How do I appeal a denial?
In order to appeal a denial, promptly send a letter to the Designated Appeal Official. HHS requires that appeals be submitted within 30 days after the denial. The HHS denial letter should tell you the office to which your appeal letter should be addressed. For the quickest possible handling, you should mark both your appeal letter and the envelope “Freedom of Information Act Appeal.”
Simply ask the Designated Appeal Official to review your FOIA request and its denial decision. It is a good idea also to give your reason(s) for believing that the denial was wrong. Be sure to refer to any pertinent communications you have had with HHS about the request and include any tracking number the agency may have assigned to your request. To save time in acting on your appeal, include copies of your FOIA request and the HHS denial letter. You do not need to enclose copies of any documents released to you.
Under the FOIA, HHS has 20 working days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays) to decide your appeal. Under certain circumstances, HHS may extend the deadline for responding to your appeal by up to 10 working days. Please note that, as with initial requests, some appeals may take longer to decide.