The FOIA provides for expedited review of requests in certain circumstances, which means that the request will be taken out of the order in which it was received and prioritized over other FOIA requests.
Such requests must be made in the initial request letter. An agency that grants a request for expedited processing must review the FOIA request “as soon as practicable.”1 The FOIA requires agencies to issue regulations providing for expedited processing guidelines “in cases in which the person requesting the records demonstrates a compelling need” and “in other cases determined by the agency.”2
In practice, however, agencies frequently deny requests for expedited review (even from journalists), so you must make a strong case for it on appeal by demonstrating that the request meets the criteria set out in the FOIA, as well as in the particular agency’s FOIA regulations. You should cite and attach any supporting documentation to the appeal, as agencies often deny expedited review based on a determination that the requester has failed to adequately “demonstrate” the need for such review.
1 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(E)(iii).
2 Id. at §552(a)(6)(E)(i).