10 CFR § 1004.4 - Elements of a request.

§ 1004.4 Elements of a request.

(a) Addressed to the FOIA Officer. A request for a record of DOE which is not available for public inspection in an electronic format, as described in § 1004.3, shall be: Addressed to the Headquarters or appropriate field FOIA Officer at DOE at a location listed in § 1004.2(h), and both the envelope and the letter shall be clearly marked “Freedom of Information Act Request;” or submitted via facsimile or electronically, on an appropriate agency Web site. Except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section, a request will be considered to be received by DOE for purposes of 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(6) and the 20-day response period will start upon actual receipt by the appropriate FOIA Officer, or not later than ten days after receipt by a designated FOIA Officer at any location in § 1004.2(h). Requests delivered after regular business hours are considered received on the next regular business day.

(b) Request must be in writing and for reasonably described records. A request for access to records must be submitted in writing and must reasonably describe the records requested to enable DOE personnel to locate them with a reasonable amount of effort. Where possible, specific information regarding dates, titles, file designations, and other information which may help identify the records should be supplied by the requester, including the names and titles of any DOE officers or employees who have been contacted regarding the request prior to the submission of a written request. If the request relates to a matter in pending litigation, the court and its location should be identified to aid in locating the documents. If the records are known to be in a particular office of the DOE, the request should identify that office.

(c) Categorical requests.

(1) Must meet reasonably described records requirement. A request for all records falling within a reasonably specific and well-defined category shall be regarded as conforming to the statutory requirement that records be reasonably described if DOE personnel can reasonably determine which particular records are sought in the request. The request must enable the DOE to identify and locate the records sought by a process that is not unreasonably burdensome or disruptive of DOE operations. The FOIA Officer may take into consideration problems of search which are associated with the files of an individual office within the Department and determine that a request is not one for reasonably described documents as it pertains to that office.

(2) Assistance in reformulating a non-conforming request. If a request does not reasonably describe the records sought, as specified in paragraph (c)(1) of this section, the DOE response will specify the reasons why the request failed to meet the requirements of paragraph (c)(1) of this section and will invite the requester to confer with knowledgeable DOE personnel in an attempt to restate the request or reduce the request to manageable proportions by reformulation or by agreeing on an orderly procedure for the production of the records. If DOE responds that additional information is needed from the requester to render records reasonably described, any reformulated request submitted by the requester will be treated as an initial request for purposes of calculating the time for DOE response.

(d) Nonexistent records.

(1) 5 U.S.C. 552 does not require the compilation or creation of a record for the purpose of satisfying a request for records.

(2) 5 U.S.C. 552 does not require the DOE to honor a request for a record not yet in existence, even where such a document may be expected to come into existence at a later time.

(3) If a requested record is known to have been destroyed or otherwise disposed of, or if no such record is known to exist, the requester will be so notified.

(e) Assurance of willingness to pay fees. A request shall include (1) an assurance to pay whatever fees will be assessed in accordance with § 1004.9, (2) an assurance to pay those fees not exceeding some specified dollar amount, or (3) a request for a waiver or reduction of fees. No request will be deemed to have been received until the DOE has received some valid assurance of willingness to bear fees anticipated to be associated with the processing of the request or a specific request of a waiver or reduction of fees.

(f) Requests for records or information of other agencies. Some of the records in the files of the DOE have been obtained from other Federal agencies or contain information obtained from other Federal agencies.

(1) Where a document originated in another Federal agency, the Authorizing Official will refer the request to the originating agency and so inform the requester, unless the originator agrees to direct release by DOE.

(2) Requests for DOE records containing information received from another agency, or records prepared jointly by DOE and other agencies, will be treated as requests for DOE records except that the Authorizing Official will coordinate with the appropriate official of the other agency. The notice of determination to the requester, in the event part or all of the record is recommended for denial by the other agency, will cite the other agency Denying Official as well as the appropriate DOE Denying Official if a denial by DOE is also involved.

[53 FR 15661, May 3, 1988, as amended at 79 FR 22858, Apr. 25, 2014; 81 FR 94919, Dec. 27, 2016]