How to Appeal a FOIA Denial

Administrative Appeals

The CIA will only withhold records (or any portion of them) if they are exempt from disclosure. If your request is denied, in whole or in part, we must advise you in writing of the reasons for the denial (see Exemptions) and inform you of your right to appeal to a higher decision making level within the Agency.

If you disagree with an agency decision, the FOIA permits you to file an administrative appeal to the Agency Release Panel (ARP) in care of the Coordinator (address can be found in the Sample Letter) within 90 days of the Agency's initial decision. The ARP members consist of senior Agency officials.

Cases are generally delegated for action to the member(s) with primary subject matter concern and confirmed by the entire ARP. No particular form of appeal is required; however, your letter should specify the factual or legal basis of your appeal.


If you are still dissatisfied with the Agency's decision after the administrative appeal, you may seek a review of the Agency's determinations in a U.S. District Court. In court, Agency representatives must prove that any withheld information is covered by one of the exemptions listed in the FOIA.

For a more comprehensive treatment of your rights for administrative appeal or litigation, see: