Title 28 Part 701
Title 28 → Chapter VII → Part 701
Electronic Code of Federal Regulations e-CFR
Title 28 Part 701
PART 701—PROCEDURES FOR DISCLOSURE OF RECORDS UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT
§701.10 General provisions.
§701.11 Requirements pertaining to requests.
§701.12 Responses by the Office to requests.
§701.13 Form and content of Office responses.
§701.14 Classified information.
§701.15 Business information.
§701.17 Preservation of records.
§701.19 Other rights and services.
Authority: 5 U.S.C. 552.
Source: 53 FR 8895, Mar. 18, 1988, unless otherwise noted.
§701.10 General provisions.
(a) This part contains the regulations of the Office of Independent Counsel implementing the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. 552. Information customarily furnished to the public in the regular course of the performance of official duties may continue to be furnished to the public without complying with this part, provided that the furnishing of such information would not violate the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. 552a, and would not be inconsistent with regulations issued pursuant to the Privacy Act. To the extent permitted by other laws, the Office will also consider making available records that it is permitted to withhold under the FOIA if it determines that such disclosure would be in the public interest and would not interfere with the functioning of the Office.
(b) As used in this part, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
(1) Appeal means the appeal by a requester of an adverse determination of his request, as described in 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(6)(A)(ii).
(2) Agency has the meaning given in 5 U.S.C. 551(1) and 5 U.S.C. 552(e).
(3) Request means any request for records made pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(3).
(4) Requester means any person who makes a request to the Office.
(5) Business information means trade secrets or other commercial or financial information.
(6) Business submitter means any commercial entity that provides business information to the Office and that has a proprietary interest in the information.
(c) The FOIA/PA Officer of the Office of Independent Counsel shall be responsible to Independent Counsel for all matters pertaining to the administration of this part.
(d) The Office of Independent Counsel shall comply with the time limits set forth in the FOIA for responding to and processing requests and appeals, unless there are exceptional circumstances within the meaning of 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(6)(C). The Office shall notify a requester whenever it is unable to respond to or process the request or appeal within the time limits established by the FOIA. The Office shall respond to and process requests and appeals in their approximate order of receipt, to the extent consistent with sound administrative practice.
§701.11 Requirements pertaining to requests.
(a) How made and addressed. A requester may make a request under this part for a record of the Office of Independent Counsel by writing to the Office at: FOIA/PA Officer, Office of Independent counsel, Suite 701 West, 555 Thirteenth Street NW., Washington, DC 20004. A request should be sent to the Office at its proper address and both the envelope and the request itself should be clearly marked: “Freedom of Information Act Request.”
(b) Request must reasonably describe the records sought. A request must describe the records sought in sufficient detail to enable Office personnel to locate the records with a reasonable amount of effort. A request for a specific category of records shall be regarded as fulfilling this requirement if it enables responsive records to be identified by a technique or process that is not unreasonably burdensome or disruptive of Office operations. Wherever possible, a request should include specific information about each record sought, such as the date, title or name, author, recipient, and subject matter of the record. In addition, if the request seeks records pertaining to pending litigation, the request should indicate the title of the case, the court in which the case was filed, and the nature of the case. If the Office determines that a request does not reasonably describe the records sought, the Office shall either advise the requester what additional information is needed or otherwise state why the request is insufficient. The Office also shall extend to the requester an opportunity to confer with Office personnel with the objective of reformulating the request in a manner that will meet the requirements of this section.
(c) Agreement to pay fees. (1) The filing of a request under this part shall be deemed to constitute an agreement by the requester to pay all applicable fees charged under §701.18 of this part, up to $25, unless a waiver of fees is sought. The Office shall confirm this agreement in its letter of acknowledgement to the requester. When filing a request, a requester may specify a willingness to pay a greater amount, if applicable.
(2) If a waiver of fees up to $25 is sought in the requester's request to the Office, the Office will make its determination on the fee waiver (and notify the requester as soon as possible) after receipt of the request. The submission of a request for fee waiver will not delay the Office's responsibility to search for responsive records.
(3) If the fee waiver is denied by the Office, and the fees involved total $25 or less, the Office will send the responsive documents to the requester, along with a bill for fees. The collection of the unpaid bill shall follow the procedures found herein at §701.18 (g)(2) and (h).
§701.12 Responses by the Office to requests.
