When will I get a response to my FOIA request?
So, you send in a FOIA request, and don’t hear anything back for weeks. That’s a problem! In many states, a government agency is required by law to respond to your FOIA request within a certain number of days. For example, in Michigan, the government must respond within 5 business days of receiving your request, but the Federal government can take up to 20 days to get back to you. Keep in mind, "responding" doesn’t mean that they actually have to give you the info you asked for! It only means that they have to give you some sort of a reply (even if it’s rejecting your request or just letting you know they’re working on it).
NOTE: even if your request got sent to a spam folder, technically they received it.
If you don’t hear back from the government within the right time frame, that violates your rights. The best way to approach that situation is to check in with the government agency to make sure they got it. At the most extreme, if the government continues to ignore your request, you can take legal action.
To be efficient before you send in your FOIA track down who is the best person to send it to. By law, every government body has to designate someone as a “FOIA officer” who will accept all FOIA requests and figure out what to do with them. If you don’t send your FOIA to a specific person, your request could float around for days or weeks before landing on the right desk!
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Send your questions our way, and we'll have our team find you an answer. Keep in mind, we’re not actually your lawyers and aren’t representing you. We can definitely help clear some things up and give you some info, but if you need actual legal help for your situation, you should find a lawyer in your area. And don't worry, any information we collect is only for our own research, and we won’t share it or sell it to anyone.