National Endowment for the Humanities.
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is unilaterally rescinding its joint Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) regulations with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and issuing its own FOIA regulations. The new regulations provide the NEH's proposed procedures for disclosure of its records, as required by the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. 552, as amended. These regulations also provide the proposed procedures for disclosing records of the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities (FCAH), an agency for which NEH provides legal counsel.
Written comments must be postmarked and electronic comments must be submitted on or before April 12, 2013.
You may submit comments by any of the following methods:
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Email: Gencounsel@neh.gov. Please include “FOIA Regulations” in the subject line of the message.
FAX: (202) 606-8600. Please send your comments to the attention of Michelle Ghim.
Mail: Michelle Ghim, Office of the General Counsel, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Room 529, Washington, DC 20506. To ensure proper handling, please reference “FOIA Regulations” on your correspondence.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Michelle Ghim, Office of the General Counsel, National Endowment for the Humanities, 202-606-8322.
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The NEH along with the NEA, the IMLS, and the FCAH make up the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities (Foundation). The Foundation was established by the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act of 1965, 20 U.S.C. 951 et seq. The NEH along with the NEA and the IMLS last issued joint FOIA regulations, 45 CFR part 1100, on December 21, 1987. Each agency has now decided to issue its own separate FOIA regulations. The NEH's regulations incorporate changes brought by the amendments to the FOIA under the OPEN Government Act of 2007, Public Law 110-175, 121 Stat. 2524. These regulations also include changes to the NEH's fee schedule for processing FOIA requests, provide procedures under which the agency will process requests for the NEH Office of the Inspector General records, and reflect developments in FOIA case law.
E.O. 12866, Regulatory Review
The NEH has determined that the proposed rule is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866 and therefore is not subject to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Review.
Regulatory Flexibility Act
The NEH Chairman, in accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 605(b), certifies that this proposed rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Under the FOIA, NEH may recover only the direct costs of searching for, reviewing, and duplicating the records that agencies process for requesters. NEH's fee schedules for such costs are consistent with OMB guidelines on FOIA fees, and provide criteria by which requesters may receive a fee waiver or reduction of fees. Furthermore, the rule will only affect persons and organizations who file FOIA requests with NEH, which receives relatively few requests each year (generally less than fifty (50) per year) in comparison to other Federal departments and agencies.
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995
For purposes of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, Pub. L. 104-4, the proposed rule will not result in the expenditure by State, local, and Tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100,000,000 million or more in any one year, and it will not significantly or uniquely affect small governments.Start Printed Page 9655
Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996
This proposed rule is not a major rule as defined by section 251 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, 5 U.S.C. 804, as amended. This rule will not result in an annual effect on the economy of $100,000,000 million or more; a major increase in costs or prices; or significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of United States-based companies to compete with foreign-based companies in domestic and export markets.
Paperwork Reduction Act
The NEH has determined that the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq., does not apply to the proposed rule because the rule does not contain information collection requirements that require OMB approval.
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- Administrative practice and procedure
- Freedom of Information
For the reasons stated in the preamble, the National Endowment for the Humanities proposes to amend 45 CFR Subchapter D by adding part 1171 as follows:
PART 1171—PUBLIC ACCESS TO NEH RECORDS UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT
- About the National Endowment for the Humanities.
- General provisions.
- Information policy.
- Public availability of records.
- Requests for records.
- Responsibilities for processing and responding to requests.
- Timing of responses to requests.
- Responses to requests.
- Confidential commercial information.
- Administrative appeals.
- Other Rights and Services.
About the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) was established by the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act of 1965, 20 U.S.C. 951 et seq., and is an independent grant-making agency of the United States government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. The NEH is directed by a Chairman and has an advisory council composed of twenty-six presidentially-appointed and Senate-confirmed members.
