Title 45


5.3 Definitions.

§ 5.3 Definitions.

The following definitions apply to this part:

Agency is defined at 5 U.S.C. 551(1). HHS is an agency. Private entities performing work under a contractual agreement with the government are not agencies for the purpose of this definition. However, information maintained on behalf of an agency under Government contract, for the purposes of records management, is considered an agency record.

Chief FOIA Officer means a senior official of HHS, at the Assistant Secretary or equivalent level, who has agency-wide responsibility for ensuring efficient and appropriate compliance with the FOIA, monitoring implementation of the FOIA throughout the agency, and making recommendations to the head of the agency to improve the agency's implementation of the FOIA. The Secretary of HHS has designated the Assistant Secretary, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA), as the Agency Chief FOIA Officer (ACFO); that official may be contacted at [email protected].

Commercial use means a use or purpose that furthers a commercial, trade, or profit interest of the requester or the person or entity on whose behalf the request is made.

Department or HHS means the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Deputy Agency Chief FOIA Officer (DACFO) means a designated official within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, who has been authorized by the Chief FOIA Officer to act upon their behalf to implement compliance with the FOIA, as described above. This official is also the approving review authority for FOIA administrative appeals.

Direct costs mean those expenses that an agency incurs in searching for and duplicating (and, in the case of commercial use requests, reviewing) records in order to respond to a FOIA request. For example, direct costs include the salary of the employee performing the work (i.e., the basic rate of pay for the employee, plus 16 percent of that rate to cover benefits) and the cost of operating computers and other electronic equipment, such as photocopiers and scanners. Direct costs do not include overhead expenses such as the costs of space, and of heating or lighting a facility.

Duplication means the process of making a copy of a record and sending it to the requester, to the extent necessary to respond to the request. Such copies include both paper copies and electronic records. Fees for duplication are further explained within § 5.52.

Educational institution means any school that operates a program of scholarly research. A requester in this fee category must show that the request is made in connection with his or her role at the educational institution. Agencies may seek assurance from the requester that the request is in furtherance of scholarly research.

Example 1.A request from a professor of geology at a university for records relating to soil erosion, written on letterhead of the Department of Geology, would be presumed to be from an educational institution. Example 2.A request from the same professor of geology seeking drug information from the Food and Drug Administration in furtherance of a murder mystery he is writing would not be presumed to be an institutional request, regardless of whether it was written on institutional stationery. Example 3.A student who makes a request in furtherance of their coursework or other school-sponsored activities and provides a copy of a course syllabus or other reasonable documentation to indicate the research purpose for the request, would qualify as part of this fee category.

Expedited processing means the process set forth in the FOIA that allows requesters to request faster processing of their FOIA request, if they can demonstrate a specific compelling need.

Fee category means one of the four categories established by the FOIA to determine whether a requester will be charged fees for search, review, and duplication. The categories are: commercial use requests; non-commercial scientific or educational institutions requests; news media requests; and all other requests. Fee categories are further explained within § 5.53.

Fee waiver means the waiver or reduction of fees if a requester is able to demonstrate that certain standards set forth in the FOIA and this part are satisfied, including that disclosure of the records 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.

First-party request means a request by an individual for records pertaining to that individual, or an authorized representative acting on such an individual's behalf.

FOIA Public Liaison means an agency official who reports to the agency Chief FOIA Officer and serves as a supervisory official to whom a requester can raise concerns about the service the requester has received from the FOIA Requester Service Center. This individual is responsible for assisting in reducing delays, increasing transparency and understanding of the status of requests, and assisting in the resolution of disputes.

FOIA request means a written request that reasonably describes the records sought.

FOIA library records are records that are required to be made available to the public without a specific request under 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(2). We make FOIA library records available to the public electronically through our Web pages (http://www.hhs.gov/foia/reading/index.html) and at certain physical locations. A list of the physical locations is available at http://www.hhs.gov/foia/contacts/index.html. Other records may also be made available at our discretion through our Web pages (http://www.hhs.gov).

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) means the law codified at 5 U.S.C. 552 that provides the public with the right to request agency records from Federal executive branch agencies. A link to the text of the FOIA is at https://www.justice.gov/oip/freedom-information-act-5-usc-552.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Officer means an HHS official who has been delegated the authority to release or withhold records; to assess, waive, or reduce fees in response to FOIA requests; and to determine whether to grant expedited processing. In that capacity, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Officer has the authority to task agency organizational components to search for records in response to a FOIA request, and to provide records located in their offices. Apart from records subject to proactive disclosure pursuant to subsection (a)(2) of the FOIA, only FOIA Officers have the authority to release or withhold records or to waive fees in response to a FOIA request. Our FOIA operations are decentralized, and each FOIA Requester Service Center has a designated official with this authority; the contact information for each FOIA Requester Service Center is available at http://www.hhs.gov/foia/contacts/index.html.

