45 CFR § 1184.7 - How will fees be charged?

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§ 1184.7 How will fees be charged?

(a) In general. IMLS will use the most efficient and least costly methods to comply with FOIA requests. IMLS will charge fees to recover all allowable direct costs incurred, and may charge fees for searching for and reviewing requested records even if the records are determined to be exempt from disclosure or cannot be located. IMLS will charge fees in accordance with the category of the FOIA requester.

(1) Commercial use requests. IMLS will assess charges to recover the full direct cost of searching for, reviewing and duplicating the requested records. IMLS may recover the cost of searching for and reviewing records even if there is ultimately no disclosure.

(2) Requests from educational and non-commercial scientific institutions. IMLS will charge for duplication costs.

(3) Requests by representatives of the news media. IMLS will charge for duplication costs.

(4) All other requests. IMLS will assess charges to recover the full direct cost for searching for and duplicating the requested records.

(5) Status of Requester. IMLS' decision regarding the categorization of a requester will be made on a case-by-case basis based upon the requester's intended use of the requested records.

(b) General fee schedule. The following fees will be charged in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section.

(1) Manual search fee. The fee charged will be the salary rate(s) (i.e., basic pay plus 16.1 percent) of the employee(s) conducting the search.

(2) Computer search fee. The fee charged will be the actual direct cost of providing the service including the cost of operating the central processing unit for the operating time that is directly attributed to searching for records responsive to a request and the operator/programmer salary apportionable to the search.

(3) Review fee. The fee charged will equal the salary rate(s) (i.e., basic pay plus 16.1 percent) of the employee(s) conducting the review.

(4) Duplication fee. Copies of records photocopied on an 8 1/2 × 11 inch sheet of paper will be provided at $.10 per page. For duplication of other materials, the charge will be the direct cost of duplication.

(c) Restrictions on charging fees.

(1) Except for records provided in response to a commercial use request, the first 100 pages of duplication and the first two (2) hours of search time will be provided at no charge.

(2) Fees will not be charged to any requester, including commercial use requesters, if the total amount calculated under this section is less than $25.

(d) Fees likely to exceed $25. If the total fee charges are likely to exceed $25, IMLS will notify you of the estimated amount of the charges, including a breakdown of the fees for search, review and/or duplication, unless you have indicated in advance that you are willing to pay higher fees and will offer you an opportunity to confer with the FOIA Public Liaison to revise the request to meet your needs at a lower cost.

(e) Waiver or reduction of fees.

(1) IMLS will disclose records without charge or at a reduced charge if the agency determines that disclosure of the information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.

(2) IMLS will use the following factors to determine whether a fee will be waived or reduced:

(i) The subject of the request. Whether the subject of the requested records concerns the “operations or activities of the government”;

(ii) The informative value of the information to be disclosed. Whether the disclosure is “likely to contribute” to an understanding of government operations or activities;

(iii) The contribution to an understanding of the subject by the general public likely to result from disclosure. Whether disclosure of the requested information will contribute to “public understanding”;

(iv) The significance of the contribution to public understanding. Whether disclosure is likely to contribute “significantly” to public understanding of government operations or activities;

(v) The existence and magnitude of a commercial interest. Whether you have a commercial interest that would be furthered by the disclosure; and if so

(vi) The primary interest in disclosure. Whether the magnitude of your commercial interest is sufficiently large in comparison with the public interest in disclosure, that disclosure is primarily in the your commercial interest.

(f) Assessment and collection of fees.

(1) If you fail to pay your bill within thirty (30) days, interest will accrue from the date the bill was mailed, and will be assessed at the rate prescribed in 31 U.S.C. 3717.

(2) If IMLS reasonably believes that you are attempting to divide a request into a series of requests to avoid the assessment of fees, the agency may aggregate such requests and charge accordingly.

(3) Advance payment.

(i) Advance payment of fees will generally not be required. IMLS may request an advance payment of the fee, however, if:

(A) The charges are likely to exceed $250; or

(B) You have failed previously to pay a fee in a timely fashion.

(ii) When IMLS requests an advance payment, the time limits described in section (a)(6) of the FOIA will begin only after IMLS has received advanced full payment in full.

(g) Failure to comply. In the absence of unusual or exceptional circumstances, IMLS will not assess fees if the agency fails to comply with any time limit set forth in this part, unless the agency has determined that unusual circumstances apply and more than 5,000 pages are necessary to respond to the request.

(h) Waivers. IMLS may waive fees in other circumstances solely at its discretion, consistent with 5 U.S.C. 552.

[79 FR 9423, Feb. 19, 2014, as amended at 84 FR 22946, May 21, 2019]