29 CFR 1401.36 - Freedom of Information Act fee schedules.
(a) Definitions. For purposes of § 1401.36, the following definitions apply:
(1) Direct costs means those expenditures which are actually incurred in searching for and duplicating and, in the case of commercial use requesters, reviewing to respond to a FOIA request.
(2) Search means the process of looking for and retrieving records or information responsive to a request. It includes page-by-page or line-by-line identification of information within records and also includes reasonable efforts to locate and retrieve information from records maintained in electronic form or format.
(3) Duplication refers to the process of making a copy of a document necessary to respond to a FOIA request. Copies may be in various forms including machine-readable documentation (e.g. magnetic tape or disk) among others. A requester's specified preference of form or format of disclosure will be honored if the record is readily reproducible with reasonable efforts in the requested form or format.
(4) Review refers to the process of examining documents located in response to a request that is for commercial use, to determine whether a document or any portion of any document located is permitted to be withheld. It includes processing any documents for disclosure to the requester, e.g., doing all that is necessary to excise them or otherwise prepare them for release. It does not include time spent resolving general legal or policy issues regarding the applicability of particular exemptions or reviewing on appeal exemptions that are applied. However, records or portions withheld in full under an exemption that is subsequently determined not to apply may be reviewed again to determine the applicability of other exemptions not previously considered. The costs for such a subsequent review is assessable.
(5) Commercial use request refers to a request from or on behalf of one who seeks information for a use or purpose that furthers the commercial trade or profit interest of the requester or the person on whose behalf the request is made.
(6) Educational institution refers to a preschool, a public or private elementary or secondary school, an institution of undergraduate higher education, an institution of graduate or professional education or an institution of vocational education, which operates a program or programs of scholarly research.
(7) Representative of the news media refers to any person actively gathering news for an entity that is organized and operated to publish or broadcast news to the public. The term “news” means information that is about current events or that would be of current interest to the public. In the case of “freelance” journalists, they may be regarded as working for a news organization if they can demonstrate a reasonable expectation of publication through the organization, even though not actually employed by it.
(8) Non-commercial scientific institution refers to an institution that is not operated on a commercial basis as defined under “commercial use request” in paragraph (a)(5) of this section, and which is operated solely for the purpose of conducting scientific research, the results of which are not intended to promote any particular product or industry.
(b) Fee schedules and waivers. Requests submitted shall be subject to direct costs, including search, duplication and review, in accordance with the following schedules, procedures and conditions.
(1) Schedule of charges -
(i) Clerical time. For each one-quarter hour or portion thereof of clerical time, $4.00.
(ii) Professional time. For each one-quarter hour or portion thereof of profession time, $10.00.
(iii) Duplication. For each sheet of duplication (not to exceed 8 1/2 by 14 inches) of requested records, $.20.
(iv) Computer time. For computer searches of records, requestors will be charged the direct costs of conducting the search (as provided in paragraph (b)(3)(i) of this section), although certain requestors will be charged no search fee (as provided in paragraphs (b)(3)(ii) and (iii) of this section), and certain other requestors will be entitled to the cost equivalent of two hours of manual search time without charge (as provided in paragraph (b)(3)(iv) of this section). These direct costs will include the cost of operating a central processing unit for that portion of operating time that is directly attributable to the searching for responsive records, as well as the costs of operator/programmer salary attributable to the search. Computer time expressed in fractions of minutes will be rounded to the next whole minute.
(v) Certification or authorization of records. The fee per certification or authentication is $2.00.
(vi) Forwarding material to destination. No charge will be assessed for ordinary packaging and mailing costs. The FMCS may assess a charge if compliance with the request requires special handling procedures such as express mail or other unusual procedures. Such charges will be made on the basis of actual costs.
(vii) Other costs. All other direct costs of preparing a response to a request shall be charged to requester in the same amount as incurred by FMCS. Charges may also be assessed for searches even if the records requested are not found, or the records are determined to be exempted from disclosure.
(2) Rules of construction.
