Need a lawyer to sign a FOIA request?
So, I sent off a request to the USPIS for my personal records. I got back a request from them saying it needed to be notarized (which I got done) and it says it needs the signature of an “ATTORNEY OR AOTHER DESIGNEE (Name, address and phone number).
Do I really need to find a lawyer to sign a FOIA request? Or am I misunderstanding what they want from me? I’m not sure what they mean by “another designee”.
Any help is appreciated!
Hi Jon, when you request your own records from an agency, it’s actually a Privacy Act request (a cousin of FOIA), and the forms/instructions from every agency for PA requests are confusing, badly worded, and badly designed. Part of the form asks you if you want to waive your privacy rights and have your info released to your attorney or other third party. Just ignore that part. Don’t fill in the two lines below the bold, all-caps “ATTORNEY OR OTHER DESIGNEE.” Go ahead and sign on the line that says “Signature:” underneath that.
Also, their letter says that they have to receive your signed declaration within 10 business days of the date of their letter. The letter is dated August 19, so they needed it by Sept 2. You’ll need to refile, but this time you can send the signed declaration with your initial request.
P.S. If you do send a new request accompanied by the declaration form they already sent you, you’ll want to cross out the highlighted line at the bottom. Or you could make your request without that form, and they’ll send you a new one.
Thanks for the help, Russ.
So do I have to pay if I refile?
So, I asked the USPI a simple question and they sent me a super long response I don’t response, other than the FOIA request was closed. So, do I need to pay again and refile?
Here’s my question:
“Hi, \ It appears I missed the date to send in the notarized form. Could you resend it to me and I can have it notarized and have it sent back to you again? \
\ Thanks, \ Jonathan”
And here is their response
“Mr. XXXXX: \
\ The U.S. Postal Service comprises the Postal Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS); the Postal Rate Commission (PRC); and the OIG; each with its own area of responsibility and individual FOIA office. This response is on behalf of the OIG only. \
\ The Postal Service Records Office establishes procedures to ensure Postal Service records management practices comply with both the FOIA and Privacy Act. The Records Office, along with the St Louis Requester Service Center, is the designated custodian for non-law enforcement Postal Service records; including but not limited to contracting and personnel records. Additional information regarding the Postal Service FOIA program can be found at https://about.usps.com/who-we-are/foia/welcome.htm. \
\ The USPIS is the designated custodian for postal records relating to Postal Service law enforcement issues. The USPIS is a federal law enforcement entity charged with enforcing the Federal statutes involving mail fraud, illegal drugs, external mail theft, and other postal crimes, including revenue deficiencies, and are responsible for safety and security of all postal employees and facilities. Information on the USPIS is available on the Internet at: https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov. \
\ The OIG is an independent agency, created in 1997, with oversight authority over audits and investigations of Postal and Inspection Service fraud, abuse, and misconduct. The OIG’s mission is to prevent, detect, and report fraud, theft, and misconduct, and promote efficiency in the operation of the Postal Service. \
\ While the OIG has “oversight authority” for activities of the above referenced entities, the OIG is a separate agency and does not have management authority over the daily operations of either the Postal Service or USPIS. In addition, the OIG FOIA office does not have access to records maintained by the Postal Service or UPSIS and cannot direct either FOIA office to release records under their control. \
\ As stated in our August 20 reply to you, your FOIA request 2020-IGFP-00591 is closed. This office forwarded your request to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) for processing and direct reply to you. We recommend you contact them at FOIA@USPIS.govFOIA@USPIS.gov for further assistance. \
\ Sincerely, \
\ The USPS-OIG FOIA Team”
Any help translating this would be very helpful.
Thanks in advance,
Thanks for your question. There is no need to refile your request.
This means that the agency has forwarded the request to the USPIS for further processing.
You should receive a response from USPIS, and there should be no further action needed on your part.
Thanks again for your question.