What should my FOAA request say or include?

In order for the City to promptly respond to your request, you should be as specific as possible when describing the records you are seeking. If a particular document is required, it should be identified precisely—preferably by author, date and title. However, a request does not have to be that specific. If you cannot identify a specific record, you should clearly explain the type of records you are seeking, from what time frame, and what subject the records should contain. 

For example, assume you want to obtain a list of vendors that the City paid in exchange for goods and services in July of 2016. A request for “all vendor payments” is very broad and would likely produce volumes of records. The fees for such a request would be very high; the City would likely find your request too vague and ask that you make it more specific. On the other hand, a request for “all records of payments to vendors paid by the City in July 2016” is specific and lists the type of record, the purpose of the record, and the time frame. A justification for your request is not required. Although, you might also want to explain what information you hope to learn from the record as this additional explanation may help the City narrow its search and find a record that meets the exact request.

Show All Answers

1. What is the Maine Freedom of Access Act?
2. What is a public record?
3. What is a FOAA request?
4. Does the FOAA request have to be in writing?
5. What should my FOAA request say or include?
6. Who should I send my FOAA request to within the City?
7. Does the City have to acknowledge receipt of my request?
8. Is the City authorized to ask me for clarification concerning my request?
9. Does the City have to estimate how long it will take to respond to my request?
10. In what form can I expect the records to be in response to my FOAA request?
11. Can I be charged for the FOAA Request?
12. Is the City subject to penalties for failure to comply with the Freedom of Access Act?