Challenging Fees

The FOIA provides that agencies can charge “reasonable standard charges for document search, duplication, and review,” but provides for certain fee benefits applicable to journalists.1 Journalists may appeal an agency’s denial of their request to be categorized as a “representative of the news media” or for a full fee waiver, as well as the excessiveness of any assessed fees the agency is attempting to charge.

In appealing these issues, you should consult the agency’s FOIA regulations, which can generally be found on an agency’s FOIA home page. These regulations explain, for example, how the agency defines “representative of the news media,” the costs assessed for copies, and how a journalist may obtain a fee waiver.

1 See 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii).