32 CFR 701.44 - Restrictions.
(a) No fees may be charged by any DON activity if the costs of routine collection and processing of the fee are likely to equal or exceed the amount of the fee. With the exception of requesters seeking documents for a commercial use, activities shall provide the first 2 hours of search time, and the first 100 pages of duplication without charge. For example, for a request (other than one from a commercial requester) that involved 2 hours and 10 minutes of search time, and resulted in 105 pages of documents, an activity would determine the cost of only 10 minutes of search time, and only five pages of reproduction. If this processing cost was equal to, or less than, the cost to the activity for billing the requester and processing the fee collected, no charges would result.
(b) Requesters receiving the first 2 hours of search and the first 100 pages of duplication without charge are entitled to such only once per request. Consequently, if a DON activity, after completing its portion of a request, finds it necessary to refer the request to a subordinate office, another DON activity, or another Federal agency to action their portion of the request, the referring activity shall inform the recipient of the referral of the expended amount of search time and duplication cost to date.
(c) The elements to be considered in determining the “cost of collecting a fee” are the administrative costs to the DON activity of receiving and recording a remittance, and processing the fee for deposit in the Department of Treasury's special account. The cost to the Department of Treasury to handle such remittance is negligible and shall not be considered in activity determinations.
(d) For the purposes of the restrictions in this section, the word “pages” refers to paper copies of a standard size, which will normally be “8 1/2 × 11” or “11 × 14.” Thus, requesters would not be entitled to 100 microfiche or 100 computer disks, for example. A microfiche containing the equivalent of 100 pages or 100 pages of computer printout however, might meet the terms of the restriction.
(e) In the case of computer searches, the first 2 free hours will be determined against the salary scale of the individual operating the computer for the purposes of the search. As an example, when the direct costs of the computer central processing unit, input-output devices, and memory capacity equal $24.00 (2 hours of equivalent search at the clerical level), amounts of computer costs in excess of that amount are chargeable as computer search time. In the event the direct operating cost of the hardware configuration cannot be determined, computer search shall be based on the salary scale of the operator executing the computer search.