40 CFR 1515.12 - Fees in general.
CEQ shall charge fees that recoup the full allowable direct costs it incurs in responding to FOIA requests. CEQ may assess charges for time spent searching for records even if CEQ fails to locate the records or if the records are located and determined to be exempt from disclosure. In general, CEQ shall apply the following fee schedule, subject to §§ 1515.13 through 1515.15:
(a)Manual searches. Time devoted to manual searches shall be charged on the basis of the salary of the employee(s) conducting the search (basic hourly rate(s) of pay for the employee(s), plus 16 percent).
(b)Electronic searches. Fees shall reflect the direct cost of conducting the search. This will include the cost of operating the central processing unit for that portion of operating time that is directly attributable to searching for and printing records responsive to the FOIA request and operator/programmer salary attributable to the search.
(c)Record reviews. Time devoted to reviewing records shall be charged on the same basis as under paragraph (a) of this section, but shall only be applicable to the review of records located in response to commercial use requests.
(d)Duplication. Fees for copying paper records or for printing electronic records shall be assessed at a rate of $.15 per page. For other types of copies such as disks or audio visual tapes, CEQ shall charge the direct cost of producing the document(s). If total costs are expected to exceed $25, the FOIA Officer shall provide the requester with an estimate in writing and, in return, obtain from the requester a commitment to pay the estimated fee. This does not apply if the requester has indicated in advance a willingness to pay fees as high as those anticipated. If a requester wishes to limit costs, the FOIA Officer shall provide the requester an opportunity to reformulate the request in order to reduce costs. If the requester reformulates a request, it shall be considered a new request and the 20-day period described in § 1515.6(a) shall be deemed to begin when the FOIA Officer receives the request.
(1)Advance payments required. The FOIA Officer may require a requester to make an advance deposit of up to the amount of the entire anticipated fee before the FOIA Officer begins to process the request if:
(i) The FOIA Officer estimates that the fee will exceed $250; or
(ii) The requester has previously failed to pay a fee in a timely fashion.
(2) When the FOIA Officer requires a requester to make an advance payment, the 20-day period described in § 1515.6(a) shall begin when the FOIA Officer receives the payment.
(f)No assessment of fee. CEQ shall not charge a fee to any requester if:
(1) The cost of collecting the fee would be equal to or greater than the fee itself; or
(2) After the effective date of these regulations CEQ fails to comply with a time limit under the Freedom of Information Act for responding to the request for records where no unusual or exceptional circumstances apply.