Ask the Times

Published May 16, 2007

Under the Freedom of Information Act, are there limits on how long it should take for the government to release the requested material?

The law requires all federal agencies to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests within 20 business days, by either sending the requested documents or a letter informing citizens of their decision with the documents to follow within a reasonable time thereafter. Sometimes an agency may need more time to find the records, examine them, consult with other persons or agencies, decide whether to disclose all of the information requested, and prepare the records for disclosure. Disputes are settled in federal court. See www.pueblo.gsa.gov.