32 CFR 293.6 - Procedures.
(a) Administration of the FOIA program. GC receives all FOIA requests submitted to NIMA, logs the requests into a database, and initiates the record search. If a final response cannot be made to the FOIA requester within the statutory time requirement of 20 working days, GC advises the requester of this fact and explains how the FOIA request will be processed within a multi-track processing system. As part of the administration FOIA process, GC:
(1) Assesses and collects fees for costs associated with processing FOIA requests, and approves or denies requests for fee waivers. Fees collected are forwarded through the Financial Management Directorate (CFO) to the U.S. Treasury.
(2) Approves or denies requests for expedited processing.
(3) Sends a “no records” response to FOIA requesters after a records search reveals that no Agency records exist that are responsive to the FOIA request.
(4) Provides training with NIMA on the FOIA law and Agency processing procedures.
(5) Conducts periodic reviews of NIMA's FOIA program.
(6) Maintains a public reading room for inspecting and copying Agency records and arranges appointments for access to reading room records.
(7) Maintains an “electronic” reading room for Agency records, an index for frequently requested records, a FOIA handbook, and other material as required by the FOIA on a public Internet website.
(8) Coordinates with other DoD Components, other members of the Intelligence Community, or the Department of Justice, as needed, on FOIA requests referred to NIMA.
(9) Coordinates with other DoD Components, other members of the Intelligence Community, or the Department of Justice, as needed, prior to releasing any records under the FOIA that may also be pertinent to litigation pending against the United States.
(10) Prepares the Annual Report - Freedom of Information Act (DD Form 2564) and forwards the report to the Directorate for Freedom of Information and Security Review, Washington Headquarters Services.
(11) Coordinates responses to all news media requests with the Public Affairs Office (PA) and congressional inquiries with CA.
(12) Coordinates denials of access to Agency records with NIMA's IDA and AA and prepares a legal synopsis and recommendation for release or denial of the record.
(13) Maintains FOIA case files in accordance with the NIMA records management schedules in NI 8040.1.
(b) Searching for responsive NIMA records. (1) GC forwards a copy of the FOIA request to the appropriate Agency POC. The POC fowards the request to the Office most likely to hold or maintain the records being requested.
(2) The Office conducts a search for records responsive to the FOIA request. all NIMA offices must promptly conduct searches to locate records responsive to a FOIA request, even if the search is likely to reveal classified, sensitive, or for official use only (FOUO) records. A reasonable search includes the search of all activities and locations most likely to have the records that have not been transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
(3) If a reasonable search does not identify or locate records responsive to the request, the Office must provide GC with a “no records” response and provide a recommendation of other Offices in which to conduct the search.
(4) If a reasonable search identifies or locates records responsive to the request, the Office must send two copies of the responsive record to GC and provide a recommendation regarding releasability of the record. Any objection to release of the record must be based on one or more of the FOIA exemptions. The office must also complete and forward DD Form 2086 or DD Form 2086-1, as appropriate, detailing the time and cost incurred in the search, review, and copying of the responsive records.
(5) FOUO records. When an office has identified FOUO records that are responsive to a FOIA request, the record must be evaluated to determine whether any FOIA exemptions are applicable to withhold either the entire record or portions of the record from release. Unless the requested record clearly falls into one or more of the FOIA exemptions, an FOUO marking all not prevent a record from being released to the FOIA requester.
(6) All Offices promptly forward or return any misaddressed FOIA requests to GC.
(c) Mandatory declassification review. When a request for a declassification review is received, or when an office has identified classified records that are responsive to a FOIA request and has forwarded copies to GC, GC forwards one copy of the record to the MDO for a declassification review. The MDO works with the declassification POC to determine if the record in question is currently and properly classified under Executive Order 12958, and if any information contained in the record may be segregated for release to the FOIA requester. The MDO forwards the results of the declassification review to GC, in writing, along with any recommendations on whether information in the record can be reasonably segregated and released to the FOIA requester.
(d) Withholding Agency records from public release. If the requested record is not releasable because it is either currently and properly classified or falls within another FOIA exemption, GC prepares an analysis on the rationale for denying the record, prepares the initial denial letter to be sent to the FOIA requester, and forwards the materials to the Agency IDA. The Agency IDA reviews the FOIA request and rationale for withholding the record and, if he or she concurs, signs the letter prepared by GC. The letter signed by the Agency IDA advises the FOIA requester that the records requested are being withheld from release, states the amount of material withheld from release, states the FOIA exemptions supporting the denial, and provides information on appealing the decision to the Agency AA. A copy of all initial denial letters is forwarded to GC and maintained in the individual FOIA file.
(e) Appeal rights of FOIA requesters.
(1) If a FOIA requester appeal the initial denial decision of the agency IDA, GC processes the appeal for review by the agency AA. The AA reviews the initial FOIA request, GC's analysis, and the denial decision made by the IDA. The AA has the authority to either uphold the decision made by the IDA, and withhold the requested records from release, or reverse the decision made by the IDA and release all or a portion of the records requested. GC prepares the written response to the FOIA requester for the AA's signature. If the AA makes a final determination to uphold the decision made by the agency IDA, the final Agency response includes the basis for the decision and advises the FOIA requester of the right to seek judicial review.
(2) In addition to denials of information, a FOIA requester also has a right to appeal initial assessments made by GC regarding fee categories, fee waivers, fee estimates, requests for expedited processing, no record determinations, failure to meet the statutory time limits, or any determination found to be adverse by the requester. The authority to uphold or reverse initial assessments made by GC in these areas is the agency AA. The decision of the AA is final.
(f) Relationship between the FOIA and the Privacy Act. Not all requesters will be knowledgeable of the appropriate act to cite when requesting records or access to records. In some instances, either the FOIA or the Privacy Act may be cited.
(1) Both the FOIA and the Privacy Act give the right to request access to records held by Federal Agencies. Access rights under the FOIA are given to any individual, business, or organization, but the Privacy Act gives access rights only to those individuals who are the subject of the records being requested.
(2) When responding to a request for records under the Privacy Act, detailed guidance on which act to apply may be found in 32 CFR part 286 and 32 CFR part 310. Additional assistance is also available from GC.