(a)General. The Board shall advise the requestor in writing of any applicable fees. If only a part of the fee can be estimated readily, the Board shall advise the requestor that this may be only a part of the total fee. After the requestor has been sent a fee estimate, the request shall not be considered received until the requestor makes a firm commitment to pay the anticipated total fee. Any such agreement must be made by the requestor in writing and must be received within 60 days of the Board's notice. If the requestor does not provide a firm commitment to pay the anticipated fee within 60 days of the notice, the request shall be closed. The requestor may be given an opportunity to work with the Board to change the request and lower the cost.
(b)Charges for other services. When the Board chooses as a matter of administrative discretion to provide a special service, such as certifying that records are true copies or sending them by other than ordinary mail, the Board shall pay the costs of providing the services unless previous arrangements have been made with the requestor.
(c)Charging interest. The Board may charge interest on any unpaid bill starting on the 31st day following the date of billing. Interest charges shall be assessed at the rate provided in 31 U.S.C. 3717 and shall accrue from the date of the billing until payment is received by the Board. The Board shall follow the provisions of the Debt Collection Act of 1982 (Pub. L. 97-365, 96 Stat. 1749), as amended.
(d)Aggregating requests. If the Board reasonably believes that a requestor or a group of requestors acting together is trying to divide a request into a series of smaller requests for the purpose of avoiding fees, the Board may aggregate the requests and charge accordingly. The Board shall assume that multiple requests of the same type made within a 30-day period have been made in order to avoid fees. If requests are separated by a longer period, the Board shall aggregate them only if there is a solid basis for determining that aggregation is warranted. Multiple requests involving unrelated matters shall not be aggregated.
(e)Advance payments. When a requestor has previously failed to pay promptly a properly charged FOIA fee to the Board or another agency, the Board shall require proof that full payment has been made to that agency before it begins to process that requestor's FOIA request. The Board shall also require advance payment of the full amount of the anticipated fee. When advance payment is required, the request is not considered received until payment has been made.
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