39 CFR 265.5 - Timing of responses to requests.
(a)In general. Requests will ordinarily be responded to according to their order of receipt. A request that is not initially submitted to the appropriate FOIA RSC will be deemed to have been received by the Postal Service at the time that it is actually received by the appropriate FOIA RSC or at the time the request is referred to the appropriate records custodian by a FOIA RSC, but in any case a request will be deemed to have been received no later than 10 business days after the request is first received by a FOIA RSC.
(1) Unless expedited processing has been granted, the Postal Service places each request in simple or complex tracks based on the amount of work and time involved in processing the request. Factors considered in assigning a request into the complex track may include one or more of the following factors:
(i) The request involves voluminous documents;
(ii) The complexity of the material;
(iii) The request involves record searches at multiple facilities or locations;
(iv) The request requires consultation among components or other agencies;
(v) The number of open requests submitted by the same requester.
(2) Within each track, the Postal Service processes requests in the order in which they are received. When appropriate, the FOIA RSC or the component will notify the requester if it has placed the request in the “Complex” track, and provide the requester with an opportunity to limit the scope of the request. If the requester limits the scope of the request, it may result in faster processing.
(1) Requests and appeals shall be processed 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;
(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 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 (e)(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. The existence of numerous articles published on a given subject can be helpful in establishing the requirement that there be an “urgency to inform” the public on the topic. As a matter of administrative discretion, a component may waive the formal certification requirement.
(3) A component shall 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 shall be given priority, placed in the processing track for expedited requests, and shall be processed as soon as practicable. If a request for expedited processing is denied, any appeal of that decision shall be acted on expeditiously
(d)Unusual circumstances. Whenever the statutory time limit for processing a request cannot be met because of “unusual circumstances”, as defined in the FOIA, and the component extends the time limit on that basis, the component shall, before the expiration of the 20-day period to respond, notify the requester in writing of the unusual circumstances involved and of the date by which processing of the request can be expected to be completed. Where the extension exceeds 10 working days, the component shall, as described by the FOIA, provide the requester with an opportunity to modify the request or arrange an alternative time period for processing and alert the requester to the availability of the Office of Government Information Services to provide dispute resolution services. The component shall make available its designated FOIA contact and its FOIA Public Liaison for this purpose.
(e)Aggregating requests. For the purposes of satisfying unusual circumstances under the FOIA, the Postal Service may aggregate requests in cases where it reasonably appears that multiple requests, submitted either by a single requester or by a group of requesters acting in concert, constitute a single request that would otherwise involve unusual circumstances. Multiple requests that involve unrelated matters shall not be aggregated.