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P. Simmons
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Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Employment Law Expert
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Former federal employee (not retired) seeking contents of

Customer Question

former federal employee (not retired) seeking contents of OPF....left federal job about one year ago.....understand I can access via archives/records or FOIA....
Please indicate pros/cons of FOIA request versus contacting records management archives (believe this is managed by OPM)
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

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Can you explain what you mean by OPF?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.

Please opt out and get an expert in federal employment law....

by the way....OPF = Official Personnel Folder.....if you do not know what an OPF is, then it is unlikely you can answer my question.....

Please forward to an expert in federal employment law....

thank you.

Expert:  P. Simmons replied 11 months ago.

Hello! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney with more than 18 years of experience. I am here to assist you with your questions. Please understand that if I ask you for additional information, you are NOT charged again and our communications are NOT timed. So please see this as a relaxed conversation between friends. I am here to help

Also, if you would like to chat on the phone, let me know and I can make that happen.

Federal attorney here. With way too much FOIA/PA experience.

The way to recover these records is a request under the FOIA (freedom of information act) in conjunction with the PA (privacy act)

You make the FOIA request and make sure you state that you waive the application of the PA.

They are required to release the records to you

You could contact the archives...nothing wrong what doing that as well.

But I would send off the FOIA/PA request first.

Please let me know if you have more questions. I am happy to help if I can. Otherwise, please rate the answer so I may get credit for my work.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.

are you stating that a former employee must file a FOIA to get the Agency to release a copy of the eOPF or OPF to the employee? I thought when an employee leaves a federal agency they are entitled to a Form 50, or that the Agency must provide the employee a copy of the final Form 50 documenting the action of leaving an Agency, and that the former employee has a right to access their own personnel records, especially the OPF, to ensure that it is accurate and complete, etc..

If OPM has the OPF in archives and it can be accessed by faxing OPM, why file a FOIA and wait for months or years to see the contents of the OPF?

Also, what about security clearance the Agency required to maintain any records on this or do they just put the clearance into the OPF? It would seem an Agency would need to document interaction with the clearance unit to get the clearance into the OPF. How can a former government employee verify the status of clearance information/and/or get a copy of it, if it is not in the OPF?

(I realize this is another question and can submit it as a second question.)


Expert:  P. Simmons replied 11 months ago.

Sorry...your original question did not mention form 50. Form 50 is the standard form used by OMPF to o document civilian Government service for Federal applications and is a written documentation of personnel action.

I was under the impression you wanted copies of your entire file and not just the Form 50.

You can certainly request the form 50. THey will provide one. But if you want copies of the entire record? You may need to use the FOIA

Customer: replied 11 months ago.

I am seeking the eOPF (or OPF) which the agency previously sent, but after making some required changes, has refused to send without my going through the FOIA process....I am trying to verify the required changes were made....seems odd that FOIA process would be used for this as FOIA generally takes months.....obviously I want to verify required changes before OPF is sent to some other agency....(sorry for confusion about Form 50....I already have seeking the entire OPF, preferably eOPF)

Why would FOIA be preferred over simply faxing OPM archives, assuming the OPF has been sent to is my understanding OPF must be sent to archives within 6 months of employee departure and I departed more than 6 months ago....

Thanks again...also, if I file the FOIA, is it necessary to verify my signature or can agency send OPF to my address and/or email of record? or could I alternatively provide a notarized signature/document stating my name, address, email, etc. with notarized signature? In other words, what verification/signature requirements are necessary to file FOIA electronically or otherwise?

Expert:  P. Simmons replied 11 months ago.

The FOIA does NOT take months...or it SHOULD not.

I spent a very long year as a FOIA attorney...the rules for FOIA are clear. Agencies are required to respond to a FOIA request within 20 business days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays. For the Privacy Act, the time limit is 10 business days. This period does not begun until the request is actually received by the FOIA office.

In specific situations, an additional 10-day extension may be granted in responding to a request.

In complex cases, it can take months...but NOT for a personnel file.

As I mentioned to start, you CAN use the direct request to OPM. YOu can (and I would) do both at the same time.

It is necessary to file the request in writing and to sign it. If your agency allows electronic submission (some do) then you can use this option.

I would send it in writing via mail. This is the template


1. This is a request under the FOIA and PA.

2. I request the following records:
3. I am willing to pay reproduction fees.

4. This request is for non commercial purposes, therefore I request that reproduction fees be waived.

5. I specifically waive the application of the PA for my information as it relates to this request.

6. Please send the documents to the following address:


Please let me know if you have more questions. I am happy to help if I can. Otherwise, please rate the answer so I may get credit for my work.

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