7 CFR § 1.6 - Timing of responses to perfected records requests.
(a) In general. Components ordinarily will respond to requests according to their order of receipt. In instances involving misdirected requests that are re-routed pursuant to § 1.4(c), the response time will commence on the date that the request is received by the proper component's office that is designated to receive requests, but in any event not later than 10-working days after the request is first received by any component's office that is designated to receive requests.
(b) Response time for responding to requests. Components ordinarily will inform requesters of their determination concerning requests within 20 working days of the date of receipt of the requests, plus any extension authorized by paragraph (d) of this section.
(c) Multitrack processing and how it affects requests. All components must designate a specific track for requests that are granted expedited processing in accordance with the standards set forth in paragraph (f) of this section. A component also may designate additional processing tracks that distinguish between simple and more complex requests based on the estimated amount of work or time needed to process the request. Among the factors a component may consider are the number of pages involved in processing the request and the need for consultations or referrals. Upon request, components will advise requesters of the track into which their request falls and, when appropriate, will offer the requesters an opportunity to narrow their request so that it can be placed in a different processing track in order to decrease the processing time.
(d) Circumstances for extending the response time. Whenever the component cannot meet the statutory time limit for processing a request because of “unusual circumstances,” as defined in the FOIA, and the component extends the time limit on that basis, the component must, before expiration of the 20-day period to respond, notify the requester in writing of the unusual circumstances involved and of the date by which the component estimates processing of the request will be completed. Where the extension exceeds 10 working days, the component must, as described by the FOIA, provide the requester with an opportunity to modify the request or arrange an alternative time period for processing the original or modified request. The component must make available its designated FOIA contact or its FOIA Public Liaison for this purpose. The component also must alert requesters to the availability of the OGIS to provide dispute resolution services.
(e) Procedures for requesting expedited processing. A requester who seeks expedited processing must submit a statement, certified to be true and correct to the best of that person's knowledge and belief, explaining in detail the basis for requesting expedited processing.
(1) Requests and appeals will be processed on an expedited basis whenever it is determined by the component that they involve:
(2) Requests for expedited processing may be made at any time. Requests based on paragraphs (e)(1)(i) or (ii) of this section must be submitted to the component that maintains the records requested. Components receiving requests for expedited processing will decide whether to grant them within 10 calendar days of their receipt of these requests and will notify the requesters accordingly. If a request for expedited treatment is granted, the request or appeal will be given priority, placed in the processing track for expedited requests or appeals, and will be processed as soon as practicable. If a request for expedited processing is denied, any appeal of that decision will be acted on expeditiously.