oig masthead, logo, commerce

Search our Site:
FOIA Statute, 5 USC §552
Commerce FOIA Regulations (15 CFR §§ 4.1~4.11)
Online FOIA Request Form
FOIA Contacts
OIG FOIA Requester Service Center/Liasion
Additional FOIA Resources
Sample FOIA Request Letter
Sample Verification of Identity Certification
home :: Freedom of Information Act :: Filing a FOIA Request

Filing a FOIA Request

This page contains the following information:
How to file a FOIA request
Where to file a FOIA request
How to file an appeal
On-line FOIA Request Form

How to file a FOIA request

Before making a request under the FOIA, please make sure the information you seek is not already available at OIG Publications, where you can download a variety of documents, including publicly released copies of OIG audit and inspection reports issued since October 1997, Semiannual Reports to Congress, and congressional testimony.

To be accepted for processing, your FOIA request should meet the following criteria:
1. Be in writing and signed by the person making the request (if sending via mail or fax).
2. Reasonably describe the records being requested. For example, include information such as the date and place the records were created, subject matter, and other pertinent details that will help identify the records.
3. Identify the "category" of the requester so that the OIG may determine the appropriate fees for the request. As provided in the FOIA, there are four categories of requesters: commercial, educational, media, and other.

  • Commercial: A requester who seeks information to further his or her commercial, trade, or profit interests.
  • Educational: A requester who seeks information to further scholarly research (i.e., not for commercial use).
  • Media: A requester who seeks information to publish or broadcast news to the public.
  • Other: Requesters who do not fall under the "commercial" "educational" or "media" categories.
  • Please see the Department of Commerce FOIA regulations at 15 CFR §§ 4.1~4.11.

    4. If requesting records about yourself, you must provide proof of your identity to the OIG by sending a copy of your request that is certified by a notary public or equivalent officer empowered to administer oaths, attesting that you appeared before the notary and established your identity to his or her satisfaction, and stating the date and place of your appearance. This requirement serves to protect your personal privacy and to prevent the unauthorized release of information concerning you to third parties.
    Sample Verification of Identity Certification

    Where to file a FOIA request

    The Department of Commerce is organized into a number of agencies, divisions and offices. These subdivisions are often referred to as "components." The OIG is one of many components at the Department. Please note that each component is responsible for maintaining its own records. Therefore, you should send your FOIA request to the component that you believe has the records you are seeking.

    1. If the records you seek are maintained by the OIG, you should file your FOIA request using one of the following methods:
    (a) Send your request by mail, fax, or e-mail to:
      FOIA Officer
      Office of Inspector General
      US Department of Commerce
      1401 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room 7892
      Washington, DC 20230
      Tel: (202) 482-5992
      Fax: (202) 501-7335
      E-mail: FOIA@oig.doc.gov
    (b) Fill out an On-line FOIA Request Form.

    2. If the record you seek is maintained by a Department of Commerce component other than the OIG, you should send your request directly to the component that maintains those records. FOIA contacts for other Department components and for other federal agencies are available at the Department of Commerce FOIA Home Page.

    US Department of Commerce FOIA Home Page

    3. If you do not know which Department of Commerce component has the records you seek or you are seeking records from multiple Department components, you should send your request to the Departmental FOIA Officer, who will forward your request to the component(s) most likely to have responsive records.

      Departmental FOIA Officer
      Office of Management and Organization
      US Department of Commerce
      1401 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room 5327
      Washington, DC 20230
      Tel: (202) 482-3707
      Fax: (202) 219-8979
      E-mail: FOIA@oig.doc.gov


    There is no initial fee to file a FOIA request.

    If the total charges due for processing a request are $20 or less, no fee will be charged.

    If the estimated fee for processing a request exceeds $20, the requester shall be notified, unless the requester has agreed in the FOIA request to pay an amount sufficient to cover the estimated fees. Fees will differ depending on the "category" of the requester. Please see Section 1, "How to File a FOIA Request" above, and the Department of Commerce FOIA regulations, 15 CFR §§ 4.1~4.11, for more details.

    Fees may be waived or reduced if disclosure of the information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government, and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester. A request for waiver of fees should be made in the filing of the initial FOIA request.

    Sample FOIA Request Letter

    How to file an appeal

    Your appeal must be received within 30 days of the date of the OIG's initial response to your FOIA request or, if you have not received a response, any time after the due date of the response, including the last extension.

    All appeals must be made in writing and addressed to:

      Assistant General Counsel for Administration
      Office of General Counsel
      US Department of Commerce
      1401 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room 5875
      Washington, DC 20230

    Both the front of the envelope and the appeal letter should contain the notation "Freedom of Information Act Appeal" and the appeal should contain the following:

    1. A copy of the original request;
    2. A copy of the initial response letter, if any; and
    3. A statement of the reasons why the records requested should be made available and why the initial denial, if any, was in error.

    Please see the Department of Commerce FOIA regulations at 15 CFR §§ 4.1~4.11 for more details.

    Online FOIA Request Form
    Site Map   Privacy Policy   Information Quality   Disclaimer
    Department of Commerce   USA.gov   IGNET: Federal Inspectors General   Government Accountability Office     Other Links
    U.S. Department of Commerce • Office of Inspector General • 1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W. • Washington, D.C. 20230
    [PDF] denotes a file in Adobe's Portable Document Format. To view these files, you will need Acrobat Reader, which is available free from Adobe.