(a) Authority to grant or deny requests. The head of the Office, or his designee, is authorized to grant or deny and request for a record of the Office.
(b) Initial action by the Office. When the Office receives a request for a record in its possession, the Office shall promptly determine whether another agency of the Government is better able to determine whether the record is exempt, to any extent, from mandatory disclosure under the FOIA; and whether the record, if exempt to any extent from mandatory disclosure under the FOIA, should nonetheless be released to the requester as a matter of discretion. If the Office determines that it is the agency best able to determine whether to disclose the record in response to the request, then the Office shall respond to the request. If the Office determines that it is not the agency best able to determine whether to disclose the record in response to the request, the Office shall either:
(1) Respond to the request, after consulting with the other agency best able to determine whether to disclose the record and with any other agency having a substantial interest in the requested record or the information contained therein; or
(2) Refer the responsibility for responding to the request to another agency that generated or originated the record, but only if that other agency is subject to the provisions of the FOIA.
Under ordinary circumstances, the agency that generated or originated a requested record shall be presumed to be the agency best able to determine whether to disclose the record in response to the request.
(c) Law-enforcement information. Whenever a request is made for a record containing information that relates to an investigation of a possible violation of criminal law or to a criminal law-enforcement proceeding and that was generated or originated by another agency, the Office shall refer the responsibility for responding to the request to that other agency; however, such referral shall extend only to the information generated or originated by that other agency.
(d) Classified information. Whenever a request is made for a record containing information that has been classified, or that may be eligible for classification, by another agency under the provisions of Executive Order 12356 or any other Executive Order concerning the classification of records, the Office shall refer the responsibility for responding to the request to the agency that classified the information or should consider the information for classification. Whenever a record contains information that has been derivatively classified by the Office because it contains information classified by another agency, the Office shall refer the responsibility for responding to the request to the agency that classified the underlying information; however, such referral shall extend only to the information classified by the other agency.
(e) Notice of referral. Whenever the Office refers all or any part of the responsibility for responding to a request to another agency, the Office will consult with the other agency to obtain specific approval to notify the requester of the referral and inform the requester of the name and address of the agency to which the request has been referred and the portions of the request so referred.
(f) Agreements regarding consultations and referrals. No provision of this section shall preclude formal or informal agreements between the Office and another agency to eliminate the need for consultations or referrals of requests or classes of requests.
(g) Separate referrals of portions of a request. Portions of a request may be referred separately to one or more other agencies whenever necessary to process the request in accordance with the provisions of this section.
(h) Date for determining responsive records. In determining records responsive to a request, the Office ordinarily will include only those records within the Office's possession and control as of the date of its receipt of the request.
§701.13 Form and content of Office responses.
(a) Form of notice granting a request. After the Office has made a determination to grant a request in whole or in part, the Office shall so notify the requester in writing. The notice shall describe the manner in which the record will be disclosed, whether by providing a copy of the record to the requester or by making a copy of the record available to the requester for inspection at a reasonable time and place. The procedure for such an inspection shall not unreasonably disrupt the operations of the Office. The Office shall inform the requester in the notice of any fees to be charged in accordance with the provisions of §701.18 of this part.
(b) Form of notice denying a request. The Office, when denying a request in whole or in part, shall so notify the requester in writing. The notice must be signed by the FOIA/PA Officer, or her designee, and shall include:
(1) The name and title or position of the person responsible for the denial;
(2) A brief statement of the reason or reasons for the denial, including the FOIA exemption or exemptions that the Office has relied upon in denying the request and a brief explanation of the manner in which the exemption or exemptions apply to each record withheld; and
(3) A statement that the denial may be appealed under §701.16(a) and a description of the requirements of that subsection.
(c) Record cannot be located or has been destroyed. If a requested record cannot be located from the information supplied, or is known or believed to have been destroyed or otherwise disposed of, the Office shall so notify the requester in writing.
§701.14 Classified information.
In processing a request for information that is classified or classifiable under Executive Order 12356 or any other Executive Order concerning the classification of records, the Office shall review the information to determine whether it warrants classification. Information that does not warrant classification shall not be withheld from a requester on the basis of 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(1). The Office shall, upon receipt of any appeal involving classified or classifiable information, take appropriate action to ensure compliance with Executive Order 12356 or any other Executive Order concerning the classification of records.
§701.15 Business information.
