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only a portion of the total fee.) In cases when a requester has been notified that actual or estimated fees may amount to more than $25.00, the request will be deemed not to have been received until the requester has agreed to pay the anticipated total fee. A notice to the requester pursuant to this paragraph shall offer him the opportunity to confer with Office personnel in order to reformulate his request to meet his needs at a lower cost.
(f) Aggregating requests. When the Office reasonably believes that a requester or a group of requesters acting in concert is attempting to divide a request into a series of requests for the purpose of evading the assessment of fees, the Office may aggregate any such requests and charge accordingly. The Office may presume that multiple requests of this type made within a 30day period have been made in order to evade fees. When requests are separated by a longer period, the Office shall aggregate them only when there exists a solid basis for determining that such aggregation is warranted, e.g., when the requests involve clearly related matters. Multiple requests involving unrelated matters shall not be aggregated.
(g) Advance payments. (1) When the Office estimates that a total fee to be assessed under this section is likely to exceed $250.00, it may require the requester to make an advance payment of an amount up to the entire estimated fee before beginning to process the request, except when it receives a satisfactory assurance of full payment from a requester with a history of prompt payment or where a fee waiver, or reduction of fees, has been requested. In the case where a fee waiver or reduction of fees has been requested, the requester shall submit the advance payment, if required by the agency. This prepayment will not affect the Office's responsibility for speedy determination of the fee waiver, or reduction of fees, nor be deemed in derogation of the request for the fee waiver or reduction of fees. If the agency approves the fee waiver, or reduction of fees, the appropriate sum will be reimbursed to the requester, with no accumulated interest, if any.
(2) When a requester has previously failed to pay a records access fee within 30 days of the date of billing, the Office may require the requester to pay the full amount owned, plus any applicable interest (as provided for in paragraph (h) of this section), and to make an advance payment of the full amount of may estimated fee before the Office begins to process a new request or continues to process a pending request from that requester.
(3) For requests other than those described in paragraphs (g) (1) and (2) of this section, the Office shall not require the requester to make an advance payment, i.e., a payment made before work is commenced or continued on a request. Payment owed for work already completed is not an advance payment.
(4) When a component acts under paragraphs (g) (1) or (2) of this section, the administrative time limits prescribed in subsection (a)(6) of the FOIA for the processing of an initial request or an appeal, plus permissible extensions of these time limits, shall be deemed not to begin to run until the Office has received payment of the assessed fee.
(h) Charging interest. The Office may assess interest charges on an unpaid bill starting on the 31st day following the day on which the bill was sent to the requester. Once a fee payment has been received by the Office, even if not processed, the accrual of interest shall be stayed. Interest charges shall be assessed at the rate prescribed in section 3717 of title 31 U.S.C. and shall accrue from the date of the billing. The Office shall follow the provisions of the Debt Collection Act of 1982, Public Law 97– 265 (Oct. 25, 1982), 96 Stat. 1749, and its implementing procedures, including the use of consumer reporting agencies, collection agencies, and offset.
(i) Other statutes specifically providing for fees. (1) The fee schedule of this section does not apply with respect to the charging of fees under a statute specifically providing for setting the level of fees for particular types of records i.e., any statute that specifically requires a government priniting entity such as the Government Printing Office or the National Technical Information Service to set and collect fees for
particular types of records in order to:
(i) Serve both the general public and private sector organizations by conveniently making available government information;
(ii) Ensure that groups and individuals pay the cost of publications and other services that are for their special use so that these costs are not borne by the general taxpaying public;
(iii) Operate an information-dissemination activity on a self-sustaining basis to the extent possible; or
(iv) Return revenue to the Treasury for defraying, wholly or in part, appropriated funds used to pay the cost of disseminating government information.
(2) When records responsive to requests are maintained for distribution by agencies operating statutorily based fee schedule programs, the Office shall inform requesters of the steps necessary to obtain records from those sources.
