Frequently Asked Questions
- What kinds of records can I request from the Volpe Center under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?
- How do I make a FOIA request?
- Must I use special forms?
- How does the Volpe Center process FOIA requests?
- How long will it take the Volpe Center to respond to my request?
- What kinds of records can the Volpe Center withhold?
- How do I know if the Volpe Center has withheld records from me?
- What if I think the Volpe Center has withheld records improperly?
- What happens if the Volpe Center does not have the records I want?
- Is there a fee for filing a FOIA request?
- What regulations govern the Volpe Center's FOIA activities?
- How can I reach the Volpe Center FOIA Office?
- In what format are documents available?
What kinds of records can I request from the Volpe Center under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?
All records that are in an agency's possession are subject to FOIA.
How do I make a FOIA request?
Submit your request to the the Volpe Center FOIA Office at the following address:
Andrea Griswold, RVA-40
Cambridge, MA 02142-1093
Must I use special forms?
No, just write a letter with as much detail as possible about the records you want.
How does the Volpe Center process FOIA requests?
When your request arrives in the FOIA Office, it is logged into a database and sent to the area(s) within the Volpe Center that may have the records you want. Program staff in those areas search their files for the records. If our staff find records, they review them and send them to the FOIA Office. The FOIA Office then reviews the response package and determines which records can or cannot be released. All releasable records are sent to the requester with a letter from the FOIA Officer, and a bill for any fees incurred by fulfilling the request. Certain fees may be waived.
How long will it take the Volpe Center to respond to my request?
When your request is logged in, the FOIA Office will send you a postcard to let you know your request was received. Under FOIA, agencies generally have 20 working days to answer a request. Response time may be extended if the requested documents are voluminous, include confidential commercial information, or if coordination with another agency is required.
What kinds of records can the Volpe Center withhold?
FOIA has 9 exemptions (categories of records that an agency is allowed to or must withhold from release). Records withheld by the Volpe Center usually fall into the following categories:
How do I know if the Volpe Center has withheld records from me?
The FOIA Office will tell you in its response letter if records or parts of records you requested have been withheld and which exemptions apply.
What if I think the Volpe Center has withheld records improperly?
If the Volpe Center withholds records from you:
You may apply for reconsideration of the determination to the Administrator, Research and Innovative Technology, Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave., S.E. Washington, DC 20590, whose decision will be administratively final. Your application for reconsideration must be in writing within thirty (30) days after date of receipt of this determination and must include all information or arguments relied upon. You must also state that it is an appeal from a denial of a request made under the Freedom of Information Act, and the envelope in which the appeal is sent must be prominently marked with the letters "FOIA."
What happens if the Volpe Center does not have the records I want?
The FOIA Office will tell you in writing that the records you seek are not located at the Volpe Center. If the FOIA Office knows what agency has the records, they will refer you to that agency.
Is there a fee for filing a FOIA request?
FOIA allows agencies to charge requesters for FOIA services, e.g., search and review time, copy costs. The Volpe Center's fees are set by the Department of Transportation.
If you are concerned about costs, ask for a cost estimate. FOIA staff will let you know roughly what your fees will be before they process your request. They will give you a chance to decide whether to proceed with the request or cancel.
What regulations govern the Volpe Center's FOIA activities?
The FOIA Office follows the regulations set forth in the Department of Transportation's FOIA regulations at 49 CFR Part 7.
How can I reach the Volpe Center FOIA Office?
The Volpe Center's FOIA Office mailing address is:
Mail Code: RVA-40
Cambridge, MA 02142-1093
Or the FOIA Office can be reached by:
In what format are documents available?
A FOIA requester may choose among existing forms or format of a record, so long as the record is readily reproducible in the chosen form. Copies of Volpe records will generally be available either on disk or in hard copy; please let us know which you prefer. Copies of many Volpe contracts are available in PDF format on this Web site, under Current Volpe Contracts and Archived Contracts.