Michigan Department of Civil Rights Public Summary of the Department's Freedom of Information Act Procedures and Guidelines

CHAPTER 7       Office of Management Services
SECTION 06      Freedom of Information
SUBJECT 03      FOIA Public Summary

706.03                 Public Summary of FOIA Procedures and Guidelines

REFERENCE: Act No. 442, Public Acts of 1976 (as amended), “Freedom of Information Act” (MCL 5.231 et. seq.)

A. Submitting written FOIA Requests

FOIA requests to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, its divisions, commissions, committees, etc. can be sent by email or mail to:

Email: MDCR-FOIA@michigan.gov

Mail:
Michigan Department of Civil Rights
Attn: FOIA Coordinator
3054 W. Grand Blvd., Suite 3-600
Detroit, MI 48202

Include your name, phone number, and mailing address in your request so that we may contact you if we have questions, and so that we can provide you with the documents when they are ready.

B. Understanding the Department's written responses to FOIA requests

The Department has several options when responding to written requests for public records. It can grant the FOIA request, deny the request, or grant it in part and deny it in part. The Department may also secure a 10 business day extension, after which it must respond with one of the options.

If the request is granted or granted in part and denied in part, the Department can charge a fee to process the request. No fee is charged for requests where costs are below the threshold set in its Procedures and Guidelines ($10.00). Fees are calculated as described in the procedures and guidelines and a detailed itemization of the fee will be provided to you. The Department may require payment of a 50% good-faith deposit before it begins processing your request if it appears the total cost will exceed $50.00. After payment in full, the Department will produce records in its possession that fall within the scope of your request and that legally may be disclosed to the public. You will be notified (and will not be charged) if the records are available on the Department’s website.

If your request is denied, the Department will provide a written notice which includes the basis for the denial. The Department may deny a request because:

  1. You did not describe the records you have requested well enough and the Department cannot determine what you are asking for;
  2. The Department has determined that it does not have records that respond to your request in its possession; or
  3. The records you have requested are exempt from public disclosure.

If all or part of a request is denied, the Department’s written response will include information on the right to appeal to the head of the Department and/or to file a lawsuit against the Department.

C. Deposit requirements

If the Department’s estimated processing fee is greater than $50.00, a good-faith deposit will be required before your request can be processed. The deposit will equal one half of the total estimated fee. The written notice requiring a deposit will include an itemized estimate showing how the total fee was determined and a best efforts estimate by the Department of how long after a deposit is received it will take the Department to provide the public records. The time frame estimate is not binding upon the Department, but the Department shall provide the estimate in good faith and strive to be reasonably accurate and to provide the public records in a manner based on this State's public policy under section 1 of the FOIA, MCL 15.231, and the nature of the request in the particular instance.

D. Fee calculations

The FOIA permits the Department to charge a fee to process FOIA requests using a form which provides a detailed itemization of the costs. The Department may charge for the following:

  • the costs of labor for the search, location, and examination of public records;
  • the costs of labor for the review of public records and separation and deletion of exempt from nonexempt information;
  • the cost of nonpaper physical media;
  • the cost of duplication and publication of public records;
  • the costs of labor for the duplication or publication of public records;
  • the actual cost of mailing public records.
  • the costs of labor for monitoring an inspection of original records.

E. Options for challenge and appeal

If the Department charges a fee or denies all or part of a request, the requestor may submit a written appeal that specifically states the word "appeal" and identifies the basis for which the fee should be reduced or the disclosure determination should be reversed. The file number, along with your name, phone number, and mailing address should appear at the top of the appeal, which may be sent by email or mail to:

Email: MDCR-FOIAappeals@michigan.gov

Mail:
Michigan Department of Civil Rights
Attn: FOIA Appeals
3054 W. Grand Blvd., Suite 3-600
Detroit, MI 48202

Appeals will be forwarded to the Department Director or a person designated by the Director to respond to written appeals on his or her behalf and who was not involved in the decision being appealed.