25 CFR 517.5 - Responsibility for responding to requests.
(a)In general. In determining which records are responsive to a request, the Commission ordinarily will include only records in its possession as of the date it begins its search for records. If any other date is used, the FOIA Officer shall inform the requester of that date.
(b)Authority to grant or deny requests. The FOIA Officer shall make initial determinations either to grant or deny in whole or in part a request for records.
(c)Granting of requests. When the FOIA Officer determines that the requested records shall be made available, the FOIA Officer shall notify the requester in writing and provide copies of the requested records in whole or in part. Records disclosed in part shall be marked or annotated to show the exemption applied to the withheld information and the amount of information withheld unless to do so would harm the interest protected by an applicable exemption. If a requested record contains exempted material along with nonexempt material, all reasonable segregable material shall be disclosed.
(d)Adverse Determinations. If the FOIA Officer makes an adverse determination denying a request in any respect, it must notify the requester of that adverse determination in writing. Adverse determinations include decisions that: The requested record is exempt from release, in whole or in part; the request does not reasonably describe the records sought; the information requested is not a record subject to the FOIA; the requested record does not exist, cannot be located, or has been destroyed; or the requested record is not readily reproducible in the form or format sought by the requester; denials involving fees or fee waiver matters; and denials of requests for expedited processing.
(e)Content of adverse determination. Any adverse determination issued by the FOIA Officer must include:
(1) A brief statement of the reasons for the adverse determination, including any FOIA exemption applied by the agency in denying access to a record unless to do so would harm the interest protected by an applicable exemption;
(2) An estimate of the volume of any records or information withheld, such as the number of pages or other reasonable form of estimation, although such an 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 exemption;
(3) A statement that the adverse determination may be appealed under § 517.8 of this part and a description of the appeal requirements; and
(4) A statement notifying the requester of the assistance available from the Commission's FOIA Public Liaison and the dispute resolution services offered by the Office of Government Information Services.
(f)Consultation, referral, and coordination. When reviewing records located in response to a request, the FOIA Officer will determine whether another agency of the Federal Government is better able to determine whether the record is exempt from disclosure under the FOIA. As to any record determined to be better suited for review by another Federal Government agency, the FOIA Officer must proceed in one of the following ways.
(1)Consultation. When records originating with the Commission contain information of interest to another Federal Government agency, the FOIA Officer should typically consult with that other entity prior to making a release determination.
(i) When the FOIA Officer believes that a different Federal Government agency is best able to determine whether to disclose the record, the FOIA Officer should typically refer the responsibility for responding to the request regarding that record to that agency. Ordinarily, the agency that originated the record is presumed to be the best agency to make the disclosure determination. If the Commission and another Federal Government agency jointly agree that the agency processing the request is in the best position to respond regarding the record, then the record may be handled as a consultation.
(ii) Whenever the FOIA Officer refers any part of the responsibility for responding to a request to another agency, he or she must document the referral, maintain a copy of the record that it refers, and notify the requester of the referral.
(iii) After the FOIA Officer refers a record to another Federal Government agency, the agency receiving the referral shall make a disclosure determination and respond directly to the requester. The referral of a record is not an adverse determination and no appeal rights accrue to the requester by this act.
(3)Coordination. The standard referral procedure is not appropriate where disclosure of the identity of the agency to which the referral would be made could harm an interest protected by an applicable exemption, such as the exemptions that protect personal privacy interests. For example, if the FOIA Officer in responding to a request for records on a living third party locates records originating with a criminal law enforcement agency, and if the existence of that law enforcement interest in the third party was not publicly known, then to disclose that law enforcement interest could cause an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of the third party. In such instances, in order to avoid harm to an interest protected by an applicable exemption, the FOIA Officer should coordinate with the originating agency to obtain its views on whether the record may be disclosed. The FOIA Officer should then convey the determination as to whether the record will be released to the requester.