29 CFR 1610.9 - Responses: Timing.

§ 1610.9 Responses: Timing.

(a)In general. The Commission ordinarily will respond to requests according to their order of receipt. The various ways in which to submit a request to, or check on the status of a request with, EEOC are listed at: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/foia/index.cfm. The information located at www.foia.gov/report-makerequest.html contains a list of all agencies and components that are designated to accept requests. In instances involving misdirected requests that are re-routed pursuant to § 1610.7(d), the response time will commence on the date that the request is received by the proper component office that is designated to receive requests, but in any event not later than 10 working days after the request is first received by the component office that is designated by these regulations to receive requests.

(b)Multitrack processing. The Commission designates a specific track for requests that are granted expedited processing, in accordance with the standards set forth in paragraph (f) of this section. The Commission also designates additional processing tracks that distinguish between simple and more complex requests based on the estimated amount of work or time needed to process the request. Among the factors considered are the number of records requested, the number of pages involved in processing the request and the need for consultations or referrals. The Commission must advise requesters of the track into which their request falls and, when appropriate, will offer the requesters an opportunity to narrow or modify their request so that it can be placed in a different processing track.

(c)Acknowledgment. The Assistant Legal Counsel, FOIA Programs, the District Director, or the District Director's designee shall, within 10 days from receipt of a request, notify the requester in writing of the date the Commission received the request, the expected date of issuance of the determination, the individualized FOIA tracking number assigned to the request, and the telephone number or Internet site where requesters may inquire about the status of their request.

(d)Unusual circumstances. Whenever the Commission cannot meet the statutory time limit for processing a request because of “unusual circumstances,” as defined in the FOIA, and the Commission extends the time limit on that basis, the Commission must, before expiration of the 20-day period to respond, notify the requester in writing of the unusual circumstances involved and of the date by which the agency estimates processing of the request will be completed. Where the extension exceeds 10 working days, the agency must, as described by the FOIA, provide the requester with an opportunity to modify the request or arrange an alternative time period for processing the original or modified request. The Commission must make available its designated FOIA contact or its FOIA Public Liaison for this purpose. The contact information for the EEOC FOIA Public Liaison is located at: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/foia/index.cfm. A list of agency FOIA Public Liaisons is available at: http://www.foia.gov/report-makerequest.html. The Commission must also alert requesters to the availability of the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) to provide dispute resolution services.

(e)Aggregating requests. To satisfy unusual circumstances under the FOIA, the Commission 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. The Commission cannot aggregate multiple requests that involve unrelated matters.

(f)Expedited processing.

(1) The Commission must process requests and appeals 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; or

(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. Requests based on paragraphs (f)(1)(i) and (ii) of this section must be submitted to the Commission or component of the Commission that maintains the records requested. When making a request for expedited processing of an administrative appeal, the request should be submitted to the Commission's Office of Legal Counsel, the office that adjudicates appeals.

(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 professional 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. Depending on the circumstances, the existence of numerous recently published articles on a given subject may be helpful in establishing the requirement that there be an “urgency to inform” the public on the topic. This factor is not dispositive. As a matter of administrative discretion, the Commission may waive the formal certification requirement.

(4) The Commission must notify the requester within 10 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 must be given priority, placed in the processing track for expedited requests, and must be processed as soon as practicable. If a request for expedited processing is denied, the Commission must act on any appeal of that decision expeditiously.

(g)Tolling. The Commission may toll the statutory time period to issue its determination on a FOIA request one time during the processing of the request to obtain clarification from the requester. The statutory time period to issue the determination on disclosure is tolled until EEOC receives the information reasonably requested from the requester. The agency may also toll the statutory time period to issue the determination to clarify with the requester issues regarding fees. There is no limit on the number of times the agency may request clarifying fee information from the requester.

[ 81 FR 95873, Dec. 29, 2016]

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