44 CFR 5.55 - Appeal within FEMA of denial of request.
(a) A requestor denied access, in whole or in part, to FEMA records may appeal that decision within FEMA. All appeals should be addressed to the Headquarters FOIA Officer, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Washington, DC, 20472 regardless of whether the denial being appealed was made at Headquarters, in a field office, or by a Regional Administrator.
(b) An appeal must be received in the Headquarters FOIA Office no later than thirty calendar days after receipt by the requestor of the initial denial.
(c) An appeal must be in writing and should contain a brief statement of the reasons why the records should be released and enclose copies of the initial request and denial. The appeal letter should bear the legend, “FREEDOM OF INFORMATION APPEAL,” conspicuously marked on both the face of the appeal letter and on the envelope. FEMA has twenty workdays after the receipt of an appeal to make a determination with respect to such appeal. The twenty day time limit shall not begin to run until the appeal is received by the Headquarters FOIA Officer. Misdirected appeals should be promptly forwarded to that office.
(d) The Headquarters FOIA Officer will submit the appeal to the Deputy Administrator for final administrative determination.
(e) The Deputy Administrator shall be the deciding official on all appeals except in those cases in which the initial denial was made by him/her. If the Deputy Administrator made the initial denial, the Administrator will be the deciding official on any appeal from that denial. In the absence of the Deputy Administrator, or in case of a vacancy in that office, the Administrator may designate another FEMA official to perform the Deputy Administrator's functions.
(f) If an appeal is filed in response to a tentative denial pending locating and/or examination of records, as described in § 5.53(c), FEMA will continue to search for and/or examine the requested records and will issue a response immediately upon completion of the search and/or examination. Such action in no way suspends the time for FEMA's response to the requestor's appeal which FEMA will continue to process regardless of the response under this paragraph.
(g) If a requestor files suit pending an agency appeal, FEMA nonetheless will continue to process the appeal, and will furnish a response within the twenty day time limit set out in paragraph (c) of this section.
(h) If, on appeal, the denial of the request for records is in whole or in part upheld, the Deputy Administrator will promptly furnish the requestor a copy of the ruling in writing within the twenty day time limit set out in paragraph (c) of this section except as provided in § 5.55. The notification letter shall contain:
(1) A brief description of the record or records requested;
(2) A statement of the legal basis for nondisclosure;
(3) A statement of the name and title or position of the official or officials responsible for the denial of the initial request as described in § 5.54 and the denial of the appeal as described in paragraph (f) of this section, and
(4) A statement of the requestor's rights of judicial review.