43 CFR 2.8 - What information do I include in my request?

§ 2.8 What information do I include in my request?
(a) Description of records.
(1) You must describe the requested records in enough detail to enable an employee familiar with the subject area of the request to locate the record(s) with a reasonable amount of effort. Be as specific as possible in describing the records you are seeking. For example, whenever possible:
(i) Identify the date, title or name, author, recipient, and the subject of the record; the office that created it, the present custodian of the record and the geographical location (e.g., headquarters or a regional/field office); the timeframe for which you are seeking records; and any other information that will assist the bureau in locating the material.
(ii) If the request involves a matter in litigation, state the case name and docket number as well as the court in which the case was filed.
(2) The bureau will not begin processing your request until any issues regarding the scope or nature of your request are resolved. When a request is overly broad, unclear, involves an extremely voluminous amount of records, or a burdensome search, the bureau will contact you to identify and clarify the records you are seeking. It will work with you to define the subject matter, clarify terms that are used, or narrow the scope of your request.
(3) The time limit for responding to your request will not start until the bureau receives a request reasonably describing the records or clarifying the initial request. If the bureau asks you for additional clarification and does not hear from you within 20 workdays, it will assume that you are no longer interested in pursuing your request and will close the file on your request.
(b) Fee information.
(1) Unless you request a fee waiver (see paragraph (b)(2) of this section), you should state that you are willing to pay all fees associated with processing your request or that you are willing to pay up to a specified amount. The bureau will not begin processing your request until this written assurance has been received. If the bureau anticipates that the fees for processing your request exceed the amount you have indicated you are willing to pay, the bureau will notify you that it needs your assurance of payment of fees as high as are anticipated, or an advance payment (see § 2.18(b) and (c)). If the bureau does not hear from you within 20 workdays, it will assume that you are no longer interested in this matter and will close the file on your request.
(2) You may request a fee waiver. If you are seeking a fee waiver, you must provide sufficient justification to support your fee waiver request (see the criteria in § 2.19 and in appendix D to this part). Failure to provide adequate justification will result in a denial of your fee waiver request. Remember that if you are requesting a fee waiver, the burden is on you to demonstrate in your request that you are entitled to it. The bureau will not begin processing your request until the fee issues are resolved. As an option, at the same time you request a fee waiver you may state your willingness to pay regardless of whether a fee waiver is granted. This will permit the bureau to process your request for records at the same time it is considering the fee waiver request. If you are required to pay a fee, and it is later determined on appeal that you are entitled to a full or partial fee waiver, an appropriate refund will be made.
(3) You should indicate what fee category you are in, i.e., if you are a commercial-use requester, news media, educational institution/noncommercial scientific institution, or other requester (see §§ 2.3 and 2.17(a)). If you submit a FOIA request on behalf of another person or organization (for example, if you are an attorney submitting a request on behalf of a client), it is the underlying requester's identity and intended use that determines the fee category. If your fee category is unclear to the bureau, the 20-workday statutory time limit for processing your request will not begin to run (see § 2.12(b)) until this matter has been resolved. If the bureau requests additional clarification and does not hear from you within 20 workdays, it will assume that you are no longer interested in this matter and will close the file on your request.
(c) Mailing address information: Your postal address is required for the bureau to mail any responsive documents to you.
(d) The following information will assist the bureau in processing your request:
(1) The words “FOIA REQUEST” (prominently displayed) on the request letter and the envelope, or subject line of a request sent via e-mail or fax, or “PRIVACY ACT REQUEST” when requesting records pertaining to yourself that you believe are covered by the Privacy Act, as well as citing the appropriate act in your letter;
(2) Your telephone number (where you can be reached during normal business hours), e-mail address and fax number, if available, in case the bureau, or the Department needs to communicate with you about your request. This information is very important.
(3) A list of all the bureau FOIA Contacts to which you are sending your request. For the quickest possible handling, you should address a separate copy of your request to each bureau FOIA Contact where you believe the records are maintained.
(4) When making a request for personal records about another individual, a written authorization from that individual and any other information required by the Privacy Act system of records notice; or proof that the individual is deceased (for example, a copy of a death certificate or an obituary) as the Privacy Act does not apply to a deceased individual. (Note: Information about a deceased individual may be subject to protection under exemption (6) of the FOIA if the release of the information could result in an invasion of the privacy of a living individual.)
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§ 2.8 Can you ask for records to be disclosed in a particular form or format?

(a) Generally, you may choose the form or format of disclosure for records requested. The bureau must provide the records in the requested form or format if the bureau can readily reproduce the record in that form or format.

(b) The bureau may charge you the direct costs involved in converting records to the requested format if the bureau does not normally maintain the records in that format (see § 2.44 of this part).

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