, and a chart that explains FOIA’s fee system. The OGIS Toolbox also includes our list of Additional FOIA Resources; this page includes links to and an explanation of both government and non-government resources that can be helpful to FOIA requesters.
It’s no secret that FOIA has its own vocabulary; if there is a FOIA word that you are curious about (just what is a Vaughn index, anyway?), check out our FOIA Glossary for a list of basic words or search our more extensive Library of FOIA terms.