(1) The HHS Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Officer in the Office of the Secretary means the HHS official who in addition to overseeing the daily operations of the FOIA program in that office and having the authority of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Officer, is also responsible for the Department-wide administration and coordination of the FOIA and its implementing regulations and policies as they pertain to the programs and activities of the Department. This individual serves as the principal resource with respect to the articulation of procedures designed to implement and ensure compliance with the FOIA and its implementing regulations and policies as they pertain to the Department. This individual reports through the DACFO to the ACFO to support oversight and compliance with the OPEN Government Act.

(2) [Reserved]

Frequently requested records means records, regardless of form or format, that have been released to any person under the FOIA and that have been requested 3 or more times or because of the nature of their subject matter, the agency determines have become or are likely to become the subject of subsequent requests for substantially the same records.

Immediate Office of the Secretary (IOS) means offices within the Office of the Secretary, responsible for operations and work of the Secretary. It includes the Office of the Deputy Secretary, Office of the Chief of Staff, the Secretary's Counselors, the Executive Secretariat, the Office of Health Reform, and the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs.

Non-commercial scientific institution means an institution that is not operated to further a commercial, trade, or profit interest and that is operated solely for the purpose of conducting scientific research the results of which are not intended to promote any particular product or industry. A requester in this category must show that the request is authorized by and is made under the auspices of a qualifying institution and that the records are sought to further scientific research and are not for a commercial use.

Office of the Inspector General (OIG) means the Staff Division within the Office of the Secretary (OS), which is responsible for protecting the integrity of HHS programs and the health and welfare of the beneficiaries of those programs. OIG is responsible for processing FOIA requests for the records it maintains.

Office of the Secretary (OS) means the HHS's chief policy officer and general manager, who administers and oversees the organization, its programs and activities. The Deputy Secretary and a number of Assistant Secretaries and Staff Divisions support OS. The HHS FOIA Office within ASPA processes FOIA requests for records maintained by OS Staff Divisions other than the OIG. In certain circumstances and at the HHS FOIA Office's discretion, the HHS FOIA office may also process FOIA requests involving other HHS OpDivs, as further described in § 5.28(a).

Operating Division (OpDiv) means any of the following divisions within HHS which are subject to this regulation:

Office of the Secretary (OS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Administration for Community Living (ACL) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Indian Health Service (IHS) National Institutes of Health (NIH) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Operating Division and Staff Division Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Officers means the officials who are responsible for overseeing the daily operations of their FOIA programs in their respective Operating Divisions or Staff Divisions, with the full authority as described in the definition of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Officer. These individuals serve as the principal resource and authority for FOIA operations and implementation within their respective Operating Divisions or Staff Divisions.

Other requester means any individual or organization whose request does not qualify as a commercial-use request, representative of the news media request (including a request made by a freelance journalist), or an educational or non-commercial scientific institution request.

Record means any information that would be an agency record when maintained by an agency in any format, including an electronic format; and any information that is maintained for an agency by an entity under Government contract, for the purposes of records management.

Redact means delete or mark over.

Representative of the news media means any person or entity that actively gathers information of potential interest to a segment of the public, uses its editorial skills to turn raw materials into a distinct work, and distributes that work to an audience. 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 that broadcast news to the public at large and publishers of periodicals, including print and online publications that disseminate news and make their products available through a variety of means to the general public. We do not consider requests for records that support the news-dissemination function of the requester to be a commercial use. We consider “freelance” journalists who demonstrate a solid basis for expecting publication through a news media entity as working for that entity. A publishing contract provides the clearest evidence that a journalist expects publication; however, we also consider a requester's past publication record.

Review means examining records responsive to a request to determine whether any portions are exempt from disclosure. Review time includes processing a record for disclosure (i.e., doing all that is necessary to prepare the record for disclosure), including redacting the record and marking the appropriate FOIA exemptions.

Search means the process of identifying, locating, and retrieving records to find records responsive to a request, whether in hard copy or in electronic form or format.

Staff Division (StaffDiv) means an organization component that provides leadership, direction, and policy and management guidance to the Office of the Secretary and the Department. The following StaffDivs are subject to the regulations in this part:

Immediate Office of the Secretary (IOS) Assistant Secretary for Administration (ASA) Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources (ASFR) Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) Assistant Secretary for Legislation (ASL) Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA) Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Departmental Appeals Board (DAB) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Office of the General Counsel (OGC) Office of Global Affairs (OGA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (OMHA) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC)

Submitter means any person or entity, including a corporation, State, or foreign government, but not including another Federal Government entity, that provides commercial or financial information, either directly or indirectly to the Federal Government.

Tolling means temporarily stopping the running of a time limit. We may toll a request to seek clarification or to address fee issues, as further described in § 5.24.