46 CFR § 503.32 - Procedures for responding to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act.
(a) Determination to grant or deny request. Upon request by any member of the public for documents, made in accordance with the rules of this part, the Commission's Secretary or his or her delegate in his or her absence, shall determine whether or not such request shall be granted.
(1) Such determination shall be made by the Secretary within twenty (20) business days after receipt of such request, except as provided in paragraphs (b) and (e)(4) of this section, and the Secretary shall immediately notify the requester of:
(i) Such determination and the reasons therefor;
(iii) In the case of an adverse determination, the right of such requester to appeal to the Chairman no less than 90 days after the date of such adverse determination, and the right of such requester to seek dispute resolution services from the agency's FOIA Public Liaison or the Office of Government Information Services.
(2) Upon granting a request, the Secretary shall promptly make records available to the requestor. Upon denial of such a request the Secretary shall promptly notify the requestor of the determination, explain the reason for denial, give an estimate of the volume of matter denied, and set forth the names and titles or positions of each person responsible for the denial of the request.
(i) Any party whose request for documents or other information pursuant to this part has been denied in whole or in part by the Secretary may appeal such determination. Any such appeal must:
(A) Be addressed to: Chairman, Federal Maritime Commission, Washington, D.C. 20573-0001; and
(B) Be filed not later than 90 days following receipt of notification of full or partial denial of records requested.
(ii) The Chairman or the Chairman's specific delegate, in his or her absence, shall make a determination with respect to that appeal within twenty (20) business days after receipt of such appeal, except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section.
(iii) If, on appeal, the denial is upheld, either in whole or in part, the Chairman shall so notify the party submitting the appeal and shall notify such person of the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(4) regarding judicial review of such determination upholding the denial. Notification shall also include the statement that the determination is that of the Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission and the name of the Chairman.
(b) Extension of time limits.
(1) In unusual circumstances, as defined in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, the time limits prescribed with respect to initial actions in response to a FOIA request or actions on appeal may be extended by written notice from the Secretary of the Commission to the person making such request, setting forth the reasons for such extension and the date on which a determination is expected to be dispatched. No such notice shall specify a date that would result in an extension for more than ten (10) working days, except as provided in paragraph (b)(3) of this section.
(2) As used in this paragraph, unusual circumstances means, but only to the extent reasonably necessary to the proper processing of the particular request:
(i) The need to search for and collect the requested records from field facilities or other establishments that are separate from the office processing the request;
(ii) The need to search for, collect, and appropriately examine a voluminous amount of separate and distinct records which are demanded in a single request; or
(iii) The need for consultation, which shall be conducted with all practicable speed, with another agency having a substantial interest in the determination of the request or among two or more components of the agency having substantial subject matter interest therein.
(3) If the time limit is extended as prescribed under this section, and the request cannot be processed within the extended time limit, the Secretary shall notify the requestor, and either provide the requestor with an opportunity to limit the scope of the request so that it may be processed within the time limit, or provide the requestor an opportunity to arrange with the Secretary an alternative time frame for processing the request or a modified request. To aid the requester, the Commission will make available its FOIA Public Liaison, who shall assist in the resolution of any dispute between the requester and the Commission, and notify the requester of the right of the requester to seek dispute resolution services from the Office of Government Information Services.
(4) The Secretary may make an initial written request to the requestor for information to clarify the request which will toll the 20-day processing period until such information has been received. The 20-day processing period will recommence after receipt of the requested information.
(5) The Secretary may also make written requests to clarify issues regarding fee assessments. Such written requests will toll the 20-day processing period until such information has been received from the requestor. The 20-day processing period will recommence after receipt of the requested information.
(c) Aggregation of requests. Certain requests by the same requestor, or by a group of requestors acting in concert, may be aggregated:
(1) Upon the Secretary's reasonable belief that such requests actually constitute a single request, which if not aggregated would satisfy the unusual circumstances specified in paragraph (b)(2) of this section; and
(2) If the requests involve clearly related matters.
(d) Multitrack processing of requests. The Secretary uses multitrack processing of FOIA requests. Requests which seek and are granted expedited processing are put on the expedited track. All other requests are designated either simple or complex requests based on the amount of time and/or complexity needed to process the request. A request may be considered simple if it involves records that are routinely requested and readily available.
(e) Expedited processing of requests.
(2) The term compelling need means:
(ii) With respect to a request made by a person primarily engaged in disseminating information, urgency to inform the public concerning actual or alleged Federal Government activity.
(3) A demonstration of compelling need by a person making a request for expedited processing must be made in the form of a statement describing the circumstances and certified by such person to be true and correct to the best of such person's knowledge and belief.
(4) The Secretary shall determine whether to provide expedited processing, and provide notice of the determination to the person making the request, within ten (10) calendar days after the receipt date of the request.
(5) Appeal of the determination not to provide expedited processing should be sought in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (a)(3)(i) of § 503.32, and will be considered expeditiously.
(6) Any request granted expedited processing shall be processed as soon as practicable.