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How long will it take to process my Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request?

The USGS uses a multi-track processing system. We distinguish simple requests from more complex ones based on the estimated number of workdays needed to process the request. Factors include the number of pages involved in processing the request and the need for consultations with other federal agencies.

Requests within each track are processed and responded to on a first-in/first-out basis:

  • Expedited - requests that have been granted expedited processing. These will be processed as soon as practicable.

  • Simple - requests requiring little or no search, review, or analysis. These can be processed in one to five workdays.

  • Normal - These are usually processed in six to twenty workdays.

  • Complex - requests that involve the entire contents of a case file, or that require extensive search, review, referral, consultation, and analysis. These can be processed in twenty-one to sixty workdays.

  • Exceptional/Voluminous - requests requiring more than sixty workdays for processing. These involve very complex processing challenges that might include a large number of records. In these cases, we attempt to provide interim responses to requesters on a rolling basis.

For additional information, please send an email to