304.4 Responsibility for responding to requests.§ 304.4 Responsibility for responding to requests.
(a) In general. The agency will be responsible for responding to a request in all respects, except in the case of a referral to another agency as is described in paragraphs (b), (c), and (d) of this section. In determining which records are responsive to a request, the agency ordinarily will include only records in its possession and control as of the date upon which it begins its search for them. If any other date is used, the agency will inform the requester of that date.
(b) Consultations and referrals. When the agency receives a request for a record in its possession and control, it will determine whether another agency of the Federal Government is better able to determine whether the record is exempt from disclosure under the FOIA and, if so, whether it should be disclosed as a matter of administrative discretion. If the agency determines that it is best able to process the record in response to the request, then it will do so. If the agency determines that it is not best able to process the record, then it will either:
(1) Respond to the request regarding that record, after consulting with the agency that is best able to determine whether to disclose it and with any other agency that has a substantial interest in it; or
(2) Refer the responsibility for responding to the request regarding that record to another agency that originated the record (but only if that agency is subject to the FOIA). Ordinarily, the agency that originated a record will be presumed to be best able to determine whether to disclose it.
(c) Notice of referral. When the agency refers all or any part of the responsibility for responding to a request to another agency, it ordinarily will notify the requester of the referral and inform the requester of the name of the agency to which the request has been referred and of the part of the request that has been referred.
(d) Timing of responses to consultations and referrals. All consultations and referrals will be handled according to the date upon which the FOIA request initially was received by the first agency, and not any later date.
(e) Agreements regarding consultations and referrals. The agency may make agreements with other agencies designed to eliminate the need for consultations or referrals regarding particular types of records.