10 CFR 1004.5 - Processing requests for records.

§ 1004.5 Processing requests for records.

(a) FOIA Officers will be responsible for processing requests for records submitted pursuant to this part. Upon receiving such a request, the FOIA Officer will, except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, ascertain which Authorizing Official has responsibility for, custody of, or concern with the records requested. The FOIA Officer will review the request, consulting with the Authorizing Official where appropriate, to determine its compliance with § 1004.4. Where a request complies with § 1004.4, the FOIA Officer will acknowledge receipt of the request to the requester and forward the request to the Authorizing Official for action.

(b) The Authorizing Official will promptly identify and review the records encompassed by the request. The Authorizing Official or FOIA Officer will prepare a written response -

(1) Granting the request;

(2) Denying the request;

(3) Granting/denying it in part;

(4) Replying with a response stating that the request has been referred to another agency under § 1004.4(f) or § 1004.6(e); or

(5) Informing the requester that responsive records cannot be located or do not exist. The written response shall also notify the requester of the right to seek dispute resolution services from the DOE FOIA Public Liaison(s) or the Office of Government Information Services.

(c) Where a request involves records that are in the custody of or are the concern of more than one Authorizing Official, the FOIA Officer will identify all concerned Authorizing Officials that can reasonably be expected to have custody of the requested records. Upon identification of the appropriate Authorizing Officials, the FOIA Officer will forward them a copy of the request and a request for action. The Authorizing Officials will prepare a DOE response to the requester consistent with paragraph (b) of this section. The response will identify the Authorizing Official having responsibility for the determination to release or deny records.

(d)Time for processing requests.

(1) Action pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section will be taken within 20 days of a request for DOE records being received (“received” is defined in § 1004.4(a)), except that,

(i) One request can be made to the requester for information and the DOE can toll the 20-day response period while it waits for the requester's response;

(ii) If necessary to clarify with the requester issues regarding fee assessment and the DOE can toll the 20-day response period; or

(iii) If unusual circumstances require an extension of time before a decision on a request can be reached and the person requesting records is promptly informed in writing by the Authorizing Official or FOIA Officer of the reasons for such extension and the date on which a determination is expected to be dispatched, then the Authorizing Official or FOIA Officer may take an extension not to exceed ten days. In cases where the Authorizing Official determines that unusual circumstances exist, the requester shall be notified in writing of the right to seek dispute resolution services from the DOE FOIA Public Liaison(s) or the Office of Government Information Services.

(2) For purposes of this section and § 1004.8(d), the term “unusual circumstances” may include but is not limited to the following:

(i) The need to search for and collect the requested records from field facilities or other establishments that are separate from the offices processing the request;

(ii) The need to search for, collect and appropriately examine a voluminous amount of separate and distinct records which are responsive to a single request; or

(iii) The need for consultation, which shall be conducted with all practicable speed, with another agency having a substantial interest in the determination of the request, or among two or more components of the Department having substantial subject matter interest therein.

(3) The requester must be promptly notified in writing of the extension, the reasons for the extension, and the date on which a determination is expected to be made.

(4) If no determination has been made at the end of the 20-day period, or the last extension thereof, the requester may deem his administrative remedies to have been exhausted, giving rise to a right of review in a district court of the United States as specified in 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(4). When no determination can be made within the applicable time limit, the responsible Authorizing Official or FOIA Officer will nevertheless continue to process the request. If DOE is unable to provide a response within the statutory period, the Authorizing Official or FOIA Officer will inform the requester of the reason for the delay; the date on which a determination may be expected to be made; and the requester's right to seek remedy through the courts, but will ask the requester to forego such action until a determination is made.

(5) Nothing in this part shall preclude the Authorizing Official or FOIA Officer and a requester from agreeing to an extension of time for the initial determination on a request. Any such agreement will be confirmed in writing and will clearly specify the total time agreed upon.

(6) Expedited processing. Generally, the DOE will respond to requests in the order of receipt. Requests will be processed out of order and processed as soon as practicable when it is determined, based upon information supplied by the requester or otherwise known to the DOE, that a compelling need exists to provide the records in an expeditious manner. The FOIA states that a compelling need exists when failure to obtain records expeditiously could reasonably be expected to pose a threat to the life or physical safety of an individual or, when a request is submitted by a person primarily engaged in disseminating information and there is an urgency to inform the public about actual or alleged Federal Government activity.

(7) A determination to grant or deny a request for expedited processing will be made by the appropriate FOIA Officer within ten days after receipt of the request. The requester will be notified of the determination and informed that any denial may be appealed within 90 calendar days to the Office of Hearings and Appeals.

[ 53 FR 15661, May 3, 1988, as amended at 79 FR 22858, Apr. 25, 2014; 81 FR 94920, Dec. 27, 2016]

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