(a) In general. Business information provided to the Office by a business submitter shall not be disclosed pursuant to a FOIA request except in accordance with this section.
(b) Notice to business submitters. The Office shall provide a business submitter with prompt written notice of a request encompassing its business information whenever required under paragraph (c) of this section, except as is provided in paragraph (g) of this section, and only to the extent permitted by law. Such written notice shall either describe the exact nature of the business information requested or provide copies of the records or portions thereof containing the business information.
(c) When notice is required. For business information submitted to the Office it shall provide a business submitter with notice of a request whenever the business submitter has in good faith designated the information as commercially or financially sensitive, or the Office has reason to believe that disclosure of the information may result in commercial or financial injury to the business submitter. Notice of a request for business information falling within the former category shall be required for a period of not more than ten years after the date of submission unless the business submitter requests, and provides acceptable justification for, a specific notice period of greater duration. Whenever possible, the submitter's claim of confidentiality should be supported by a statement or certification by an officer or authorized representative of the company that the information in question is in fact confidential commercial or financial information and has not been disclosed to the public.
(d) Opportunity to object to disclosure. Through the notice described in paragraph (b) of this section, the Office shall afford a business submitter a reasonable period within which to provide the Office with a detailed statement of any objection to disclosure. Such statement shall specify all grounds for withholding any of the information under any exemption of the FOIA and, in the case of Exemption 4, shall demonstrate why the information is contended to be a trade secret or commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential. Information provided by a business submitter pursuant to this paragraph may itself be subject to disclosure under the FOIA.
(e) Notice of intent to disclose. (1) The Office shall consider carefully a business submitter's objections and specific grounds for nondisclosure prior to determining whether to disclose business information. Whenever the Office decides to disclose business information over the objection of a business submitter, the Office shall forward to the business submitter a written notice which shall include:
(i) A statement of the reasons for which the business submitter's disclosure objections were not sustained;
(ii) A description of the business information to be disclosed; and
(iii) A specified disclosure date.
(2) Such notice of intent to disclose shall be forwarded a reasonable number of days, as circumstances permit, prior to the specified date upon which disclosure is intended. A copy of such disclosure notice shall be forwarded to the requester at the same time.
(f) Notice of FOIA lawsuit. Whenever a requester brings suit seeking to compel disclosure of business information covered by paragraph (c) of this section, the Office shall promptly notify the business submitter.
(g) Exceptions to notice requirements. The notice requirements of this section shall not apply if:
(1) The Office determines that the information should not be disclosed;
(2) The information lawfully has been published or otherwise made available to the public;
(3) Disclosure of the information is required by law (other than 5 U.S.C. 552); or
(4) The Office is a criminal law-enforcement agency that acquired information in the course of a lawful investigation of a possible violation of criminal law.
(a) Appeals to Independent Counsel. When a request for access to records or for a waiver of fees has been denied in whole or in part, or when the Office fails to respond to a request within the time limits set forth in the FOIA, the requester may appeal the denial of the request to Independent Counsel within 30 days of his receipt of a notice denying his request. An appeal to Independent Counsel shall be made in writing and addressed to the Office of Independent Counsel, Suite 701 West, 555 Thirteenth Street NW., Washington, DC 20004. Both the envelope and the letter of appeal itself must be clearly marked: “Freedom of Information Act Appeal.”
(b) Action on appeals by the Office of Independent Counsel. Unless Independent Counsel otherwise directs, his designee shall act on behalf of the Independent Counsel on all appeals under this section, except that a denial of a request by Independent Counsel shall constitute the final action of the Office on that request.
(c) Form of action on appeal. The disposition of an appeal shall be in writing. A decision affirming in whole or in part the denial of a request shall include a brief statement of the reason or reasons for the affirmance, including each FOIA exemption relied upon and its relation to each record withheld, and a statement that judicial review of the denial is available in the United States District Court for the judicial district in which the requester resides or has his principal place of business, the judicial district in which the requested records are located, or the District of Columbia. If the denial of a request is reversed on appeal, the requester shall be so notified and the request shall be processed promptly in accordance with the decision on appeal.
§701.17 Preservation of records.
The Office shall preserve all correspondence relating to the requests it receives under this part, and all records processed pursuant to such requests, until such time as the destruction of such correspondence and records is authorized pursuant to title 44 of the United States Code. Under no circumstances shall records be destroyed while they are the subject of a pending request, appeal, or lawsuit under the FOIA.
