If you disagree with BPA’s application of the FOIA exemptions, or if BPA otherwise fails to meet its statutory obligations, you may file an administrative appeal with the Department of Energy, Office of Hearing and Appeals. You must file your appeal within 30 calendar days of receiving the BPA’s final response. If DOE rejects the appeal, you may sue BPA in federal court.
You may file an administrative appeal of “adverse determinations.” Under FOIA, adverse determinations include:
- Denial of a request for expedited processing.
- Assignment to a particular requester fee category.
- Denial of a request for reduction or waiver of fees.
- Denial of access to records in whole or in part through withholding or redaction.
- Determination that there are no records responsive to your request.
- The reasonableness of the search for responsive records.
Filing an Appeal
All appeals must be made in writing and addressed to the FOIA Appeals Officer. You may submit your appeal by electronic mail at OHA.email@example.com
, or by regular mail to:
Director, Office of Hearings and Appeals, HG-1,
Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue SW
Washington DC 20585.
Your appeal must include the following:
- Your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address.
- A copy of the initial request.
- A copy of the letter denying your request in whole or part.
- An explanation of the reasons why you disagree with our action. If you are appealing because you believe there are additional records, you must specify why you believe that records exist and, if possible, where you believe they might be located.
Please include the notation "Freedom of Information Act Appeal" on the front of your envelope and at the beginning of your appeal to ensure that your appeal is received without delay.
Your appeal will be decided within 20 working days of the receipt of your request by the Office of Hearings and Appeals. A decision will be sent to you in writing.
Denial of Appeals
If your appeal is denied and you believe that your FOIA request was not handled in accordance with the law, you may seek assistance from the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) of the National Archives and Records Administration. OGIS provides mediation services to resolve disputes between FOIA requesters and agencies. Information about OGIS is available here
You can also sue BPA in federal court; a judge will review the records (if any) and BPA’s actions to determine if FOIA request was properly handled.