(i) In providing the foregoing schedules pursuant to the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(4)(A), it is the intent of FMCS to apply 29 CFR part 70 and the user charge statute, 31, U.S.C. 9701, to cover those situations in which the Agency is performing for a requester services other than those related to arbitration which are not required under the Freedom of Information Act.
(ii) For those matters coming within the scope of this regulation, the FMCS will look to the provisions of the guidance published by in the Office of Management and Budget's Uniform Fee Schedule and Guidelines (available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/inforeg/infopoltech.html) and the Department of Justice Attorney General's Memorandum on the 1986 Amendments to the Freedom of Information Act (available at http://www.usdoj.gov/04foia/04_7.html) for making such interpretations as necessary.
(3) Fee categories. Fees shall be determined in accordance with the following categories of requesters.
(i) Commercial use requesters will be assessed charges to recover the full direct cost of searching for, reviewing for release, and duplicating the records sought. This includes the full direct costs of computer production programming, searching and production of records. Commercial use requesters are not entitled to 2 hours of free search time nor 100 free pages of reproduction of documents, as described below.
(ii) Educational and non-commercial scientific institution requesters will be assessed charges for the cost of duplication alone, excluding charges for the first 100 pages. To be eligible for inclusion in this category, requesters must show that the request is being made under the auspices of a qualifying institution pursuant to the criteria in paragraphs (a)(6) and (a)(8) of this section, and that the records are not sought for commercial use, but are sought in furtherance of scholarly or scientific research.
(iii) Requesters who are representatives of the news media will be assessed charges for the cost of duplication alone, excluding charges for the first 100 pages. To be eligible for inclusion in this category, a requester must meet the criteria in paragraph (a)(7) of this section, and the request must not be made for a commercial use. A request for records supporting the news dissemination function of the requester shall not be considered to be a request that is for commercial use.
(iv) All other requesters will be assessed charges to recover the full reasonable direct costs of searching for and reproducing records that are responsive to the request, including costs of computer production programming, searching and production, except that the first 100 pages of reproduction, and the first 2 hours of search time shall be furnished without charge.
(v) In no event shall fees be charged when the total charges are less than $14.00, which is the Agency cost of collecting and processing the fee itself. If the request is expected to involve an assessed fee in excess of $14.00, the response shall specify or estimate the fee involved before the records are made available.
(4) Waiver or reduction of charge. A fee waiver must be requested at the same time that a request for records is made. The requester should provide an explanation of why the waiver is appropriate. If the request for a waiver or reduction is denied, the denial may be appealed to FMCS Deputy Director. In the appeal letter the requester should discuss whatever reasons are given in the denial letter. Documents may be furnished without charge or at reduced levels if FMCS determines that disclosure of the information is in the public interest; that is, because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the Government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.
(c) Fee payments.
(1) Payments shall be made by check or money order payable to “Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service” and shall be sent to: Director, Financial Management Staff, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, 2100 K Street NW., Washington, DC 20427.
(2) If a requester fails to pay chargeable fees that were incurred as a result of this Agency's processing of the information request, the Agency beginning on the 31st day following the date on which the notification of charges was sent, may assess interest charges against the requester in the manner prescribed in 31 U.S.C. 37l7.
(3) The Agency may use the provisions of the Debt Collection Act of 1982, (Pub. L. 97-365, 29 CFR part 1450) including disclosure to consumer reporting agencies, for the purpose of obtaining payment.
(d) Advance payments. FMCS may require a requester to make an advance payment of anticipated fees under the following circumstances:
(1) If the anticipated charges are likely to exceed $250, FMCS may notify the requestor of the likely cost and obtain satisfactory assurance of full payment when the requester has a history of prompt payment of FOIA fees, or require an advance payment of an amount up to the full estimated charges in the case of requesters with no history of payments.
(2) If a requester has previously failed to pay fees that have been charged in processing a request, within 30 days of the date when the notification of fees was sent, the requester may be required to:
(i) Pay the entire amount of fees that are owed, plus any applicable interest as provided for in paragraph (c)(2) of this section, and
(ii) To make an advance payment of the full amount of the estimated fee before the Agency will process the new pending request.