(a) In general. Fees pursuant to the FOIA shall be assessed according to the schedule contained in paragraph (b) of this section for services rendered by the Office in responding to and processing requests for records under this part. All fees so assessed shall be charged to the requester, except when the charging of fees is limited under paragraph (c) of this section or when a waiver or reduction of fees is granted under paragraph (d) of this section. The Office shall collect all applicable fees before making copies of requested records available to a requester. Requesters shall pay fees by check or money order made payable to the Treasury of the United States.
(b) Charges. In responding to requests under this part, the following fees shall be assessed, unless a waiver or reduction of fees has been granted pursuant to paragraph (d) of this section:
(1) Search. (i) No search fee shall be assessed with respect to requests by educational institutions, noncommercial scientific institutions, and representatives of the news media (as defined in paragraphs (j)(6), (j)(7), and (j)(8) of this section, respectively). Search fees shall be assessed with respect to all other requests, subject to the limitations of paragraph (c) of this section. The Office may assess fees for time spent searching even if it fails to locate any respective record or when records located are subsequently determined to be entirely exempt from disclosure.
(ii) For each quarter hour spent by clerical personnel in searching for and retrieving a requested record, the fee shall be $2.25. When the search and retrieval cannot be performed entirely by clerical personnel—for example, when the identification of records within the scope of the request requires the use of professional personnel—the fee shall be $4.50 for each quarter hour of search time spent by such professional personnel. When the time of managerial personnel is required, the fee shall be $7.50 for each quarter hour of time spent by such managerial personnel.
(iii) For computer searches of records, which may be undertaken through the use of existing programming, requesters shall be charged the actual direct costs of conducting the search, although certain requesters (as defined in paragraph (c)(2) of this section) shall be entitled to the cost equivalent of two hours of manual search time without charge. These direct costs shall include the cost of operating a central processing unit for that portion of operating time that is directly attributable to searching for records responsive to a request, as well as the costs of operator/programmer salary apportionable to the search (at no more than $4.50 per quarter hour of time so spent). The Office is not required to alter or develop programming to conduct a search.
(2) Duplication. Duplication fees shall be assessed with respect to all requesters, subject to the limitations of paragraph (c) of this section. For a paper photocopy of a record (no more than one copy of which need be supplied), the fee shall be $0.10 per page. For other methods of duplication, the Office shall charge the actual direct costs of duplicating a record.
(3) Review. Review fees shall be assessed with respect to only those requesters who seek records for a commercial use, as defined in paragraph (j)(5) of this section. For each quarter hour spent by agency personnel in reviewing a requested record for possible disclosure, the fee shall be $4.50, except that when the time of professional personnel is required, the fee shall be $7.50 for each quarter hour of time spent by such managerial personnel. Review fees shall be assessed only for the initial record review, i.e., all of the review undertaken when the Office analyzes the applicability of a particular exemption to a particular record or record portion at the initial request level. No charge shall be assessed for review at the administrative appeal level of an exemption already applied. However, records or record portions withheld pursuant to an exemption that is subsequently determined not to apply may be reviewed again to determine the applicability of other exemptions not previously considered. The costs of such a subsequent review are properly assessable, particularly when that review is made necessary by a change of circumstances.
(c) Limitations on charging fees. (1) No search or review fee shall be charged for a quarter-hour period unless more than half of that period is required for search or review.
(2) Except for requesters seeking records for a commercial use (as defined in paragraph (j)(5) of this section), the Office shall provide without charge
(i) The first 100 pages of duplication (or its cost equivalent), and
(ii) The first two hours of search (or its cost equivalent).
(3) Whenever a total fee calculated under this section is $8.00 or less, no fee shall be charged.
(4) The provisions of paragraphs (c) (2) and (3) of this section work together. For requesters other than those seeking records for a commercial use, no fee shall be charged unless the cost of search in excess of two hours plus the cost of duplication in excess of 100 pages exceeds $8.00.
(d) Waiver or reduction of fees. (1) Records responsive to a request under the FOIA shall be furnished without charge or at a charge reduced below that established under paragraph (b) of this section when the Officer determines, based upon information provided by a requester in support of a fee waiver request or otherwise made known to the Office, that disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester. Requests for a waiver or reduction of fees shall be considered on a case-by-case basis.
