§ 5.22 What do I include in my FOIA request?

In your FOIA request:

(a) 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 you provide, the better possibility we have of finding the records you are seeking. Information that will help us find the records would include:

(1) The agencies, offices, or individuals involved;

(2) The approximate date(s) when the records were created;

(3) The subject, title, or description of the records sought; and

(4) Author, recipient, case number, file designation, or other reference number, if available.

(b) Include your name, full mailing address, and 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.

(c) 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.

(d) Mark both your letter and envelope, or the subject line of your email, with the words “FOIA Request.”

(e) If you are unable to submit a written request to us due to circumstances such as disability or literacy, you may make a request orally to a FOIA Officer. FOIA Officers will put in writing an oral request made directly to them.

(f) If you are making a first-party request, you must comply with the verification of identity procedures set forth in 45 CFR part 5b.

(g) Where your request for records pertains to another individual, you may receive greater access by submitting either a notarized authorization signed by that individual or a declaration made in compliance with the requirements set forth in 28 U.S.C. 1746 by that individual authorizing disclosure of the records to the requester, or by submitting proof that the individual is deceased (e.g., a copy of a death certificate or an obituary). At our discretion, we may require you to supply additional information if necessary to verify that a particular individual has consented to disclosure of records about them.

(h) If you are requesting the medical records of an individual other than yourself from a government program that pays or provides for health care (e.g. Medicare, Indian Health Service) and you are not that individual's legally authorized representative, you should submit a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant release authorization form signed by the subject of records or the individual's legally authorized representative. The HIPAA Privacy Rule requires that an authorization form contain certain core elements and statements which are described in the Privacy Rule's requirements at 45 CFR 164.508. If you are submitting a request for Medicare records to CMS, CMS has a release authorization form at the following link: ttps://www.cms.gov/Medicare/CMS-Forms/CMS-Forms/Downloads/CMS10106.pdf.

(i) Before filing your request, you may find it helpful to consult the HHS FOIA Requester Service Centers online at http://www.hhs.gov/foia/contacts/index.html, which provides additional guidance to assist in submitting a FOIA request to a specific OpDiv or StaffDiv or to regional offices or divisions within an OpDiv or StaffDiv. You may also wish to check in the agency's electronic FOIA libraries available online at http://www.hhs.gov/foia/reading/index.html, to see if the information you wish to obtain is already available.