45 CFR § 2507.10 - Timing of responses to requests.

§ 2507.10 Timing of responses to requests.

(a) In General. AmeriCorps ordinarily will respond to requests according to their order of receipt.

(b) Multitrack processing. AmeriCorps processes requests in a multitrack system based on the date of receipt, the amount of work and time involved in processing the request, and whether the request qualifies for expedited processing. This multitrack processing system does not lessen the Agency's responsibility to process requests as quickly as possible.

(1) AmeriCorps uses three tracks:

(i) A track for simple requests that can be processed in 20 working days;

(ii) A track for complex requests that require more than 20 working days; and

(iii) A track for expedited processing.

(2) Within each track, processing will ordinarily proceed on a “first-in, first-out” basis, and rank-ordered by the date of receipt of the request, unless there are unusual circumstances as set forth in paragraph (c) of this section, or the requester is entitled to expedited processing as set forth in paragraph (e) of this section.

(3) If a request does not qualify as simple, AmeriCorps may give the requester an opportunity to limit the scope of the request in order to qualify for faster processing.

(c) Unusual circumstances. Whenever the statutory time limit for processing a request cannot be met because of “unusual circumstances,” as defined in the FOIA, and AmeriCorps extends the time limit on that basis, AmeriCorps will:

(1) Before expiration of the 20-day period to respond, notify the requester in writing of the unusual circumstances and when AmeriCorps expects to complete processing the request; and

(2) When the extension exceeds 10 working days, AmeriCorps will:

(i) Notify the requester in writing of the right to seek dispute resolution services from the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS);

(ii) Give the requester an opportunity to modify the request or arrange an alternative time period for processing; and

(iii) Provide contact information for the FOIA Public Liaison.

(d) Aggregating Requests to Satisfy Unusual Circumstances. For the purposes of satisfying unusual circumstances under the FOIA, AmeriCorps may aggregate requests in cases where it reasonably appears that multiple requests, submitted either by a requester or by a group of requesters acting in concert, constitute a single request that would otherwise involve unusual circumstances. AmeriCorps will not aggregate multiple requests that involve unrelated matters.

(e) Expedited processing.

(1) Requests and appeals will be processed on an expedited basis whenever it is determined that they involve:

(i) Circumstances in which the lack of expedited processing could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of a person;

(ii) An urgency to inform the public about an actual or alleged Federal Government activity, if the request is made by a person who is primarily engaged in disseminating information;

(iii) The loss of substantial due process rights; or

(iv) A matter of widespread and exceptional media interest in which there exist possible questions about the Government's integrity that affect public confidence.

(2) A requester who seeks expedited processing must submit a statement, certified to be true and correct, that explains in detail the basis for requesting expedited processing.

(i) For example, under paragraphs (e)(1)(ii) and (iv) of this section, a requester who is not a full-time member of the news media must establish that their primary professional activity or occupation is information dissemination, though it need not be their sole occupation. They must also clearly describe why there is a particular urgency to inform the public about the government activity or questions about integrity involved in the request - one that extends beyond the public's right to know about government activity generally.

(ii) As a matter of administrative discretion, AmeriCorps may waive the formal certification requirement.

(3) Within 10 calendar days of receiving a request for expedited processing, AmeriCorps will notify the requester of its decision whether to grant or deny the request. If AmeriCorps grants expedited processing, the request will be placed in the expedited processing track and be processed as soon as practicable. If AmeriCorps denies a request for expedited processing, it will act expeditiously on any appeal of that decision.

(f) Tolling. The 20-day period under paragraph (b)(1) of this section commences on the date that the request is first received by the FOIA Officer. The 20-day period will not be tolled by AmeriCorps except under the following circumstances:

(1) The FOIA Officer may make one request to the requester for information and will toll the 20-day period while waiting for the information. The time from this request to the FOIA Officer's receipt of a response that addresses the questions will be tolled.

(2) If the requester has indicated that they are willing to pay fees up to a certain amount, but the estimated fee exceeds that amount, the FOIA Officer will notify them of the higher estimated fees and ask if they wish to revise the amount of fees they are willing to pay or modify the request. The time from this request to the FOIA Officer's receipt of a response that addresses the questions will be tolled.