(2) In order to determine whether the first fee waiver requirement is met—i.e., that disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of government—the Office shall consider the following four factors in sequence:
(i) The subject of the request: Whether the subject of the requested records concerns “the operations or activities of the government.” The subject matter of the requested records, in the context of the request, must specifically concern the identifiable operations of the federal government—with a connection that is direct and clear, not remote or attenuated. Furthermore, the records must be sought for their informative value with respect to those government operations or activities; a request for access to records for their intrinsic informational content alone would not satisfy this threshold consideration.
(ii) The informative value of the information to be disclosed: Whether the disclosure is “likely to contribute” to an understanding or government operations or activities. The disclosable portions of requested records must be meaningfully informative or specific governmental operations or activities in order to hold potential for contributing to increased public understanding of those operations and activities. The disclosure of information that already is in the public domain, in either a duplicative or a substantially identical form, would not be likely to contribute to such understanding, as nothing new would be added to the public record.
(iii) The contribution to an understanding of the subject by the public likely to result from disclosure: Whether disclosure of the requested information will contribute to “public understanding.” The disclosure must contribute to the understanding of the public at large, as opposed to the individual understanding of the requester or a narrow segment of identified persons. A requester's identity and qualifications—e.g., expertise in the subject area and ability and intention to convey effectively information to the general public—should be considered. It reasonably may be presumed that a representative of the news media (as defined in paragraph (j)(8) of this section) who has access to the means of public dissemination readily will be able to satisfy this consideration. Requests from libraries or other record repositories (or requesters who intend merely to disseminate information to such institutions) shall be analyzed, like those of other requesters, to identify a particular person who represents that he actually will use the requested information in scholarly or other analytic work and then disseminate it to the general public.
(iv) The significance of the contribution to public understanding: Whether the disclosure is likely to contribute “significantly” to public understanding of government operations or activities. The public's understanding of the subject matter in question, as compared to the level of public understanding existing prior to the disclosure, must be likely to be enhanced by the disclosure to a significant extent. The Office shall not make separate value judgments as to whether information, even though it in fact would contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government, is “important” enough to be made public.
(3) In order to determine whether the second fee waiver requirement is met—i.e., that disclosure of the requested information is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester—the Office shall consider the following two factors in sequence:
(i) The existence and magnitude of a commercial interest: Whether the requester has a commercial interest that would be furthered by the requested disclosure. The Office shall consider all commercial interests of the requester (with reference to the definition of “commercial use” in paragraph (j)(5) of this section), or any person on whose behalf the requester may be acting, but shall consider only those interests that would be furthered by the requested disclosure. In assessing the magnitude of identified commercial interests, consideration shall be given the role that such FOIA-disclosed information plays with respect to those commercial interests, as well as to the extent to which FOIA disclosures serve those interests overall. Requesters shall be given a reasonable opportunity in the administrative process to provide information bearing upon this consideration.
(ii) The primary interest in disclosure: Whether the magnitude of the identified commercial interest of the requester is sufficiently large, in comparison with the public interest in disclosure, that disclosure is “primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.” A fee waiver or reduction is warranted only when, once the “public interest” standard set out in paragraph (d)(2) of this section is satisfied, that public interest can fairly be regarded as greater in magnitude than that of the requester's commercial interest in disclosure. The Office shall ordinarily presume that, where a news media requester has satisfied the “public interest” standard, that will be the interest primarily served by disclosure to that requester. Disclosure to data brokers or others who compile and market governmental information for direct economic return shall not be presumed to serve primarily the “public interest.”
(4) When only a portion of the requested records satisfies both of the requirements for a waiver or reduction of fees under this paragraph, a waiver or reduction shall be granted only as to that portion.
(5) Requests for the waiver or reduction of fees shall address each of the factors listed in paragraphs (d) (2) and (3) of this section, as they apply to each record request.
(e) Notice of anticipated fees in excess of $25.00. When the Office determines or estimates that the fees to be assessed under this section may amount to more than $25.00, the Office shall notify the requester as soon as practicable of the actual or estimated amount of the fees, unless the requester has indicated in advance his willingness to pay fees as high as those anticipated. (If only a portion of the fee can be estimated readily, the Office shall advise the requester that the estimated fee may be 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 30-day 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 printing 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 page-by-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 even 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 further 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.