22 CFR 706.31 - Timing of responses to requests.

§ 706.31 Timing of responses to requests.

(a)In general. OPIC ordinarily will process requests according to their order of receipt within their appropriate track under paragraph (b) of this section. The response time will commence on the date that the request is received by the FOIA Office, but in any event not later than ten working days after the request is first received by OPIC. Any time tolled under sub paragraph (c) of this section does not count against OPIC's response time.

(b)Multitrack processing. OPIC has a track for requests that are granted expedited processing, in accordance with the standards set forth in paragraph (f) of this section. Non-expedited requests will be placed into a “simple” or “complex” track based on the estimated amount of work or time needed to process the request. OPIC will consider the number of records requested, the number of pages involved in processing the request, and the need for consultations or referrals. OPIC will advise the requester into which track the request falls and, when appropriate, will offer requesters the opportunity to narrow or modify the request so that it can be placed in a different track.

(c)Tolling of response time. OPIC may toll its response time once to seek clarification of a request in accordance with § 706.11(b) or as needed to resolve fee issues in accordance with §§ 706.22(c) and 706.23(d) of this part. The response time will resume upon OPIC's receipt of the requester's clarification or upon resolution of the fee issue.

(d)Unusual circumstances. Whenever the statutory time limits for processing cannot be met because of “unusual circumstances” as defined in the FOIA, and OPIC extends the time limits on that basis, OPIC will notify the requester in writing of the unusual circumstances involved and of the date by which OPIC estimates processing of the request will be completed. Where the extension exceeds ten working days, the requester will be provided an opportunity to modify the request or agree to an alternative time period for processing the original or modified request. OPIC will make its FOIA Office and its FOIA Public Liaison available for this purpose and will notify the requester of the availability of the Office of Government Services (OGIS) dispute resolution services.

(e)Aggregating requests. For the purposes of satisfying unusual circumstances under the FOIA, OPIC may aggregate requests in cases where it reasonably appears that multiple requests, submitted either by a requester or by a group of requesters acting in concert, constitute a single request that would otherwise involve unusual circumstances. OPIC will not aggregate multiple requests that involve unrelated matters.

(f)Expedited processing.

(1) Requests and appeals will be processed on an expedited basis whenever it is determined that they involve:

(i) Circumstances in which the lack of expedited processing could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual;

(ii) An urgency to inform the public about an actual or alleged Federal government activity, if made by a person who is primarily engaged in disseminating information;

(2) A request for expedited processing may be made at any time.

(3) A requester who seeks expedited processing must submit a statement, certified to be true and correct, explaining in detail the basis for making the request for expedited processing. For example, under paragraph (f)(1)(ii) of this section, a requester who is not a full-time member of the news media must establish that the requester is a person whose primary activity or occupation is information dissemination, though it need not be the requester's sole occupation. Such a requester also must establish a particular urgency to inform the public about the government activity involved in the request - one that extends beyond the public's right to know about government activity generally. The existence of numerous articles published on a given subject can be helpful in establishing the requirement that there be an “urgency to inform” the public on the topic. OPIC may waive the formal certification requirement in its administrative discretion.

(4) OPIC shall notify the requester within ten calendar days of the receipt of a request for expedited processing of its decision whether to grant or deny expedited processing. If expedited processing is granted, the request shall be given priority, placed in the processing track for expedited requests, and shall be processed as soon as practicable. If OPIC denies expedited processing, any appeal of that decision which complies with the procedures set forth in § 706.34 of this subpart shall be acted on expeditiously.

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