Getting the Most Out of Your FOIA Request, Part Three
By Kimberly N. Epstein, Freedom of Information Act Officer
Know the subject. Before filing a request, browse ACF webpages online. You may be able to get the information you need online. If not, you will be able to provide information to help us respond.
Places to look. For awarded grants, look at Tracking Accountability in Government Grants Systems (TAGGS) at http://taggs.hhs.gov/. For upcoming ACF grant competitions, see Grants Forecast at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/hhsgrantsforecast/.
ACF office web pages are packed with information. For example, see the Office of Head Start at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ohs and http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc, the Children’s Bureau at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb and https://www.childwelfare.gov/ and the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre.
Provide details. Give us as much information as you can about the document you need. Give us the name of the program, name of the grantee, number of the grant, and date of the document. Ask for just what you need. The more specific and narrow the request, the quicker we can find and send you the document. If you have a question about how to write your request, call us at 1-888-747-1861. We will work with you to get you what you need.
Tell us how much you will pay. Law and regulations provide for fees for FOIA services. (See http://www.hhs.gov/foia/45cfr5.html). Fees depend on whether you are a business, a media organization, a non-profit organization or individual or whether you represent an educational or scientific institution. We won’t charge if the fee is below $25, so for narrow requests not requiring much search time, there may be no fee. Even so, let us know what you can pay so we can call you if it looks like the fees will be a lot higher.
Give us your contact information. We need your name and address to fill your request. Tell us who you represent in the request. A telephone number is very useful in case we have questions. If possible, we will send the response by email, so be sure to include an email address.
For more information, see the ACF FOIA webpage http://www.acf.hhs.gov/submit-a-foia-request, or call the FOIA Office at 1-888-747-1861.