Before Submitting a FOIA Request
Before you submit a FOIA request, check SAMHSA's website to see if your information is already publicly available. Or use the website's search feature to help you find the specific information you need.
How to Submit a FOIA Request
If you can't find what you need, you may submit a FOIA request to obtain the records, unless they, or some parts, are protected from disclosure. To request FOIA records from SAMHSA, send an email to SAMHSA's FOIA office. The office may need to contact you with questions about your request, so include:
- The subject of the request
- Your mailing address
- Your phone number or email address
Although no specific form is required to make your request, you should clearly describe the information you are seeking.
Or you may visit SAMHSA's FOIA office in person.
Fee Charges for FOIA Requests
SAMHSA charges fees for some requests and will bill you only if the total processing charges are $25 or more.
For fee purposes, the FOIA requires that requestors be placed in one of three categories:
- Commercial use
- Educational and scientific institutions, and news media
- All other
In line with these FOIA categories, SAMHSA charges the following costs associated with the processing of requests:
- Commercial-use requestors pay for search, review, and duplication costs.
- Scientific, educational, and news media requestors pay for the cost of duplication only, except that the first 100 pages are free of charge.
- All other requestors pay for the costs of search and duplication, except that the first 2 hours of search and the first 100 pages of duplication are free of charge.
In your written request, you may specify the fee category in which you feel your request falls. You also may state the maximum amount of fees that you are willing to pay.
The FOIA permits SAMHSA to waive its fees if disclosure of the record is in the public interest, and it
- Is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government
- Is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requestor
If you believe that your request meets both of the above tests, you can request a fee waiver or reduction in fees when you make your FOIA request. Be sure to fully document and justify your waiver request.
A FOIA requester may appeal if denied access to records. Your appeal must be in writing, and you must send it to the review official at the address, and within the time limit, provided in your denial letter. The appeal letter should state reasons why:
- You believe that the FOIA exemption(s) cited do not apply to the records that you requested, or
- The records should be released regardless of whether the exemption(s) apply.
Because SAMHSA has discretionary authority in deciding whether to release or withhold certain types of records, you may strengthen your request by explaining your reasons for wanting the records. However, you are not required to give any explanation.
If the review official grants your appeal, you will receive access to the records or an explanation of the delay. If the decision is to deny your appeal, the official will state the reasons for the decision and inform you of the FOIA provision for judicial review in writing.