(j) Definitions. For the purpose of this section:
(1) The term direct costs means those expenditures that the Office actually incurs in searching for and duplicating (and, in the case of commercial use requesters, reviewing) records to respond to a FOIA request. Direct costs include, for example, the salary of the employee performing the work (the basic rate of pay for the employee plus 16 percent of that rate to cover benefits) and the cost of operating duplicating machinery. Not included in direct costs are overhead expenses such as costs of space and heating or lighting of the facility in which the records are stored.
(2) The term search includes all time spent looking for material that is responsive to a request, including pageby-page or line-by-line identification of material within documents. The Office shall ensure, however, that searches are undertaken in the most efficient and least expensive manner reasonably possible; thus, for example, the Office shall not engage in line-by-line search when merely duplicating an entire document would be quicker and less expensive.
(3) The term duplication refers to the process of making a copy of a record
necessary to respond to a FOIA request. Such copies can take the form of paper copy, microfilm, audio-visual materials, or machine-readable documentation (e.g., magnetic tape or disk), among others. The copy provided shall be in a form that is reasonably usable by requesters.
(4) The term review refers to the process of examining a record located in response to a request in order to determine whether any portion of it is permitted to be withheld. It also includes processing any record for disclosure, e.g., doing all that is necessary to excise it and otherwise prepare it for release, although review costs shall be recoverable
where there ultimately is no disclosure of a record. Review time does not include time spent resolving general legal or policy issues regarding the application of exemptions.
(5) The term commercial use in the context of a request refers to a request from or on behalf of one who seeks information for a use or purpose that furthers the commercial, trade, or profit interests of the requester or the person on whose behalf the request is made, which can include furthering those interests through litigation. The Office shall determine, as well as reasonably possible, the use to which a requester will put the records requested. When the circumstances of a request suggest that the requester will put the records sought to a commercial use, either because of the nature of the request itself or because the Office otherwise has reasonable cause to doubt a requester's stated use, the Office shall provide the requester a reasonable opportunity to submit futher clarification.
(6) The term educational institution refers to a preschool, a public or private elementary or secondary school, an institution of graduate higher education, and institution of professional education, and an institution of vocational education, which operates a program or programs of scholarly research. To be eligible for inclusion in this category, a requester must show that the request is being made as authorized by and under the auspices of a qualifying institution and that the records are not sought for a commercial use, but are sought in furtherance of scholarly research.
(7) The term noncommercial scientific institution refers to an institution that is not operated on a “commercial" basis as that term is referenced in paragraph (j)(5) of this section, and which is operated solely for the purpose of conducting scientific research, the results of which are not intended to promote any particular product or industry. To be eligible for inclusion in this category, a requester must show that the request is being made as authorized by and under the auspices of a qualifying institution and that the records are not sought for a commercial use, but are sought in furtherance of scientific research.
(8) The term representative of the news media refers to any person actively gathering news for an entity that is organized and operated to publish or broadcast news to the public. The term news means information that is about current events or that would be of current interest to the public. Examples of news media entities include television or radio stations broadcasting to the public at large, and publishers of periodicals (but only in those instances when they can qualify as disseminators of "news") who make their products available for purchase or subscription by the general public. For “freelance"
journalists to be regarded as working for a news organization, they must demonstrate a solid basis for expecting publication through that organization; a publication contract would be the clearest proof, but the Office shall also look to the past publication record of a requester in making this determination. To be eligible for inclusion in this category, a requester also must not be seeking the requested records for a commercial use. In this regard, a request for records supporting the news dissemination function of the requester shall not be considered to be for a commercial use.
(k) Charges for other services and materials. Apart from the other provisions of this section, when the Office elects, as a matter of administrative discretion, to comply with a request for a special service or materials, such as certifying that records are true copies or sending them other than by ordinary mail, the actual direct costs of providing the service or materials shall be charged.
$ 701.19 Other rights and services.
Nothing in this part shall be construed to entitle any person, as of right, to any service or to the disclosure of any record to which such person is not entitled under 5 U.S.C. 552.