5 CFR 1303.60 - Miscellaneous fee provisions.
(a) Charging interest - notice and rate. OMB may begin assessing interest charges on an unpaid bill starting on the 31st day following the day on which the billing was sent. The fact that the fee has been received by OMB within the thirty day grace period, even if not processed, will suffice to stay the accrual of interest. Interest will be at the rate prescribed in section 3717 of title 31 of the United States Code and will accrue from the date of the billing.
(b) Charges for unsuccessful search. OMB may assess charges for time spent searching, even if it fails to locate the records or if records located are determined to be exempt from disclosure. If OMB estimates that search charges are likely to exceed $25, it shall notify the requester of the estimated amount of fees, unless the requester has indicated in advance his willingness to pay fees as high as those anticipated. Such a notice shall offer the requester the opportunity to confer with agency personnel with the object of reformulating the request to meet his or her needs at a lower cost.
(c) Aggregating requests. A requester may not file multiple requests at the same time, each seeking portions of a document or documents, solely in order to avoid payment of fees. When OMB reasonably believes that a requester, or a group of requestors acting in concert, has submitted requests that constitute a single request, involving clearly related matters, OMB may aggregate those requests and charge accordingly. One element to be considered in determining whether a belief would be reasonable is the time period over which the requests have occurred.
(d) Advance payments. OMB may not require a requester to make an advance payment, i.e., payment before work is commenced or continued on a request, unless:
(1) OMB estimates or determines that allowable charges that a requester may be required to pay are likely to exceed $250. Then, OMB will notify the requester of the likely cost and obtain satisfactory assurance of full payment where the requester has a history of prompt payment of FOIA fees, or require an advance payment of an amount up to the full estimated charges in the case of requesters with no history of payment; or
(2) A requester has previously failed to pay a fee charged in a timely fashion (i.e., within 30 days of the date of the billing). Then, OMB may require the requester to pay the full amount owed plus any applicable interest as provided above or demonstrate that he or she has, in fact, paid the fee, and to make an advance payment of the full amount of the estimated fee before the agency begins to process a new request or a pending request from that requester.
(3) When OMB acts under paragraph (d)(1) or (2) of this section, the administrative time limits prescribed in the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(6) (i.e., 20 working days from receipt of initial requests and 20 working days from receipt of appeals from initial denial, plus permissible extensions of these time limits), will begin only after OMB has received fee payments described in paragraphs (d)(1) and (2) of this section.
(e) Effect of the Debt Collection Act of 1982 (Pub. L. 97-365). OMB should comply with provisions of the Debt Collection Act, including disclosure to consumer reporting agencies and use of collection agencies, where appropriate, to encourage repayment.