§ 51-8.4 Responsibility for Responding to Requests.  

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  • (a) In general. Except in the instances described in paragraphs (c) of this section, the Committee is responsible for responding to a record request it received. In determining which records are responsive to a request, the Committee ordinarily will include only records in its possession as of the date that it begins its search. If any other date is used, the Committee shall inform the requester of that date. A record that is excluded from the requirements of the FOIA pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552(c) is not considered responsive to a request. The Committee has no obligation to create a record solely for the purpose of making it available under the FOIA.

    (b) Authority to grant or deny requests. The Executive Director, or designee, is authorized to grant or deny any request for records that are maintained by the Committee.

    (c) Consultation, referral, and coordination. When reviewing records located by the Committee in response to a request, the Committee shall determine whether another agency of the Federal Government is better able to determine whether the record is exempt from disclosure under the FOIA. As to any such record, the Committee shall proceed in one of the following ways:

    (1) Consultation. When records originated with the Committee processing the request, but contain information of interest to another agency, or other Federal Government office, the Committee should typically consult with that other agency prior to making a release determination.

    (2) Referral. (i) When upon the receipt of the request the Committee determines that a different agency, or other Federal Government office is best able to determine whether to disclose the record, the Committee should refer the responsibility for responding to the request to the other agency, as long as that agency is subject to the FOIA. Ordinarily, the agency that originated the record will be presumed to be best able to make the disclosure determination. However, if the Committee processing the request and the originating agency jointly agree that the former is in the best position to respond regarding the record, then the record may be handled as a consultation.

    (ii) Whenever the Committee refers any part of the responsibility for responding to a request to another agency, it shall document the referral, maintain a copy of the record that it refers, and notify the requester of the referral and inform the requester of the name(s) of the agency to which the record was referred, including that agency's FOIA contact information.

    (3) Coordination. The standard referral procedure is not appropriate where disclosure of the identity of the agency to which the referral would be made could harm an interest protected by an applicable exemption, such as the exemptions that protect personal privacy or national security interests. For example, if the Committee responding to a request for records on a living third party locates within its files records originating with a law enforcement agency, and if the existence of that law enforcement interest in the third party was not publically known, then to disclose that law enforcement interest could cause an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of the third party. Similarly, if the Committee locates within its files material originating with an Intelligence Community agency, and the involvement of that agency in the matter is classified and not publicly acknowledged, then to disclose or give attribution to the involvement of that Intelligence Community agency could cause national security harms. In such instances, in order to avoid harm to an interest protected by an applicable exemption, the Committee, upon receipt of the request, should coordinate with the originating component or agency to seek its views on the disclosability of the record. The release determination for the record that is the subject of the coordination should then be conveyed to the requester by the Committee.

    (d) Classified information. Whenever a request involves a record containing information that has been classified or may be appropriate for classification by another agency under any applicable executive order concerning the classification of records, the Committee shall refer the responsibility for responding to the request regarding that information to the agency that classified the information, or that should consider the information for classification. Whenever a component's record contains information that has been derivatively classified (e.g., when it contains information classified by another agency), the Committee shall refer the responsibility for responding to that portion of the request to the agency that classified the underlying information.

    (e) Timing of responses to consultations and referrals. All consultations and referrals received by the Committee will be handled according to the date that the FOIA request was received by the first agency.

    (f) Agreements regarding consultations and referrals. The Committee may establish agreements with other agencies to eliminate the need for consultations or referrals with respect to particular types of records.