22 CFR § 171.15 - Administrative appeals.

§ 171.15 Administrative appeals.

(a) Requirements for making an appeal.

(1) Requesters may appeal any adverse determinations made on their FOIA request by the Department. Examples of adverse determinations are provided in § 171.13(e). The requester must make the appeal in writing and to be considered timely it must be postmarked, or in the case of electronic submissions, transmitted, within 90 calendar days after the date of the adverse determination. The appeal must clearly identify the component's determination that is being appealed and the assigned request number. To facilitate handling, the requester should mark both the appeal letter and envelope, or subject line of the electronic transmission, “Freedom of Information Act Appeal.”

(2) To appeal any adverse determinations made by A/GIS/IPS or a component other than OIG, requesters must submit an administrative appeal to the A/GIS/IPS FOIA Appeals Office using any of the following methods: by mail to the Appeals Officer, Office of Information Programs and Services (A/GIS/IPS), Room B–266, U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20520; by fax to (202) 485–1718; or by email to FOIAAppeals@state.gov.

(3) To appeal any adverse determinations made by OIG, requesters must submit an administrative appeal to OIG via email to foia@stateoig.gov, by fax to 703–284–1866, or by mail addressed to the FOIA Officer, Officer of General Counsel, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of State, 1700 N Moore Street, Suite 1400, Arlington, VA 22209. Contact information for OIG is available on OIG's FOIA website at www.stateoig.gov/foiaappeals. For those cases in which both A/GIS/IPS and OIG provided written denials to the requester, the requester may administratively appeal to both A/GIS/IPS and OIG and each office will handle its respective portion of the appeal.

(4) To appeal any adverse determinations made by the FSGB, requesters must submit an administrative appeal to A/GIS/IPS using the methods listed above in paragraph (2). A/GIS/IPS will assign a tracking number to the appeal and forward it to the FSGB, which is an independent body, for adjudication.

(b) Adjudication of appeals.

(1) The A/GIS/IPS Director or designee will act on behalf of the Assistant Secretary for Administration on all appeals of A/GIS/IPS FOIA determinations under this section. Likewise, the General Counsel of OIG or his/her designee will act on behalf of the Inspector General on all appeals of OIG FOIA determinations under this section.

(2) An appeal ordinarily will not be adjudicated if the request becomes a matter of FOIA litigation.

(c) Decisions on appeals. The Department must provide its decision on an appeal in writing. A decision that upholds the Department's determination in whole or in part must include a brief statement of the reason for the affirmance, including any FOIA exemptions applied. The decision must inform the requester that the decision represents the final decision of the Department; must advise the requester of the statutory right to file a lawsuit; and must inform the requester of the dispute resolution services offered by the Office of Government Information Services of the National Archives and Records Administration (OGIS) as a non-exclusive alternative to litigation. If a decision is remanded or modified on appeal, the requester will be notified in writing. The appropriate component will then further process the request in accordance with that appeal determination and respond directly to the requester.

(d) Engaging in dispute resolution services provided by OGIS. Dispute resolution is a voluntary process. If a component agrees to participate in the dispute resolution services provided by OGIS, it will actively engage as a partner to the process in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

(e) When appeal is required. Before seeking review by a court of the Department's adverse determination, a requester generally must first submit a timely administrative appeal.