49 CFR § 1002.1 - Fees for records search, review, copying, certification, and related services.
Certifications and copies of such tariffs, reports and other public records and documents on file with the Surface Transportation Board as may be practicable to furnish, as well as searches and copying of records not considered public under the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552), will be furnished on the following basis:
(a) Certificate of the Records Officer, $21.00.
(b) Services involved in examination of tariffs or schedules for preparation of certified copies of tariffs or schedules or extracts therefrom at the rate of $46.00 per hour.
(c) Services involved in checking records to be certified to determine authenticity, including clerical work, etc. incidental thereto, at the rate of $31.00 per hour.
(d) Copies or computer printouts of tariffs, reports, and other public documents, at the rate of $.25 per letter or legal size exposure, only after the first 100 pages, with a minimum charge of $7.50. Copies of electronic records, audiovisual materials, or other forms of data are available at the actual cost of duplication or transcription.
(e) Fees for courier services to transport agency records to provide on-site access to agency records stored off-site will be set at the rates set forth in the Board's agreement with its courier service provider. Rate information can be obtained from the Board's Records Officer, Surface Transportation Board, Washington, DC 20423-0001.
(f) The fees for search, review and copying services for records not considered public under the Freedom of Information Act are as follows:
(1) When records are sought for commercial use, requesters will be assessed the full and reasonable direct costs of document search, review and duplication. A “commercial use” request refers to a request from or on behalf of one who seeks information for a use or purpose that furthers the commercial, trade, or profit interests of the requester or the person on whose behalf the request is made.
(2) When records are not sought for commercial use and a request is made by an educational or noncommercial scientific institution, requesters will be assessed only for the cost of duplication (excluding charges for the first 100 pages). The term “Educational Institution” refers to a preschool, a public or private elementary or secondary school, an institution of graduate higher education, an institution of undergraduate higher education, an institution of professional education, and an institution of vocational education, which operates a program of scholarly research. The term “noncommercial scientific institution” refers to an institution that is not operated on a “commercial” basis and that is operated solely for the purpose of conducting scientific research the results of which are not intended to promote any particular product or industry. They must show that their request is authorized by and under the auspices of a qualifying institution and the records are not sought for a commercial use but, instead, are in furtherance of scholarly or scientific research.
(3) Requesters who are representatives of the news media (persons actively gathering news for an entity that is organized and operated to publish or broadcast news to the public) will be assessed only for the cost of duplication (excluding charges for the first 100 pages) if they can show that their request is not made for a commercial use. A request for records supporting the news dissemination function of the requester shall not be considered a request for a commercial use.
(4) All other requesters will be assessed fees which recover the full, reasonable direct cost of searching for and duplicating records that are responsive to the request (excluding charges for the first 100 pages of duplication and the first two hours of search time).
(5) All requesters must reasonably describe the records sought.
(6) The search and review hourly fees will be based upon employee grade levels in order to recoup the full, allowable direct costs attributable to their performance of these functions. A listing of the hourly fees by employee grade level is available on the Board's website, http://www.stb.gov.
(7) The fee for copies or computer printouts shall be $.25 per letter or legal size exposure, with a minimum charge of $7.50. Copies of electronic records, audiovisual materials, or other forms of data are available at the actual cost of duplication or transcription.
(8) If the cost of collecting any fee would be equal to or greater than the fee itself, it will not be assessed.
(9) A fee may be charged for searches which are not productive and for searches for records or those parts of records which subsequently are determined to be exempt from disclosure.
(10) Interest charges will be assessed on any unpaid bill starting on the date specified in the bill, at the rate prescribed in 31 U.S.C. 3717 and will accrue from the date of the billing. The Debt Collection Act, 5 U.S.C. 5514 (1982), including disclosure to the consumer reporting agencies and the use of collection agencies, as prescribed in the Board's Debt Collection Regulations in 49 CFR part 1018, will be utilized to encourage payment where appropriate.
(11) If search charges are likely to exceed $25, the requester will be notified of the estimated fees unless requester willingness to pay whatever fee is assessed has been provided in advance. The administrative time limits prescribed in 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(6) will not begin until after the requester agrees in writing to accept the prospective charges.
(12) An advance payment (before work is commenced or continued on a request) may be required if the charges are likely to exceed $250. Requesters who have previously failed to pay a fee charged in timely fashion (i.e. within 30 days of the date of billing) may be required first to pay this amount plus any applicable interest (or demonstrate that the fee has been paid) and then make an advance payment of the full amount of the estimated fee before the new or pending request is processed. The administrative time limits prescribed in 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(6) also will not begin until after a requester has complied with this provision.
(13) Documents shall be furnished without any charge or at a charge reduced below the fees set forth above if 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. The following six factors will be employed in determining when such fees shall be waived or reduced:
(i) The subject of the request: Whether the subject of the requester 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 the disclosure is likely to contribute “significantly” to public understanding of government operations or activities;
(v) The existence and magnitude of a commercial interest: Whether the requester has a commercial interest that would be furthered by the requested disclosure; and, if so
(vi) The primary interest in disclosure: Whether the magnitude of the identified commercial interest of the requester is sufficiently large, in comparison with the public interest in disclosure, that disclosure is “primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.” This fee waiver and reduction provision will be implemented in accordance with guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Justice on April 2, 1987 and entitled “New FOIA Fee Waiver Policy Guidance.” A copy of these guidelines may be inspected or obtained from the Surface Transportation Board's Freedom of Information Office, Washington, DC 20423-0001.
(14) No fees will be assessed if the FOIA Officer fails to comply with any time limit under the FOIA or these regulations, and has not timely notified the requester, in writing, that an unusual circumstance exists. If an unusual circumstance exists, and timely, written notice is given to the requester, the failure to meet the time limit may be excused an additional 10 working days before fees are automatically waived under this paragraph (f)(14).
(15) If the FOIA Officer determines that unusual circumstances apply and more than 5,000 pages are necessary to respond to a request, fees may be charged if timely, written notice to the requester is provided and discussed with the requester via mail, Email, or telephone (or if at least three good-faith attempts are made to do so) regarding how the requester could effectively limit the scope of the request.
(16) If a court has determined that exceptional circumstances exist, a failure to comply with time limits imposed by these regulations or FOIA shall be excused for the length of time provided by court order.
(17) Fees may not be avoided by filing multiple requests at the same time. When the FOIA Officer reasonably believes that a requester, alone or with others, is breaking down one request into a series of requests to avoid fees, the requests will be combined, and the requester or requesters will be charged accordingly.
(g) Fees for services described in paragraphs (a) through (f) of this section may be paid by check, money order, or through the Board's electronic payment system in accordance with § 1002.2(a)(2).
(h) Transcript of testimony and of oral argument, or extracts therefrom, may be purchased by the public from the Board's official reporter. For information regarding the official reporter, contact the Records Officer, Surface Transportation Board, Washington, DC 20423-0001.