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Effective October 1, 1997, FOIA authorized the government to take 20 working days to make a releasability determination regarding your request. However, the clock does not begin until the activity that holds the record(s) you want receives your request and you comply with all the procedural requirements. Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays are not counted as work days. FOIA also authorizes the government to take an additional 10 working days under certain circumstances.
If your request is so complex or voluminous that it would be unreasonable to expect the government to be able to respond within 30 days, the FOIA requires that you be given an opportunity to reduce the scope of your request or develop a reasonable compromise as to when the government must respond. If you seek judicial relief because you exhausted your administrative remedies and still have not received a releasability decision, the court will consider the government's diligence, as well as your willingness to reasonably modify the scope of your request or negotiate a reasonable time frame to allow the government to issue a releasability decision.
Please understand that we receive a large number of requests and cannot always make a formal releasability determination or provide documents responsive to your request within the established time limits. For example requests for data submitted by a non-government source, such as a contractor or potential contractor, almost always take more than 60 days to process because we must comply with Presidential Executive Order 12600.
If we cannot make a substantive response within the initial 20 working days, we normally issue an interim response that includes the case number assigned to your request and the name and telephone number of someone you can contact about your request. If applicable, we also provide information on how to file an administrative appeal. We frequently use form letters for this purpose.