(a)General. The Board shall normally respond to requests in the order of their receipt.
(b)Acknowledgement of requests. On receipt of a request, the Board shall send an acknowledgement letter or an e-mail confirming the requestor's agreement to pay fees under § 201.8 and providing a request number for future reference.
(c)Time limits for responding to FOIA requests. The Board shall make an initial determination to grant or deny a request for records within 20 days (excluding Saturday, Sunday and holidays) after the date of receipt of the request, as described in § 201.5(d), except as stated in paragraph (f) of this section. Once the Board determines whether it can grant a request entirely or in part, it shall notify the requestor in writing. The Board shall advise the requestor of any fees to be charged under § 201.8 and shall disclose records promptly on payment of the fees. Records disclosed in part shall be marked or annotated to show the amount of information deleted unless doing so would harm an interest protected by an applicable exemption. The location of the information deleted also shall be indicated on the record when technically feasible.
(d)Unusual circumstances. (1) If the statutory time limits for processing a request cannot be met because of “unusual circumstances” as defined in the FOIA (5 U.S.C. 552(6)(B)(iii)), the Board shall promptly notify the requestor in writing, explaining the circumstances and giving the date by which the request can be completed or if the Board cannot complete the request. If the extension is for more than 10 working days, the Board shall provide the requestor with an opportunity to:
(i) Modify the request so that it can be processed within the time limit; or
(ii) Arrange an alternative time period for processing the original request.
(2) If the Board believes that multiple requests submitted by a requestor or by requestors acting in concert constitute a single request that would otherwise involve unusual circumstances, and if the requests involve clearly related matters, they may be aggregated. Multiple requests involving unrelated matters will not be aggregated.
(e)Expedited processing. (1) Requests and appeals shall be taken out of order and given expedited processing whenever it is determined that they involve:
(i) Circumstances that could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual; or
(ii) An urgency to inform the public about an actual or alleged activity if made by a person primarily engaged in disseminating information.
(2) Requests for expedited processing may be made either at the time of the initial request or at a later time.
(3) Requests for expedited processing must include a statement explaining in detail the basis for requesting expedited processing. For example, a requestor under § 201.8 must establish that his/her professional activity is news reporting, although it need not be his/her sole occupation. The requestor also must establish a particular urgency to inform the public about government activity involved in the request, beyond the public's right to know about government activity generally.
(4) Within 10 calendar days of receipt of a request for expedited processing, the Board shall decide whether to grant the request and notify the requestor of its decision. If a request for expedited treatment is granted, the request shall be processed as soon as practicable. If a request for expedited processing is denied, an appeal of that decision shall be acted on expeditiously.
(f)Tolling of time limits. (1) The Board may toll the 20-day time period to:
(i) Make one request for additional information from the requester; or
(ii) Clarify the applicability or amount of any fees, if necessary, with the requester.
(2) The tolling period ends upon the Board's receipt of information from the requester or resolution of the fee issue.
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