43 CFR 2.19 - When will bureaus waive fees?

§ 2.19 When will bureaus waive fees?
(a) Fees for processing your request may be waived if you meet the criteria listed in paragraph (b) of this section and appendix D to this part. The burden is on you to justify entitlement to a fee waiver. Requests for fee waivers are decided on a case-by-case basis. The fact that you have received a fee waiver in the past does not mean you are automatically entitled to a fee waiver for every request you may submit, because the essential element of any fee waiver determination is whether the release of the particular documents sought in the request will likely contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the Government. The bureau will rely on the fee waiver justification you have submitted in your request letter. If you do not submit sufficient justification, your fee waiver request will be denied. The bureau may, at its discretion, communicate with you to request additional information if necessary. However the bureau must make a determination on the fee waiver request within the statutory time limit, even if the agency has not received such additional information. In certain circumstances, a partial fee waiver may be appropriate, if some, but not all, of the requested records are likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations and activities of the Government.
(b) Bureaus will waive fees (in whole or part) if disclosure of all or part of the information is in the public interest because its release—
(1) Is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the Government; and
(2) Is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.
(c) If a bureau denies your request for a fee waiver, it will notify you, in writing, of the following:
(1) The basis for the denial, including a full explanation of why your fee waiver request did not meet DOI's fee waiver criteria (see paragraph (b) of this section and appendix D to this part);
(2) The name(s) and title(s) or position(s) of each person responsible for the denial;
(3) The name and title of the Office of the Solicitor attorney consulted; and
(4) A statement that the denial may be appealed within 30 workdays after the date of the denial letter to the FOIA Appeals Officer (see appendix A to this part) under the procedures in § 2.30.
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§ 2.19 When may the bureau extend the basic time limit?

(a) The bureau may extend the basic time limit, if unusual circumstances exist, by notifying you in writing of:

(1) The unusual circumstances involved; and

(2) The date by which it expects to complete processing the request.

(b) If the processing time will extend beyond a total of 30 workdays, the bureau will:

(1) Give you an opportunity to limit the scope of the request or agree to an alternative time period for processing; and

(2) Make available its FOIA Public Liaison (see § 2.66 of this part) to assist in resolving any disputes between you and the bureau.

(c) If the bureau extends the time limit under this section and you do not receive a response in accordance with § 2.16(a) in that time period, you may consider the request denied and file an appeal in accordance with the procedures in § 2.59.

(d) Your refusal to reasonably modify the scope of a request or arrange an alternative time frame for processing a request after being given the opportunity to do so may be considered for litigation purposes as a factor when determining whether exceptional circumstances exist.

[77 FR 76902, Dec. 31, 2012, as amended at 81 FR 11128, Mar. 3, 2016]

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