Pt. 2, App. D
Appendix D to Part 2
—Fee Waiver Criteria
If you are seeking a fee waiver, it is your responsibility to provide detailed information to support your request. You must submit this information with your FOIA request. You should explain the significance of the release of the information to the public's understanding of the Government's operations and activities based on your understanding of the type of information that you are requesting. Each fee waiver request is judged on its own merit—we do not grant “blanket” fee waivers, i.e., obtaining a fee waiver once does not mean you will obtain a subsequent fee waiver. Please note that inability to pay is not sufficient to justify a fee waiver.
(a) The statutory requirement for granting a fee waiver is that release of the information must be in the public interest because it—
(1) Is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations and activities of the Government; and
(2) Is not primarily in your commercial interest.
(b) In deciding whether you are entitled to a fee waiver, the bureau will consider the criteria in paragraphs (1) through (4), below. Your request for a fee waiver must address each of these criteria.
(1) How do the records concern the operations or activities of the Government?
(2) If the records concern the operations or activities of the Government, how will disclosure likely contribute to public understanding of these operations and activities?
(i) How are the contents of the records you are seeking meaningfully informative on the Department's or a bureau's operations and activities? Is there a logical connection between the content of the records and the operations or activities you are interested in?
(ii) Other than enhancing your knowledge, how will disclosure of the requested records contribute to the understanding of the public at large or a reasonably broad audience of persons interested in the subject?
(iii) Your identity, vocation, qualifications, and expertise regarding the requested information (whether you are affiliated with a newspaper, college or university, have previously published articles, books, etc.) may be relevant factors. However, merely stating that you are going to write a book, research a particular subject, or perform doctoral dissertation work, is insufficient, without demonstrating how you plan to disclose the information in a manner which will be informative to a reasonably broad audience of persons interested in the subject.
(iv) Do you have the ability and intention to disseminate the information to the general public or a reasonably broad audience of persons interested in the subject?
(A) How and to whom do you intend to disseminate the information?
(B) How do you plan to use the information to contribute to public understanding of the Government's operations or activities?
(3) If there is likely to be a contribution to public understanding, will release of the requested records contribute significantly to public understanding?
(i) Is the information being disclosed new?
(ii) Does the information being disclosed confirm or clarify data which has been released previously?
(iii) How will disclosure increase the level of public understanding of the operations or activities of the Department or a bureau that existed prior to disclosure?
(iv) Is the information already publicly available? If the Government previously has published the information you are seeking or it is routinely available to the public in a library, reading room, through the Internet, or as part of the administrative record for a particular issue (e.g., the listing of the spotted owl as an endangered species), it is less likely that there will be a significant contribution from release.
(4) Would disclosure be primarily in your commercial interest?
(i) Do you have a commercial interest that would be furthered by disclosure? A commercial interest is a commercial, trade, or profit interest as these terms are commonly understood. Your status as “profitmaking” or “non-profitmaking” is not the deciding factor. Not only profitmaking entities, but other organizations or individuals may have a commercial interest to be served by disclosure, depending on the circumstances involved.
(ii) If you do have a commercial interest that would be furthered by disclosure, would disclosure be primarily in that interest? Would the public interest in disclosure be greater than any commercial interest you or your organization may have in the documents? If so, how would it be greater?
(iii) Your identity, vocation, and the circumstances surrounding your request are all factors to be considered in determining whether disclosure would be primarily in your commercial interest. For example:
(A) If you are a representative of a news media organization seeking information as part of the news gathering process, we will presume that the public interest outweighs your commercial interest.
(B) If you represent a business/corporation/association or you are an attorney representing such an organization, we will presume that your commercial interest outweighs the public interest unless you demonstrate otherwise.
(c) If the bureau cannot make a determination based on the information you have provided, it may ask you for additional justification regarding your request.