§ 70.25 Time limits and order in which requests and appeals must be processed.  


Latest version.
  • (a) Time limits. The FOIA establishes a 20 business day deadline for regular requests and appeals, and a 10 calendar day time limit for making determinations regarding expedited processing. Components of the Department of Labor will comply with the time limits required by the FOIA for responding to and processing requests and appeals. In instances involving misdirected requests that are re-routed pursuant to §70.20(c) of this subpart, 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 by these regulations to receive requests. A component or the designated appeal authority will notify a requester whenever they are unable to respond to or process the request or appeal within the time limits established by the FOIA.

    (b) Multitrack processing. All components must designate a specific track for requests that are granted expedited processing, in accordance with the standards set forth in paragraph (d) of this section. A component may also designate additional processing tracks that distinguish between simple and complex requests based on the estimated amount of work and/or time needed to process the request, including based on the number of pages involved and the need for consultations or referrals. Components shall advise the requesters of the track into which their request falls and, when appropriate, shall offer the requester an opportunity to limit the scope of their requests in order to qualify for faster processing within the specified limits of the component's faster track.

    (c) Unusual circumstances. (1) Where the statutory time limits for processing a request cannot be met because of “unusual circumstances,” as set forth in the FOIA at 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(6)(B)(i)-(iii), and the component determines to extend the time limits on that basis, the component shall, before the expiration of the 20 working day deadline to respond, notify the requester in writing of the unusual circumstances and of the date by which processing of the request can be expected to be completed. If the component intends to extend the deadline to respond by more than ten working days, the component must:

    (i) Provide the requester with an opportunity either to modify the request so that it may be processed within the time limits or to arrange an alternative time period with the component for processing the request or a modified request;

    (ii) Make available to the requester the contact information for the designated FOIA contact and the FOIA Public Liaison to assist the requester; and

    (iii) Notify the requester of the right to seek dispute resolution services from the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS).

    (d) Aggregating requests. Where a component reasonably believes that multiple requests submitted by a requester, or by a group of requesters acting in concert, constitute a single request that would otherwise involve unusual circumstances, and the requests involve clearly related matters, they may be aggregated. Components shall not aggregate multiple requests involving unrelated matters.

    (e) Expedited processing. (1) Requests and appeals will be taken out of order and given expedited treatment whenever it is determined that they involve:

    (i) Circumstances in which the lack of expedited treatment could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual;

    (ii) An urgency to inform the public about an actual or alleged federal government activity, if made by a person primarily engaged in disseminating information;

    (iii) The loss of substantial due process rights; or

    (iv) A matter of widespread and exceptional media interest in which there exists possible questions about the government's integrity which affect public confidence.

    (2) A request for expedited processing may be made at the time of the initial request for records or at any later time. For a prompt determination, a request for expedited processing must be received by the proper component. Requests based on paragraphs (e)(1)(i) through (iv) of this section must be submitted to the component that maintains the records requested.

    (3) 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. For example, a requester within the category in paragraph (e)(1)(ii) of this section, if not a full-time member of the news media, must establish that he or she is a person whose main professional activity or occupation is information dissemination, though it need not be his or her sole occupation. Such a requester also must establish a particular urgency to inform the public about the government activity involved in the request—one that goes beyond the public's general right to know about government activity. The existence of numerous articles published on a given subject can be helpful in establishing the requirement that there be an “urgency to inform” the public on a topic. As a matter of administrative discretion, a component may waive the formality of certification.

    (4) Within ten calendar days of its receipt of a request for expedited processing, the proper component will decide whether to grant the request and will notify the requester of the decision. If a request for expedited treatment is granted, the request will be given priority 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.