4-4.26 Writing the Response

  1. General. All requests must be responded to in writing. Records custodians may contact their area Law Department with legal questions concerning a response. Records custodians are also encouraged to contact their FOIA coordinator (see Exhibit 4-4.27). Records custodians may also consult the FOIA RSC regarding procedural questions. However, it is the responsibility of the records custodian to draft the response letter.
  2. Grants of Requests. If a request is granted in whole or in part, a written response must accompany the records that the custodian chooses to release. The response must include a statement notifying the requester of his or her right to seek assistance from the appropriate FOIA Public Liaison (see 4-4.26.e). A list of FOIA public liaisons can be found here: https://about.usps.com/who-we-are/foia/service-centers.htm. In addition, the letter must inform the requester of any fees charged (see 4-4.13). Any responsive non-exempt records withheld on the basis of non-payment of fees must be released promptly upon the requester’s payment of fees.
  3. Adverse Determinations, Decisions Included. If a records custodian makes an adverse determination on any aspect of a request, he or she must notify the requester of that determination in writing. Many determinations regarding a request may constitute an adverse determination, including a determination that:
    1. The requested record is exempt from disclosure in whole or in part (see 4-4.23 and 4-4.24);
    2. The request does not reasonably describe the records sought (see 4-4.9);
    3. The information requested is not a record subject to the FOIA (see 4-4.5.d);
    4. The requested record does not exist, cannot be located, or has been destroyed; or
    5. The requested record is not readily reproducible in the form or format sought by the requester.

    Denials of fee waivers (see 4-4.13 and 39 CFR 265.9) and denials of requests for expedited processing (see 4-4.17) also constitute adverse determinations.

  4. Adverse Determinations, Response Letter. Regarding a request or a portion of a request for which a records custodian makes an adverse determination, the accompanying response letter must include:
    1. The name and title or position of the person responsible for the denial;
    2. A brief statement of the reasons for the denial, including any exemption applied by the component in denying the request and how the exemption applies to the withheld material (see 4-4.23 and 4-4.24);
    3. A statement that the denial may be appealed and a description of the requirements for filing such an appeal (see 4-4.28 and 39 CFR 265.8);
    4. A statement notifying the requester of his or her right to seek dispute resolution services from the FOIA Public Liaison or the Office of Government Information Services;
    5. An estimate of the volume of any records or information withheld, such as the number of pages or some other reasonable form of estimation, unless:
      1. The volume of withheld records is otherwise indicated by redactions marked on disclosed records; or
      2. Providing an estimate would harm any interest protected by an applicable exemption. For example, if an individual requests a third party’s disciplinary records, but the records are withheld under Exemption 6, it would hurt the protection of the third party’s privacy interests to state that a disciplinary file does exist but was withheld (see 4-4.12).
  5. Sample Appeal Language. Adverse determinations must include appeal rights language, such as:
  6. “If you are not satisfied with the response to your request, you may file an administrative appeal by writing to the General Counsel, United States Postal Service, 475 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, DC 20260–1101, or by email at FOIAAppeal@usps.gov. Your appeal must be postmarked or, in the case of electronic submissions, submitted within 90 calendar days of the date of this letter. The letter of appeal must include, as applicable:

    1. A copy of the request, of any notification of denial or other action, and of any other related correspondence;
    2. The FOIA tracking number assigned to the request;
    3. A statement of the action, or failure to act, from which the appeal is taken;
    4. A statement identifying the specific redactions to responsive records that the requester is challenging;
    5. A statement of the relief sought; and
    6. A statement of the reasons why the requester believes the action or failure to act is erroneous.

    For further assistance and to discuss any aspect of your request, you may contact any of the following (include name, title, and contact information):

  7. Name of agency official,
  8. Records custodian, or
  9. FOIA Coordinator that processed your request.
  10. Include one or more of the following FOIA Public Liaison’s contact information based on the type of records requested:

    U.S. Postal Service

    USPS HQ FOIA Requester Service Center — FOIA requests for Postal Service Headquarters controlled records including contracts, building leases, and other real estate transactions; or employee listings must be directed to:

    475 L‘ENFANT PLAZA SW RM 1P830
    WASHINGTON, DC 20260-1101
    Telephone: 202-268-2608
    Fax: 202-268-5353
    FOIA Public Liaison: Jane Eyre
    Telephone: 202-268-2608

    Field FOIA Requester Service Center — FOIA requests for Postal Service records controlled by area offices, district offices, Post Offices, or other field operations facilities must be directed to:

    1720 MARKET STREET RM 2400
    ST. LOUIS, MO 63155-9948
    Telephone: 314-345-5894
    Fax: 650-578-4956
    FOIA Public Liaison: Linda Crump

    U.S. Postal Inspection Service

    475 L’ENFANT PLAZA SW RM 3301
    WASHINGTON, DC 20260-1101
    Telephone: 202-268-7004
    Fax: 202-268-4538
    FOIA Public Liaison: Tammy Warner

  11. Sample OGIS Language. In addition to contact information for the FOIA Public Liaison, adverse determinations must include a statement regarding the requester’s right to seek dispute resolution services from OGIS, such as:
  12. “You may contact the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) at the National Archives and Records Administration to inquire about the FOIA meditation services that they offer. OGIS may be contacted in any of the following ways:

    COLLEGE PARK, MD 20740-6001
    Fax: 202-741-5769
    Telephone: 202-741-5770
    Toll Free: 877-684-6448