The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives the public the right to access information about the federal government. In addressing requests for information, agencies have the authority to assess fees for certain categories of requesters to cover the costs of locating and copying records, as well as discretion to waive fees if specific criteria are met. GAO was asked to determine, for fiscal year 2004, the volume and nature of FOIA request processing at the Department of Energy (DOE), to what extent DOE followed the act and related Office of Management and Budget and Department of Justice guidance in processing cases that involve fees, and to what extent DOE communicated its fee-related decisions to requesters.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Justice||To improve FOIA requesters' understanding of agency fee-related determinations, the Attorney General should direct the co-directors of the Department of Justice's Office of Information and Privacy to revise FOIA guidance to include a requirement that agencies explicitly inform requesters of all fee-related determinations associated with their requests, including a notification that fees were not assessed, if applicable.|