§ 70.40 Charges assessed for the production of records.  


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  • (a) General. Components shall charge for processing requests under the FOIA in accordance with the provisions of this section and with the OMB Guidelines. In order to resolve any fee issues that arise under this section, a component may contact a requester for additional information. Components will ensure that searches, review, and duplication are conducted in the most efficient and least expensive manner. A component ordinarily will collect all applicable fees before sending copies of records to the requester.

    (b) Types of charges. There are three types of charges assessed in connection with the production of records in response to a request, specifically, charges for costs associated with:

    (1) Searching for or locating responsive records (search costs),

    (2) Duplicating such records (duplication costs), and

    (3) Reviewing records to determine whether any materials are exempt (review costs).

    (c) Types of requesters. (1) There are four types of requesters:

    (i) Commercial use requesters,

    (ii) Educational and non-commercial scientific institutions,

    (iii) Representatives of the news media, and

    (iv) All other requesters.

    (2) Depending upon the type of requester, as set forth in paragraph (c)(1) of this section, the charges outlined in paragraph (d) of this section may be assessed.

    (d) Types of charges that will be assessed for each type of request—(1) Commercial use request. When a requester makes a commercial use request, search costs, duplication costs and review costs will be assessed in their entirety.

    (2) Educational or non-commercial scientific institution request. When an educational or non-commercial scientific institution makes a request, only duplication costs will be assessed, excluding charges for the first 100 pages.

    (3) Request by representative of news media. When a representative of the news media makes a request, only duplication costs will be assessed, excluding charges for the first 100 pages.

    (4) All other requesters. Requesters making a request which does not fall within paragraph (d)(1), (2), or (3) of this section will be charged search costs and duplication costs, except that the first 100 pages of duplication and the first two hours of search time will be furnished without charge. Where computer searches are involved, the monetary equivalent of two hours of search time by a professional employee will be deducted from the total cost of computer processing time.

    (e) Charges for each type of activity—(1) Search costs. (i) When a search for records is performed by a clerical employee, a rate of $5.00 per quarter hour will be applicable. When a search is performed by professional or supervisory personnel, a rate of $10.00 per quarter hour will be applicable. Components will charge for time spent searching even if they do not locate any responsive records or they withhold the records located as exempt from disclosure.

    (ii) For computer searches of records, requesters will be charged the direct costs of conducting the search, except as provided in paragraph (e)(4) of this section.

    (2) Duplication costs. The standard copying charge for records in black and white paper copy is $0.15 per page. This charge includes the operator's time to duplicate the record. When responsive information is provided in a format other than 812 x 11 or 11 x 14 inch black and white paper copy, such as computer tapes, disks and color copies, the requester may be charged the direct costs of the tape, disk, audio-visual or whatever medium is used to produce the information, as well as the direct cost of duplication, including operator time.

    (3) Review costs. Costs associated with the review of records, as defined in §70.38(e), will be charged for work performed by a clerical employee at a rate of $5.00 per quarter hour when applicable. When professional or supervisory personnel perform work, a rate of $10.00 per quarter hour will be charged, when applicable. Except as noted in this paragraph, charges may only be assessed for review the first time the records are analyzed to determine the applicability of specific exemptions to the particular record or portion of the record. Thus a requester would not be charged for review at the administrative appeal level with regard to the applicability of an exemption already applied at the initial level. When, however, a record has been withheld pursuant to an exemption which is subsequently determined not to apply and is reviewed again at the appellate level to determine the potential applicability of other exemptions, the costs attendant to such additional review will be assessed.

    (4) Limitations on charging fees. If a component fails to comply with the time limits in which to respond to a request, it shall not assess certain fees except:

    (i) If there are unusual circumstances (as that term is defined in §70.25(c)) and the component has provided timely written notice, the component is permitted ten additional days to respond to the request. After the expiration of the ten additional days, the component is no longer permitted to assess search fees or, in the instances of requests from requesters described in §70.38(h) and (i), duplication fees except as described in paragraph (e)(4)(ii) of this section.

    (ii) If there are unusual circumstances (as that term is defined in §70.25(c)), and more than 5,000 pages of documents are necessary to respond to the request, the component may continue to charge assessable fees for as long as it takes to process the request, provided that the component has provided timely written notice and discussed with the requester via telephone, email, or written mail (or made at least three good-faith attempts to do so) how the requester could effectively limit the scope of the pending request.

    (iii) If a court has determined that exceptional circumstances exist, as defined in the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(6)(C) the agency's failure to comply with any time limits of the FOIA are excused for the length of time provided by the court order.

    (5) Mailing cost. Where responses are sent by mail, no postage charge will be made for transmitting by regular mail a single copy of the requested record to the requester, or for mailing additional copies where the total postage cost does not exceed $5.00. However, where the volume of paper or other produced material or the requested method of transmittal requested is in excess of $5.00, the transmittal costs will be added.

    (f) Aggregating requests for purposes of assessing costs. (1) Where a component reasonably believes that a requester or a group of requesters acting together is attempting to divide a request into a series of requests for the purpose of avoiding fees, the disclosure officer may aggregate those requests and charge accordingly.

    (2) Components may presume that multiple requests of this type made within a 30-day period have been submitted in order to avoid fees. Where requests are separated by a longer period, disclosure officers will aggregate them only where a solid basis exists for determining that aggregation is warranted under all of the circumstances involved. Multiple requests involving unrelated matters will not be aggregated.

    (g) Interest charges. Components will assess interest on an unpaid bill starting on the 31st day following the date of billing the requester. Interest charges will be assessed at the rate provided in 31 U.S.C. 3717 and will accrue from the date of the billing until payment is received by the component. Components will follow the provisions of the Debt Collection Act of 1982 (Pub. L. 97-365, 96 Stat. 1749), as amended, and its administrative procedures, including the use of consumer reporting agencies, collection agencies, and offset.

    (h) Authentication of copies—(1) Fees. The FOIA does not require certification or attestation under seal of copies of records provided in accordance with its provisions. Pursuant to provisions of the general user-charger statute, 31 U.S.C. 9701 and Subchapter II of title 29 U.S.C., the following charges will be made when, upon request, such services are rendered by the agency in its discretion:

    (i) For certification of true copies, $10.00 each certification.

    (ii) For attestation under the seal of the Department, $10.00 each attestation under seal.

    (2) Authority and form for attestation under seal. Authority is hereby given to any officer or officers of the Department of Labor designated as authentication officer or officers of the Department to sign and issue attestations under the seal of the Department of Labor.

    (i) Transcripts. Fees for transcripts of an agency proceeding, as defined in the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 5521(12) will be assessed in accordance with the provisions of this subpart.

    (j) Privacy Act requesters. A request from an individual or on behalf of an individual for a record maintained by that individual's name or other unique identifier which is contained within a component's system of records, will be treated under the fee provisions at 29 CFR 71.6.