FOIA Fees & Fee Waivers
The Department's bureaus and offices are authorized to charge fees to requesters in order to recover the direct costs of search, review and duplication of requested records. If the total costs of supplying the requested information is less than $50, the Department will waive any applicable fees. If the total costs will exceed $250, you may be required to pay before the Department begins its search. Fee and fee waiver issues can be complicated. If you have additional questions, please see our regulations.
Bureaus/offices will charge for processing requests under the FOIA in accordance with the Department's FOIA regulations and the Office of Management and Budget's Guidelines. Bureaus/offices ordinarily will collect all applicable fees before sending copies of records to you and can charge search and review costs even if no records are found or the record reviewed is ultimately not disclosed.
$ .15 per page for standard-size paper.
Search and Review Fees (effective January 1, 2014)
- Clerical Staff (GS-7 and below): $6 per 15 minutes, $24 per hour
- Professional Staff (GS-8 through GS-12): $10.50 per 15 minutes, $42 per hour
- Managerial Staff (GS-13 and above): $15.25 per 15 minutes, $61 per hour
Requesting a Fee Waiver
If you are seeking a fee waiver, it is your responsibility to provide detailed information to support your request. You must submit this information with your FOIA request. Each fee waiver request is judged on its own merit. The Department does not grant "blanket" fee waivers. The fact that you have received a fee waiver in the past does not mean you are automatically entitled to a fee waiver for other requests you submit, because an essential element of any fee waiver determination is whether the release of the particular documents sought will likely contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the Government.
Fee Waiver Criteria
An essential element of any fee waiver determination is whether the release of the particular records sought will likely contribute significantly to public understanding of the operation or activities of the Government. The bureau will release records responsive to a request without charge or at a reduced rate if the bureau determines, based on all available information, that you have demonstrated that disclosing the information is:
- Is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government, and
- Is not primarily in your commercial interest.
In deciding whether you have met the criteria above, the Department will consider the following factors:
- The subject of the request must concern identifiable operations or activities of the Federal government, with a connection that is direct and clear, not remote or attenuated.
- The disclosable portions of the requested records must be meaningfully informative about government operations or activities to be "likely to contribute" to an increased public understanding of those operations or activities. Information that already is in the public domain, in either the same or a substantially identical form, would not contribute to such understanding.
- The disclosure must contribute to the understanding of a reasonably broad audience of persons interested in the subject, as opposed to your individual understanding. The bureau will consider your expertise in the subject area as well as your ability and intention to effectively convey information to the public.
- The public's understanding of the subject must be enhanced to a significant extent by the disclosure.
Disclaimer: To the extent that anything included on the DOI FOIA website may be or could be construed as inconsistent with the law or DOI's regulations, the law and regulations will control DOI's responsibilities under the FOIA.