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Sample Letter for Making a Freedom of Information Request
Freedom of Information Officer [See list
of FOI Officers for telephone numbers]
Dear Freedom of Information Officer:
This is a formal request by insert your name or your organizations name under the District of Columbia Freedom of Information Act for all records held by insert name of the Department or agency and all its offices or subdivisions pertaining to insert name or address of entity, or describe the issue or matter fully (but not restrictively), for the period insert date to the present (or other date). These records should include all contracts, drafts, memoranda, staff memoranda, and correspondence, as well as any other papers.
Under the terms of the D.C. Code, Section 2-532(c) and (d), insert "I" or "we" expect to be able to inspect these records within ten working days, unless there are unusual articulable circumstances under which the Department would require more than ten days to locate these files. Under Section 2-532 (b), insert "I" or "we" request that these documents be furnished without charge on the grounds that such a waiver of the fee "is in the public interest because furnishing the information can be considered as primarily benefiting the general public."
When these records are available, you may call me at insert your telephone number.
Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.
Explanation of paragraphs
This is fairly standard language for filing a freedom of information request with the District government. The request should be addressed to the Freedom of Information officer at the department or agency from whom you want the information. If the freedom of information officer is not listed on this page, call the office of the director of the department or agency. Also, send a copy of your request to the departments director. If there are several departments or agencies involved in the matter about which you want information, you must send separate letters to each departments freedom of information officer.
This is just a form; do not hesitate to modify it to fit your particular freedom of information request. The first paragraph simply states that it is a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act. This is what legally requires the agency to respond. Make the description of your request comprehensive, so that the responding agency will not be able to withhold information. (That is why, for example, the last sentence of this paragraph lists all the different types of paperwork.)
The second paragraph lets the department know that you are aware of the time limit on their response, and asks for a waiver of the fee. The fee waiver is important, since costs can be substantial. If you can reasonally argue that release of the information will benefit the general public, request the waiver.
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