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Administrative Appeal Procedures

Secret Service must inform the requester of the reasons for the denial and the requester's right to appeal the denial to the head of the agency whenever a FOIA request is denied. A requester may appeal the withholding of a document or denial of a fee waiver request. A requester may contest the type or amount of fees that were charged, or may appeal any other type of adverse determination under the FOIA. A requester may also appeal because the agency failed to conduct an adequate search for the documents requested. However, a requester may not file an administrative appeal for the lack of a timely response.

A person may administratively appeal any portion denied when their request is granted in part and denied in part. An appeal does not affect the release of the documents that may be disclosed if the agency has agreed to disclose some but not all requested documents.

There is no charge for filing an administrative appeal. An appeal may be filed by sending a letter to:

Secret Service Appeals Attn: FOIA Appeals 245 Murray Lane Building T-5
Washington, D.C. 20223

The envelope containing the letter of appeal should be marked in the lower left hand corner with the words "Freedom of Information Act Appeal." The letter must identify the FOIA request that is being appealed, including the FOIA request number assigned by the Secret Service, the name and address of the requester. Inclusion of a telephone number and a copy of the Secret Service's initial decision letter is recommended, but not required for the appeal.

An appeal will normally include the requester's arguments supporting disclosure of the documents. A requester may include any facts or any arguments supporting the case for reversing the initial decision, although an appeal letter does not have to contain any arguments at all. It is sufficient to state that the agency's initial decision is being appealed. The FOIA regulations require that an appeal be postmarked within 90 days after the date of the letter denying access to the information and within 90 days of the date of other adverse determination. An administrative appeal for denial of a request for expedited processing must be made by letter postmarked within 10 days after the date of the response letter denying expedited processing.

Secret Service is required to make a decision on an appeal within 20 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays) after the date of receipt of the appeal. The FOIA requester shall be deemed to have exhausted administrative remedies and may proceed with a judicial appeal in a Federal District Court if the Secret Service fails to comply with the time limitations.