The ABA Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Presents:
Freedom of Information Act Workshop

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FOIA: Considerations for Practitioners

Daniel Epstein, Executive Director

Read agency FOIA regulations

  • Where do I send the request?
  • What is the method of transmission?
  • What is the fee schedule?
  • What is the deadline to appeal a response?

Are the docs you want already publicly available?

Be specific: This is not a discovery request

  • Provide dates, search terms, and names of agency employees, if possible.
  • Examples:
    • “The work calendars of TIGTA Inspector General J. Russell George from March 1, 2012 to July 31, 2013.”
    • “All documents regarding Mr. Edwards’ official travels for site checks or any other purpose, including the names of any individuals who accompanied Mr. Edwards from February 27, 2011 to the present.”
  • Document follow-up with agency in writing.




FOIA for communications with Congress (because you can’t FOIA Congress directly)

FOIA Congress

Ask different agencies for the same type of documents


How do agencies define terms?


Ethical/practical considerations of using FOIA while in litigation with an agency

According to the Department of Justice:

“[T]here simply exists no statutory or other legal prohibition against using the FOIA to supplement civil, criminal or administrative discovery in pending cases.”

-DOJ, FOIA Update Vol. VI, No. 3 (1985)