5 CFR 2411.8 - Time limits for processing requests.
(a) The 20-day period (excepting Saturdays, Sundays, and legal public holidays), established in this section, shall commence on the date on which the request is first received by the appropriate component of the agency (Regional Director, the FOIA Officer of the Office of the General Counsel, the Solicitor of the Authority, the Executive Director of the Panel, or the IG), but in any event not later than 10 days after the request is first received by any FLRA component responsible for receiving FOIA requests under part 2411. The 20-day period does not run when:
(1) The agency component makes one request to the requester for information and is awaiting such information that it has reasonably requested from the requester; or
(2) It is necessary to clarify with the requester issues regarding fee assessment.
(3) The agency component's receipt of the requested information or clarification triggers the commencement of the 20-day period.
(b) A request for records shall be logged in by the appropriate Regional Director, the FOIA Officer of the General Counsel, the Solicitor of the Authority, the Executive Director of the Panel, or the IG, as appropriate, pursuant to § 2411.6(c). All requesters must reasonably describe the records sought. An oral request for records shall not begin any time requirement. A written request for records sent to other than the appropriate officer will be forwarded to that officer by the receiving officer, but, in that event, the applicable time limit for response shall begin as set forth in paragraph (a) of this section.
(c) Except as provided in § 2411.11, the appropriate Regional Director, the FOIA Officer of the General Counsel, the Solicitor of the Authority, the Executive Director of the Panel, or the IG, as appropriate, shall, within 20 working days following receipt of the request, as provided by paragraph (a) of this section, respond in writing to the requester, determining whether, or the extent to which, the request shall be complied with.
(2) If all of the records have not been located, or a final determination has not been made with respect to disclosure of all of the records requested, the response shall state the extent to which the records involved shall be disclosed pursuant to the rules established in this part.
(3) If the request is expected to involve allowed charges in excess of $250.00, the response shall specify or estimate the fee involved and shall require prepayment of any charges in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (g) of § 2411.13 before the request is processed further.
(4) Whenever possible, subject to the provisions of paragraph (g) of § 2411.13, the response relating to a request for records that involves a fee of less than $250.00 shall be accompanied by the requested records. Where this is not possible, the records shall be forwarded as soon as possible thereafter, consistent with other obligations of the Authority, the General Counsel, the Panel, or the IG.
(5) Search fees shall not be assessed to requesters (or duplication fees in the case of an educational or noncommercial scientific institution, whose purpose is scholarly or scientific research; or a representative of the news media requester, as defined by § 2411.13(a)(8)) under this subparagraph if an agency component fails to comply with any of the deadlines in 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(4)(A), except as provided in the following paragraphs (c)(5)(i) through (iii):
(i) If the Authority, the General Counsel, the Panel, or the IG has determined that unusual circumstances apply (as the term is defined in § 2411.11(b)) and the Authority, the General Counsel, the Panel, or the IG provided a timely written notice to the requester in accordance with § 2411.11(a), a failure described in this paragraph (c)(5) is excused for an additional 10 days. If the Authority, the General Counsel, the Panel, or the IG fails to comply with the extended time limit, the Authority, the General Counsel, the Panel, or the IG may not assess any search fees (or, in the case of a requester described in § 2411.13(a)(8), duplication fees).
(ii) If the Authority, the General Counsel, the Panel, or the IG determines that unusual circumstances apply and more than 5,000 pages are necessary to respond to the request, the Authority, the General Counsel, the Panel, or the IG may charge search fees or, in the case of requesters defined in § 2411.13(a)(6) through (8), may charge duplication fees, if the following steps are taken. The Authority, the General Counsel, the Panel, or the IG must have provided timely written notice of unusual circumstances to the requester in accordance with the FOIA and must have discussed with the requester via written mail, email, or telephone (or made not less than three good-faith attempts to do so) how the requester could effectively limit the scope of the request in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(6)(B)(ii). If this exception is satisfied, the Authority, the General Counsel, the Panel, or the IG may charge all applicable fees incurred in the processing of the request.
(iii) If a court has determined that exceptional circumstances exist, as defined by the FOIA, a failure to comply with the time limits shall be excused for the length of time provided by the court order.
(d) If a request will take longer than 10 days to process:
(1) An individualized tracking number will be assigned to the request and provided to the requester; and
(2) Using the tracking number, the requester can find, by calling 202-218-7999 or visiting https://foiaonline.regulations.gov, status information about the request including:
(i) The date on which the agency originally received the request; and
(ii) An estimated date on which the agency will complete action on the request.
(e) If any request for records is denied in whole or in part, the response required by paragraph (c) of this section shall notify the requester of the denial. Such denial shall specify the reason therefore, set forth the name and title or position of the person responsible for the denial, and notify the person making the request of the right to appeal the denial under the provisions of § 2411.10. Such denial shall also notify the requester of the assistance available from the FLRA's FOIA Public Liaison and the dispute resolution services offered by the Office of Government Information Services of the National Archives and Records Administration (OGIS).