15 CFR § 4.7 - Responses to requests.

§ 4.7 Responses to requests.
Link to an amendment published at 86 FR 21934, Apr. 26, 2021.

(a) Acknowledgment of requests. Upon receipt of a request, a component ordinarily shall send an acknowledgement to the requester which shall provide an assigned tracking request number for further reference and, if necessary, confirm whether the requester is willing to pay fees. A component must send this acknowledgment if the request will take longer than ten working days to process. In most cases, the acknowledgement email, generated by the FOIAonline system, that is sent to requesters who provide an email address will suffice for this requirement.

(b) Interim responses. If a request involves voluminous records or requires searches in multiple locations, to the extent feasible, a component shall provide the requester with interim responses. Such responses may include records that are fully releasable or records that have been withheld in part under one or more applicable FOIA exemptions set forth at 5 U.S.C. 552(b). Bureaus will make reasonable efforts to provide to requesters an estimated date when a determination will be provided. An interim response is not a determination and appeal rights need not be provided with the interim response.

(c) Determination -

(1) Grants of requests. If a component makes a determination to grant a request in whole or in part, it shall notify the requester in writing of such determination.

(i) A component shall inform the requester:

(A) Of any fees charged under § 4.11; and

(B) That the requester may contact the relevant FOIA Public Liaison or FOIA contact for further assistance.

(ii) The component shall also disclose records to the requester promptly upon payment of any applicable fees.

(iii) Records disclosed in part shall be marked or annotated to show the applicable FOIA exemption(s) and the amount of information deleted, unless doing so would harm an interest protected by an applicable exemption. The location of the information deleted shall also be indicated on the record, if feasible.

(2) Adverse determinations of requests. If a component makes an adverse determination regarding a request, it shall notify the requester of that determination in writing.

(i) An adverse determination may be a denial of a request and includes decisions that:

(A) The requested record is exempt, in whole or in part.

(B) The request does not reasonably describe the records sought and the requester is unwilling to further clarify the request.

(C) The information requested is not a record subject to the FOIA.

(D) The requested record does not exist, cannot be located, or has previously been destroyed.

(E) The requested record is not readily reproducible in the form or format sought by the requester.

(ii) Adverse determinations may also include:

(A) Denials of requested fee category status.

(B) Denials of requests for fee waivers.

(C) Denials of requests for expedited processing.

(D) Denials of requests for reduction of fees.

(3) Content of denial. The denial letter shall be signed by an official listed in Appendix B to this part (or a designee), and shall include:

(i) The name and title or position of the person responsible for the denial;

(ii) A brief statement of the reason(s) for the denial, including any FOIA exemption(s) applied by the component in denying the request;

(iii) An estimate of the volume of any records or information withheld, by providing the number of pages or some other reasonable form of estimation. This estimate is not required if the volume is otherwise indicated by deletions marked on records that are disclosed in part, or if providing an estimate would harm an interest protected by an applicable FOIA exemption;

(iv) A statement advising the requester of the right to seek dispute resolution services from the Department FOIA Public Liaison, the relevant component FOIA Public Liaison or FOIA contact, or OGIS; and

(v) A statement that the denial may be appealed under § 4.10, and a list of the requirements for filing an appeal set forth in § 4.10(b).

[83 FR 39591, Aug. 10, 2018]