38 CFR § 1.555 - Responsibility for responding to requests.

§ 1.555 Responsibility for responding to requests.

(a) General. Except as stated in paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section, the FOIA Officer of the component that first receives a request for records is responsible for either processing the request or referring it to the designated FOIA Officer for the appropriate component. Offices that are within the component responsible for processing the FOIA request shall provide the component FOIA Officer all documents responsive to the request that are in their possession as of the date the search for responsive records begins.

(b) Authority to grant or deny requests. Each component shall designate a FOIA Officer who is responsible for making determinations pursuant to the FOIA.

(c) Consultations and referrals. When a component FOIA Officer determines that the component maintains responsive records that either originated with another component or agency, or which contain information provided by, or of substantial interest to, another component or agency, then the FOIA Officer shall either:

(1) Respond to the request, after consulting with the component or the agency that originated or has a substantial interest in the records involved; or

(2) Refer the responsibility for responding to the request or portion of the request to the component best able to determine whether to disclose the relevant records, or to the agency that created or initially acquired the record as long as that agency is subject to the FOIA. Ordinarily, the component or agency that created or initially acquired the record will be presumed to be best able to make the disclosure assessment. The referring component shall document the referral and maintain a copy of the records that it refers.

(d) Classified information. The FOIA Officer will refer requests for records containing classified information to the component or agency that classified the information for processing.

(e) Notice of referral. Whenever a FOIA Officer refers all or part of a request and responsibility for processing the request to another component or agency, the FOIA Officer will notify the requester in writing of the referral and provide the requester the name and contact information of the entity to which the request has been referred, after consulting with the entity to which the request is to be referred to ensure that the request is being referred to the correct entity. If only part of the request was referred, the FOIA Officer will inform the requester and identify the referred part at the time of the referral or in the final response.

[76 FR 51894, Aug. 19, 2011]