Records Requests

Office of the General Counsel

Please note that the Smithsonian is unable to conduct a search for physical records while teleworking. As a result, all search requests will be limited to electronic records, unless you notify us that you want your request to remain open until Smithsonian employees have physical access to their workspaces.  For fastest receipt of your request while a number of Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. and New York City continue to be closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, please email your request to [email protected] instead of submitting it in hard copy via mail or fax. 

The Smithsonian responds to requests for records in accordance with its records disclosure policy, Smithsonian Directive 807 – Requests for Smithsonian Institution Information. As a trust instrumentality of the United States, the Smithsonian is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552, which applies only to agencies within the Executive Branch of the federal government. However, the Smithsonian's disclosure policy follows the spirit of the FOIA to foster openness and accountability.

Records Request Contact Person

Jessica Sanet 
Assistant General Counsel
Smithsonian Institution 
Office of General Counsel 
MRC 012 
P.O. Box 37012 
Washington, DC 20013-7012 
Fax: (202) 357-4310 
E-mail: [email protected]

To learn the status of your request, please contact Jessica Sanet, Assistant General Counsel, at [email protected]. The Smithsonian makes every effort to respond to each request for records as quickly as possible, taking into account the complexity of each request and the volume of the located documents.

Appeals and External Review

Appeals— A requester has the right to appeal a partial or full denial of their request. The appeal must be in writing, addressed to the Office of General Counsel at the Smithsonian, and made within sixty days from the date of the full or partial denial letter. The appeal letter should include the request’s tracking number and explain what specific action is being appealed. The Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer shall have the authority to decide appeals. The requester will receive an answer in writing granting or denying the appeal.

External Review— A requester may contact the Office of Government and Information Services (OGIS) at the National Archives and Records Administration to seek mediation services to resolve disputes about the withholding of information regarding his/her request for records.  Your request for mediation should include language authorizing OGIS to make inquiries on your behalf, including the right to review all documentation that OGIS deems necessary regarding your request. You should note that you understand that any documents you provide to OGIS, except those provided in confidence, may be copied and forwarded to Smithsonian Institution officials as a part of the dispute resolution process.