How to Make a FOIA Request
The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) is committed to the principles of openness and transparency in making disclosure determinations, and it is OLMS policy to disclose information to the maximum extent practicable. A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request can be made for any agency record. This does not mean, however, that OLMS will disclose every record sought. There are statutory exemptions that authorize the withholding of information of an appropriately sensitive nature. When OLMS does withhold information from you, it ordinarily must specify what exemptions of the FOIA permits the withholding. You should be aware that the FOIA does not require agencies to do research for you, to analyze data, to answer written questions, or to create documents that cannot be reproduced without a reasonable amount of effort.
OLMS will respond to written requests received via the mail, fax, the Department’s FOIA Public Access Portal, or email. FOIA requests submitted via email must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. OLMS will not accept a request submitted to any other email address. Written requests may also be faxed to 202-693-1340 or mailed to the following address:
Office of Labor-Management Standards
U.S. Department of Labor - OLMS
200 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20210
You should include the notation "Attention: FOIA Request" on the front of your request envelope and also at the beginning of your request letter. In this way you will be sure that the responsible individual receives your request without delay.
In making your request, identify the documents you want as clearly as possible. The more precise and accurate the request, the more likely you are to get a complete, expeditious response. For example, include the following in your request:
- Office or Program that maintains the information
- Location of documents
- Time documents were probably created
- Case or file number, if applicable
- Your telephone number, email address, and mailing address
- Fee information (see below)
Fee: The FOIA Disclosure Officer can charge fees for processing FOIA requests. Therefore, specify the fee category in which you feel your request falls and the amount you are willing to pay. The FOIA divides requesters into four categories:
- Commercial use requesters may be charged fees for searching for documents, reviewing the documents, and duplication.
- Educational or noncommercial scientific institutions may be charged only for duplication, minus the first 100 pages.
- Representatives of the news media may be charged only for duplication, minus the first 100 pages.
- All other requesters may be charged fees for searching for documents and duplication, minus the first two hours of search time and the first 100 pages.
No charge will be made if the cost of collecting a fee would be equal to or greater than the fee itself; for the Department of Labor this amount is $5.00. In cases where no documents are located, and the requester falls into a category that must pay fees, OLMS is entitled to charge the requester for any applicable search time involved.
Fee Waivers: Fee waivers may be granted when disclosure of the documents is in the public interest and 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. When making a request for a fee waiver, consider the following: (1) Does the document concern the operations or activities of the government? (2) Is disclosure likely to contribute to the public understanding of these operations and activities? and (3) Will that contribution be significant? Requests for fee waivers must be fully documented and justified by written explanation.
Appeals: A person whose initial FOIA request for documents has been denied, either in part or in whole, or who has received a "no records" response, or whose request for a fee waiver has been denied, has the right to appeal the denial to the Solicitor of Labor within 90 days after receipt of notification of the denial. You may send your appeal by email to email@example.com or by mail to:
Solicitor of Labor
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20210
Attn: Freedom of Information Act Appeal
Time Limits: Agencies are required to respond to a FOIA request within 20 business days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays. This period does not begin until the request is actually received by the Disclosure Officer who has jurisdiction over the records sought. In specific situations, an additional 10-day extension may be granted in responding to a request. The FOIA provides for extensions of initial time limits under unusual circumstances, which are defined as (1) The need to search for and collect records from separate offices; (2) The need to consult with another agency or agency component; and (3) The need to examine a voluminous number of records required by the request.
OLMS uses a multitrack processing, three-queue system to distinguish between simple and more complex requests based on the amount of work and/or time needed to process a request – 250 pages or less (small queue), 251 pages to 500 pages (medium queue), or more than 501 pages (large queue). The small queue has the fastest rate of processing. Reducing the scope of your request so that it will fall within one of the smaller queues will allow you to lower search and duplication costs and hasten the receipt of information.
Public Records: It is OLMS policy not to search, review, or duplicate copies of a labor organization's constitutions and bylaws or disclosure reports filed with the Department of Labor. Pursuant to 29 CFR 70.53, these documents are public records. FOIA requests for public records are considered improper requests. Individuals can access and download public records from the OLMS Online Public Disclosure Room. If you have any questions, please contact OLMS at OLMS-Public@dol.gov or (202) 693-0123.
OLMS FOIA Requester Service Center: For questions concerning the FOIA request process, please contact OLMS at 202-693-0123 or OLMS-FOIA@dol.gov. Please note that this email address can be used to answer questions or provide advice only. DOL only receives initial FOIA requests via email at firstname.lastname@example.org; requests can also be faxed, mailed, or submitted online pursuant to the above procedures. You can also track your FOIA request at the Department's FOIA public portal.
- OLMS FOIA Reading Room
- Department of Labor FOIA Regulations, Effective January 23, 2017
- DOL Guide for Requesting FOIA Records
- The Freedom of Information Act - Including Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments, 1996
- Executive Order 13392
- DOL FOIA Page
- Annual FOIA Reports
- Quarterly FOIA Reports
Last Updated: 7-07-23