22 CFR § 503.3 - Availability of agency records.

§ 503.3 Availability of agency records.

(a) Release of records. If we have released a record or part of a record to others in the past, we will ordinarily release it to you also. This principle does not apply if the previous release was an unauthorized disclosure. However, we will not release it to you if a statute forbids this disclosure and we will not necessarily release it to you if an exemption applies in your situation and did not apply or applied differently in the previous situation.

(b) Denial of requests. All denials are in writing and describe in general terms the material withheld and state the reasons for the denial, including a reference to the specific exemption of the FOIA authorizing the withholding or deletion. The denial also explains your right to appeal the decision and it will identify the official to whom you should send the appeal. Denial letters are signed by the person who made the decision to deny all or part of the request, unless otherwise noted.

(c) Unproductive searches. We will make a diligent search for records to satisfy your request. Nevertheless, we may not be able always to find the records you want using the information you provided, or they may not exist. If we advise you that we have been unable to find the records despite a diligent search, you will nevertheless be provided the opportunity to appeal the adequacy of the Agency's search. However, if your request is for records that are obviously not connected with this Agency or your request has been provided to us in error, a “no records” response will not be considered an adverse action and you will not be provided an opportunity to appeal.

(d) Appeal of denials. You have the right to appeal a partial or full denial of your FOIA request. To do so, you must put your appeal in writing and address it to the official identified in the denial letter. Your appeal letter must be dated and postmarked within 30 calendar days from the date of the Agency's denial letter. Because we have some discretionary authority in deciding whether to release or withhold records, you may strengthen your appeal by explaining your reasons for wanting the records. However, you are not required to give any explanation. Your appeal will be reviewed by the Agency's Access Appeal Committee that consists of senior Agency officials. When the Committee responds to your appeal, that constitutes the Agency's final action on the request. If the Access Appeal Committee grants your appeal in part or in full, we will send the records to you promptly or set up an appointment for you to inspect them. If the decision is to deny your appeal in part or in full, the final letter will state the reasons for the decision, name the officials responsible for the decision, and inform you of the FOIA provisions for judicial review.