1. FOIA/PA request — a FOIA request is generally a request
for access to records concerning a third party, an organization,
or a particular topic of interest. A request made under the related
Privacy Act is a request for records concerning oneself; any such
requests received are treated as FOIA requests. All requests for
access to records under the FOIA or Privacy Act are covered by this
2. Initial request — a request to a federal agency for access
to records under the Freedom of Information Act.
3. Appeal — a request to a federal agency asking that it
review at a higher administrative level a full or partial denial
of access to records under the Freedom of Information Act, or any
other FOIA determination such as a matter pertaining to fees.
4. Processed Request or Appeal — a request or appeal for which
an agency has taken a final action in all respects on the request
or the appeal.
5. Multi-track processing — a system in which simple requests
requiring relatively minimal review are placed in one processing
track and more voluminous and complex requests are placed in one
or more other tracks. Requests in each track are processed on a first-in/first-out
basis. A requester who has an urgent need for records may request
expedited processing (see below).
6. Expedited processing — an agency will process a FOIA request
on an expedited basis when a requester has shown an exceptional need
or urgency for the records which warrants prioritization of his or
her request over other requests that were made earlier.
7. Simple request — a FOIA request that an agency using multi-track
processing places in its fastest (non-expedited) track based on the
volume and/or simplicity of records requested.
8. Complex request — a FOIA request that an agency using
multi-track processing places in a slower track based on the volume
and/or complexity of records requested.
9. Grant — an agency decision to disclose all records in
full in response to a FOIA request.
10. Partial grant — an agency decision to disclose a record
in part in response to a FOIA request, deleting information determined
to be exempt under one or more of the FOIA's exemptions; or a decision
to disclose some records in their entireties, but to withhold others
in whole or in part.
11. Denial — an agency decision not to release any part of
a record or records in response to a FOIA request because the agency
determines all the information in the requested records is exempt
under one or more of the FOIA exemptions, or for a procedural reason,
such as because no record is located in response to a FOIA request.
12. Time limits — the time period in the Freedom of Information
Act for an agency to respond to a FOIA request, (ordinarily 20 working
days from proper receipt of a “perfected” FOIA request).
13. “Perfected” request — a FOIA request for records
which adequately describes the records sought, which has been received
by the FOIA office of the agency or agency component in possession
of the records, and for which there is no remaining question about
the payment of applicable fees.
14. Exemption 3 statute — a separate federal statute prohibiting
the disclosure of a certain type of information and authorizing its
withholding under FOIA subsection (b)(3).
15. Median number — the middle, not average, number. For
example, of 3, 7, and 14, the median number is 7.
16. Average number — the number obtained by dividing the
sum of a group of numbers by the quantity of numbers in the group.
For example, of 3, 7, and 14, the average number is 8.