Step 1: research, draft, and submit your request
Step 2: agency will acknowledge they received your request, and might ask for clarification, and/or respond to your fee waiver request
Step 3: agency will provide a “determination” in which they will say that they can locate no responsive records, records are released in full, released in part, or withheld in full. If you are happy with the result, case is closed, if you are unhappy, go to step 4.
Satisfied? If yes, case closed. If no, proceed to step 4.
Step 4: Write an appeal to the agency, arguing why the information should be released.
Step 5: The agency will respond to your appeal, sometimes releasing additional information. If you are satisfied, the case is closed. If not, you have the choice to litigate against the agency.
Satisfied? If yes, case closed. If no, proceed to step 6.
Step 6: If you have exhausted all of your appeal rights, you may file litigation, arguing that the agency improperly applied the FOIA in your case.