Title 11

SECTION 9405.11

9405.11 Miscellaneous fee provisions.

§ 9405.11 Miscellaneous fee provisions.

(a) Charging Interest - notice and rate. The Commission may begin assessing interest charges on an unpaid bill starting on the 31st day following the day on which the billing was sent. The fact that the fee has been received by the Commission within the 30-day grace period, even if it is not processed, will suffice to stay the accrual of interest. Interest will be at the rate prescribed in section 3717 of title 31 of the United States Code and will accrue from the date of the billing.

(b) Charges for unsuccessful search. The Commission may assess charges for time spent searching, even if it fails to locate the records or if the records located are determined to be exempt from disclosure. If the Commission estimates that search charges are likely to exceed $25, it shall notify the requester of the estimated amount of fees, unless the requester has indicated in advance his willingness to pay fees as high as those anticipated. Such a notice shall offer the requester the opportunity to confer with agency personnel with the object of reformulating the request to meet his or her needs at a lower cost.

(c) Aggregating requests. A requester may not file multiple requests at the same time, each seeking portions of a document or documents, solely in order to avoid payment of fees. When the Commission reasonably believes that a requester or a group of requestors acting in concert has submitted requests that constitute a single request involving clearly related matters, the Commission may aggregate those requests and charge accordingly. One element to be considered in determining whether a belief would be reasonable is the time period over which the requests have occurred.

(d) Advance payments. The Commission may not require a requester to make an advance payment (i.e., payment before work is commenced or continued on a request) unless:

(1) The Commission estimates or determines that allowable charges that a requester may be required to pay are likely to exceed $250. Then, the Commission will notify the requester of the likely cost and obtain satisfactory assurance of full payment where the requester has a history of prompt payment of FOIA fees or require an advance payment of an amount up to the full estimated charges in the case of requesters with no history of payment; or

(2) A requester has previously failed to pay a fee charged in a timely fashion (i.e., within 30 days of the date of the billing). Then, the Commission may require the requester to:

(i) Pay the full amount owed plus any applicable interest as provided above or demonstrate that he or she has, in fact, paid the fee, and

(ii) Make an advance payment of the full amount of the estimated fee before the agency begins to process a new request or a pending request from that requester.

(3) When the Commission acts under paragraphs (d)(1) or (2) of this section, the administrative time limits prescribed in 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(6) will begin only after the Commission has received payments described in paragraphs (d)(1) and (2) of this section.

(e) Effect of Debt Collection Act of 1982. The Commission shall comply with the provisions of the Debt Collection Act, including disclosure to consumer reporting agencies and use of collection agencies, where appropriate, to encourage repayment.