(a) Except for records required by the FOIA to be published in the Federal Register or to be made available in the public reading room, Peace Corps records will be made promptly available, upon request, to any person in accordance with this section, unless it is determined that such records should be withheld and are exempt form mandatory disclosure under the FOIA.
(b)Requests. Requests for records under this section shall be made in writing via regular mail, e-mail, or facsimile and, as applicable, the envelope, letter or subject line shall be clearly marked “Freedom of Information Request.” All requests shall be addressed to the FOIA Officer. Requests by letter shall use the address given in § 303.5(a) and requests by e-mail must be sent to the FOIA electronic mailbox address firstname.lastname@example.org. Any request not marked and addressed as specified in this paragraph will be so marked by Peace Corps personnel as soon as the request is properly identified. The request will then be forwarded immediately to the FOIA Officer. A request improperly addressed will not be deemed to have been received for purposes of the time period set out in paragraph (h) of this section until it has been received by the FOIA Officer. Upon receipt of an improperly addressed request, the FOIA Officer shall notify the requester of the date on which the time period began. The request shall be stamped “received” on the date it is received by the FOIA Office. Any request received by e-mail shall be printed on paper and stamped on the date it is received by the FOIA Office.
(c) A request must reasonably describe the records requested so that employees of the Peace Corps who are familiar with the subject area of the request are able, with a reasonable amount of effort, to determine which particular records are within the scope of the request. If it is determined that a request does not reasonably describe the records sought, the requester shall be so informed and provided an opportunity to confer with Peace Corps personnel in order to attempt to reformulate the request in a manner that will meet the needs of the requester and the requirements of this paragraph. If the Agency cannot identify the requested records after a 2 hour search, it can determine that the records were not adequately described and ask the requester to provide a more specific request.
(d) To facilitate the location of records by the Peace Corps, a requester should try to provide the following kinds of information, if known;
(1) The specific event or action to which the record refers;
(2) The unit or program of the Peace Corps which may be responsible for or may have produced the record;
(3) The date of the record or the date or period to which it refers or relates;
(4) The type of record, such as an application, a particular form, a contract, or a report;
(5) Personnel of the Peace Corps who may have prepared or have knowledge of the record; or
(6) Citations to newspapers or publications which have referred to the record.
(e) The Peace Corps is not required to create a record or to perform research to satisfy a request.
(f) Any request for a waiver or reduction of fees should be included in the FOIA request, and any such request should indicate the grounds for a waiver or reduction of fees, as set out in § 303.13(f). The Peace Corps shall respond to such request as promptly as possible.
(g)Format. The Peace Corps will provide records in the form or format indicated by the requester to the extent such records are readily reproducible in the requested form or format.
(1) The FOIA Officer, upon request for any records made in accordance with this section, except in the case of a request for OIG records, shall make an initial determination of whether to comply with or deny such request and dispatch such determination to the requester within 20 business days after receipt of such request, except for unusual circumstances, in which case the time limit may be extended for up to 10 business days by written notice to the requester setting forth the reasons for such extension and the date on which a determination is expected to be dispatched.
(2) If the FOIA Officer determines that a request or portion thereof is for OIG records, the FOIA Officer shall promptly refer the request or portion thereof to the OIG and send notice of such referral to the requester. In such case, the OIG FOIA Officer shall make an initial determination of whether to comply with or deny such request and dispatch such determination to the requester within 20 business days after receipt of such request, except for unusual circumstances, in which case the time limit may be extended for up to 10 business days by written notice to the requester setting forth the reasons for such extension and the date on which a determination is expected to be dispatched. If for any reason, a request for Agency information goes directly to the OIG rather than through the FOIA Officer, the OIG shall provide notice to the FOIA Officer of its receipt of the request. The FOIA Office and the OIG should normally consult with each other whenever they receive requests for the same or similar records.
(3)Unusual circumstances. As used in this part, “unusual circumstances” are limited to the following, but only to the extent reasonably necessary for the proper processing of the particular request:
(i) The need to search for and collect the requested records from components or locations that are separate from the office processing the request;
(ii) The need to search for, collect, and appropriately examine a voluminous amount of separate and distinct records which are demanded in a single request; or
(iii) The need for consultation, which shall be conducted with all practicable speed, with another agency or organization having a substantial interest in the determination of the request or among two or more components of the Peace Corps having a substantial subject matter interest therin.
(i) If a request is particularly broad or complex so that it cannot be completed within the time periods stated in paragraph (h) of this section, the Peace Corps may ask the requester to narrow the request or agree to an additional delay.
(j) When no determination can be dispatched within the applicable time limit, the FOIA Officer or the OIG FOIA Officer shall inform the requester of the reason for the delay, the date on which a determination may be expected to be dispatched, and the requester's right to treat the delay as a denial and to appeal to the Associate Director for the Office of Management or the Inspector General, in accordance with § 303.12. If no determination has been dispatched by the end of the 20-day period, or the last extension thereof, the requester may deem the request denied, and exercise a right of appeal in accordance with § 303.12. The FOIA Officer or the OIG FOIA Officer may ask the requester to forego an appeal until a determination is made.
(k) After it has been determined that a request will be granted, the responsible official will act with due diligence in providing a prompt response.
(1) Requests and appeals will be taken out of order and given expedited treatment whenever the requester demonstrates a compelling need. A compelling need means:
(i) Circumstances in which the lack of expedited treatment could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual;
(ii) An urgency to inform the public about an actual or alleged Peace Corps or Federal government activity and the request is made by a person primarily engaged in disseminating information;
(iii) The loss of substantial due process rights; or
(iv) a matter of widespread and exceptional media interest in which there exist possible questions about the Peace Corps' or the Federal government's integrity which affect public confidence.
(2) A request for expedited processing may be made at the time of the initial request for records or at any later time. For a prompt determination, a request for expedited processing must be properly addressed and marked and received by the Peace Corps pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section.
(3) A requester who seeks expedited processing must submit a statement demonstrating a compelling need that is certified by the requester to be true and correct to the best of that person's knowledge and belief, explaining in detail the basis for requesting expedited processing.
(4) Within ten business days of its receipt of a request for expedited processing, the FOIA Officer or the OIG FOIA Officer shall decide whether to grant the request and shall notify the requester of the decision. If a request for expedited treatment is granted, the request shall be given priority and shall be processed as soon as practicable. If a request for expedited processing is denied, any appeal of that decision shall be acted on expeditiously by the Peace Corps.
(5) Appeals shall be made to the Associate Director for the Office of Management, who shall respond within 10 business days of receipt of the appeal.