(a) Authority. Bureaus are authorized to charge fees to recover the direct costs of searching for, reviewing (commercial-use requesters only) and duplicating documents to respond to a FOIA request. However, nothing in this subsection will supersede any statutory authority which requires the bureau to charge specific fees for certain types of records.
(b) Policy.(1) Unless waived under the criteria in § 2.19 or § 2.20, bureaus will charge fees for responding to FOIA requests consistent with the provisions of this section and the fee schedule in appendix C.
(2) A bureau normally will not charge a fee where the fee would be $30 or less. However, if the bureau has a reasonable basis to conclude that a requester or group of requesters has divided a request into a series of requests on a single subject or related subjects to avoid fees, the requests may be aggregated and fees charged accordingly. Bureaus may presume that multiple requests of this type that are made within a 30-day period have been made in order to avoid fees. Where requests are separated by a longer period, bureaus will aggregate them only where there exists a solid basis for determining that aggregation is warranted under all the circumstances involved. Multiple requests involving unrelated matters will not be aggregated.
(3) Where a bureau responds to a request on behalf of more than one bureau, the fees that would be chargeable by all bureaus involved will be considered in determining whether the total FOIA processing fee is $30 or less. If a bureau is responding on behalf of more than one bureau, and you fall under one of the fee categories in § 2.17(a)(2) or (a)(3), you will be entitled to receive up to a total of 100 pages of duplication without charge (there is no charge for searching for responsive records). If a bureau is responding on behalf of more than one bureau, and you fall under the fee category in § 2.17(a)(4), you will be entitled to receive up to a total of 100 pages of duplication and two hours of search time without charge.
(4) If a bureau obtains research data solely in response to your FOIA request, it may charge you a reasonable fee equaling the full cost of obtaining the research data from the recipient.
(c) Searches. Searches will be conducted in the most efficient and least expensive manner, so as to minimize costs for both you and the bureau. Except where provided in §§ 2.17(a)(2) and (a)(3), bureaus will charge for time spent in the following search activities:
(1) Time spent in trying to locate records which come within the scope of the request, whether or not documents responsive to the request are located or the records located are exempt from disclosure; and
(2) Direct costs involving the use of computer time to locate requested records.
(d) Reviews (Commercial-use requests only).(1) Bureaus will charge commercial-use requesters (see § 2.17(a)(1)) for time spent by bureau staff and attorneys in reviewing requested records for releasability. (See § 2.3(e).)
(2) Review costs will be assessed even if a record ultimately is not disclosed.
(e) Duplication. Bureaus will charge duplication fees according to the fee schedule in appendix C to this part.
(f) Categories of requesters. There are four categories of requesters for the purposes of determining fees—commercial-use, educational and noncommercial scientific institutions, news media, and all others. (See §§ 2.3 and 2.17.)
Title 43 published on 2011-10-01
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