7 CFR 1.4 - Public access to certain materials.
(a) In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(2), each agency within the Department shall make the following materials available for public inspection and copying (unless they are promptly published and copies offered for sale):
(1) Final opinions, including concurring and dissenting opinions, as well as orders, made in the adjudication of cases;
(3) Administrative staff manuals and instructions to staff that affect a member of the public;
(4) Copies of all records, regardless of form or format, which have been released pursuant to a FOIA request under 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(3), and which because of the nature of their subject matter, have become or are likely to become the subject of subsequent requests for substantially the same records. Agencies shall decide on a case by case basis whether records fall into this category, based on the following factors:
(i) Previous experience with similar records;
(ii) The particular characteristics of the records involved, including their nature and the type of information contained in them; and
(iii) The identity and number of requesters and whether there is widespread media, historical, academic, or commercial interest in the records.
(5) A general index of the records referred to in paragraph (a)(4) of this section.
(b) Records encompassed within paragraphs (a)(1) through (a)(5) of this section created on or after November 1, 1996, shall be made available to the public by computer telecommunications or, if computer telecommunications means have not been established by the agency, by other electronic means.
(c) Each agency of the Department shall maintain and make available for public inspection and copying current indexes providing identifying information regarding any matter issued, adopted or promulgated after July 4, 1967, and required by paragraph (a) of this section to be make available or published. Each agency shall publish and make available for distribution copies of such indexes and supplements to such indexes at least quarterly, unless it determines by notice published in the Federal Register that publication would be unnecessary and impracticable. After issuance of such notice, each agency shall provide copies of any index upon request at a cost not to exceed the direct cost of duplication.
(d) Each agency is responsible for preparing reference material or a guide for requesting records or information from that agency. This guide shall also include an index of all major information systems, and a description of major information and record locator systems.
(e) Each agency shall also prepare a handbook for obtaining information from that agency. The handbook should be a short, simple explanation to the public of what the FOIA is designed to do, and how a member of the public can use it to access government records. The handbook should be available on paper and through electronic means, and it should identify how a requester can access agency Freedom of Information Act annual reports. Similarly, the annual reports should refer to the handbook and how to obtain it.
(f) It is appropriate to make frequently requested records available in accordance with paragraph (a)(4) of this section in situations where public access in a timely manner is important, and it is not intended to apply where there may be a limited number of requests over a short period of time from a few requesters. Agencies may remove a record from this access medium when the appropriate official determines that it is unlikely there will be substantial further requests for that document.