If you are not satisfied with an agency’s initial response, you may file an administrative appeal. This appeal goes to the head of the agency, who will review the case and sometimes override the initial decision. Appeals can be made over denial of
information, if you feel that exemptions were improperly applied, or over procedural aspects, for example if you believe there are records the agency failed to locate.
If your agency appeal is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision in federal district court. You may appeal a decision whether it is based on an exemption or on procedural aspects (e.g., an agency’s determination that a record does not
exist or the fee amount it assessed). At this point in the FOIA process, most people will require the assistance of an attorney.