Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Visit disclaimer page is a federal statute that allows individuals to request access to federal agency records, except to the extent records are claimed as exempt from disclosure under one or more of the nine (9) exemptions of the Freedom of Information Act. If you have any questions or concerns regarding FOIA, please feel free to send an email to FOIA@acf.hhs.gov.

ACF FOIA is exercising maximum telework flexibility per OMB guidance. Requests submitted by mail or fax may not be processed until staff physically returns to the office. Please use the recommended Public Access Link (PAL) Visit disclaimer page  instead to submit your requests. Please note that email is not considered to be sufficiently secure to safely transmit sensitive information, such as identity verification information.

Learn more with FOIA Frequently Asked Questions Visit disclaimer page


FOIA at ACF

How to Submit a FOIA Request

Any individual, partnership, corporation, association, public or private organization other than a Federal agency, regardless of nationality, may submit a FOIA request to us. This also includes state and local governments.

Provide a written description of the records you seek in sufficient detail to enable our staff to locate them with a reasonable amount of effort. The more information that you provide, the greater the possibility we have of finding the records you are seeking. The information that you provide to assist us with locating the records should include:

  • The agencies, offices, or individuals involved;
  • The approximate date(s) when the records were created;
  • The subject, title, or description of the records sought; and
  • Author, recipient, case number, file designation, or other reference number, if available.
  • Include your name, full mailing address, phone number and, if available, your email address. This information allows us to reach you faster if we have any questions about your request. It is your responsibility to keep your current mailing address up to date with the office where you have filed the FOIA request.
  • State your willingness to pay all fees, or the maximum amount of fees you are willing to pay, and/or include a request for a fee waiver/reduction.
  • Mark both your letter and envelope, or the subject line of your email, with the words ’’FOIA Request.’’

ACF strongly suggests submitting your request electronically by:

 

    If you have questions concerning the processing of your FOIA request, you may contact the ACF FOIA Director or ACF FOIA Liaison.

    Fees

    There are no fees associated with submitting a request. However, departmental regulations allow us to recover part of the cost associated with processing FOIA requests, which include the search, review, duplication, reproduction, copying of other media, mailing and special deliveries, and certification of records.  FOIA divides requesters into three categories:

    1. commercial use requesters,
    2. news media, educational or scientific requesters, and
    3. all other requesters. 

    When addressing the fees associate with your request, you may specify a limit on the amount you are willing to spend. We will notify you if it appears that the fees will exceed $25.00 or your specified limit; and ask whether you want us to proceed with the search. You may receive the opportunity to narrow your request in order to reduce the fees, or you may be asked to confirm your commitment to pay the estimated amount.

    Fee Waiver Info

    Requesters may seek a waiver of fees by submitting a written application demonstrating how disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest. Meaning, it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.                

    The application for reduced fees and fee waivers should occur when you first submit your FOIA request, and it should address how the information requested will contribute to public interest.    

    Appeals Process

    After you receive a determination on your FOIA request, you can administratively appeal.  You may file an administrative appeal for any of the following reasons.

    • If you are not satisfied with ACF’s initial response to your request.
    • If you disagree with the withholding of information, or if you believe that there are additional records responsive to your request that ACF failed to locate.
    • A determination has been made that your request was not reasonably  described.
    • A determination has been made that a record does not exist or cannot be located.
    • A determination has been made that the requested information is not a record subject to the FOIA.
    • You disagree with a determination regarding the charging of a fee.
    • You believe your request was not responded to in the time stipulated by the FOIA regulations.
    • You also may file an administrative appeal if you have requested expedited processing or a fee waiver and been denied.

    You should be advised of your right to file an appeal in the initial determination letter sent by ACF or in a letter denying your request for expedited processing or a fee waiver. Your appeal must be received within 90 days of the date of ACF's determination letter.

    All appeals must be made in writing and addressed to:

    Ms. Carol Maloney
    Deputy Agency Chief FOIA Officer
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Room 729H

    200 Independence Avenue, S.W.

    Washington, DC 20201

    Please clearly mark both the envelope and your letter “Freedom of Information Act Appeal.”

    Litigations

    Under the FOIA and the Administrative Procedure Act, a requester may litigate when he or she believes that the agency has improperly withheld agency records that should have been disclosed. In addition, requesters may litigate over fee questions (such as when the agency charges excessive fees or denies a fee waiver) or any other agency decision that impairs the requester’s ability to obtain the requested information (for example, excessive delay, unreasonable interpretation of the request, inadequate search for records, etc.).

    If you are not satisfied with the agency’s decision on your FOIA request or if the agency has been nonresponsive, you have the right to file a lawsuit in federal court under the FOIA. Often, litigation will produce a strict schedule for review of the records and additional review by different agency officials of the agency’s exemption claims.

    Grants

    Grants are frequently requested in our office. To better service the public, It is best to share ways to access information along with sharing the grant process, here at ACF FOIA.

    TAGS is a great resource to use for grants; we usually recommend if you are seeking award information. It tracks and reports the grant dollars that HHS awards each year. If you are looking for information,

    Check out our Tracking Accountability in Government Grants System (TAGGS) Tutorial Visit disclaimer page  to find grant award information.

    ACF FOIA uses the following procedure to process grant requests:

    • Receive grant request from requester
    • Draft “Pre-Disclosure Notice” to inform grant requester and submitter  of receipt 
    • 10 Day waiting period for submitter to respond 
    • Complete all necessary changes
    • Draft “Notice of Intent Letter” to share with submitter 
    • 5 Day waiting period for response 
    • Prepare our final response and send the responsive records to the requester

    ACF FOIA Contact Information

    Administration for Children and Families
    FOIA Office
    330 C Street, SW, 4th Floor
    Washington, DC 20201

    Phone Number: 1-888-747-1861
    Fax Number: 202-401-4829
    Email Address: FOIA@acf.hhs.gov

    ACF FOIA Officer: Celeste Smith
    ACF FOIA Liaison: Kenneth Wolfe  

    The Public Access Link (PAL)

    We strongly encourage you to submit FOIA requests electronically by:

    • Emailing your FOIA Request to FOIA@acf.hhs.gov.
    • Submitting electronically through The Public Access Link (PAL) Visit disclaimer page  which allows you to submit FOIA requests any time. Create a PAL account to submit a request, check the status of a request, and download ACF’s response.
    Last Reviewed Date:
    Was this page helpful?