This part contains the regulations the NEH follows in processing requests for NEH records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552, as amended. The NEH also follows these regulations to process all FOIA requests made to the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities (FCAH), an organization established by the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act of 1965 for which the NEH provides legal counsel. These regulations should be read together with the FOIA, which provides additional information about access to NEH and FCAH records.
The NEH may provide information the agency routinely makes available to the public through its regular activities (for example, program announcements and solicitations, press releases, and summaries of awarded grant applications) without following this part. As a matter of policy, the NEH makes discretionary disclosures of records or information otherwise exempt under the FOIA whenever disclosure would not foreseeably harm an interest protected by a FOIA exemption. This policy, however, does not create any right enforceable in court.
Public availability of records.
(a) In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(2), the NEH will make the following records available for public inspection and copying (unless they are published and copies are offered for sale) without a FOIA request:
(1) Final opinions, including concurring and dissenting opinions, as well as orders made in the adjudication of cases,
(2) Statements of policy and interpretations which have been adopted by the agency and are not published in the Federal Register,
(3) Administrative staff manuals and instructions to staff that affect a member of the public,
(4) Copies of all records, regardless of format, which have been released to any person under 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(3) and which, because of the nature of their subject matter, the NEH determines have become or are likely to become the subject of subsequent requests for substantially the same records, and
(5) a general index of the records referred to in paragraph (b)(4) of this paragraph.
(b) The NEH will also maintain and make available for public inspection and copying current indexes as required by 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(2) of the FOIA. However, since the NEH has determined that publication and distribution of these indexes is unnecessary and impracticable, the NEH will provide these indexes upon request at a cost not to exceed the direct cost of the duplication.
(c) Many NEH records, including past awards, press releases, grant guidelines, and grant terms and conditions, are available on the NEH's Web site at www.neh.gov. In addition, copies of the NEH's policy statements, frequently requested records, and information about the NEH's FOIA program are available in the NEH's Electronic Reading Room.
Requests for records.
(a) How to make a request. Your FOIA request need not be in any particular format, but it must:
(1) Be in writing;
(2) Include your full name, mailing address, and daytime telephone number;
(3) Include your email address if you choose to submit your request on the NEH Web site;
(4) Be clearly identified as a FOIA request both in the text of the request and on the envelope (or on the facsimile or in the subject heading of an email message); and
(5) Describe the requested records in enough detail to enable NEH staff to locate them with a reasonable amount of effort. Whenever possible, your request should include specific information about each record sought, such as the date, title or name, author, recipient, and subject matter of the record. The NEH has no obligation to answer questions posed as FOIA requests or to create, compile, or obtain a record to satisfy a FOIA request.
(b) Agreement to pay fees. If you make a FOIA request, the NEH will consider it an agreement by you to pay all applicable fees charged under this part, up to and including the amount of $25.00, unless you seek a waiver or reduction of fees. When making a request, you may specify a willingness to pay a greater or lesser amount.
(c) Where to send a request. (1) For NEH records (except NEH Office of the Inspector General records) and/or FCAH records, write to: The General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Room 529, Washington, DC 20506. You may also send your request to the NEH General Counsel by facsimile at 202-606-8600, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through the NEH's electronic FOIA Start Printed Page 9656request system, which is available on the NEH Web site at www.neh.gov.
(2) For NEH Office of the Inspector General records, write to: The Inspector General, Office of the Inspector General, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Room 419, Washington, DC 20506. You may also send your request to the Inspector General by facsimile at 202-606-8329 or by email at email@example.com.
Responsibilities for processing and responding to requests.
(a) Processing requests. The NEH Office of the General Counsel (OGC) is the central office for processing requests for records, except when it's necessary for the NEH Office of Inspector General (OIG) to process a request to maintain the OIG's independence or ability to carry out its statutorily mandated duties. If the request is for OIG records, the NEH will inform the requester which office will be processing the request.
(b) Authority to grant or deny requests. The NEH General Counsel (or designee) is authorized to grant or deny requests for NEH records (excluding requests for OIG records), and/or FCAH records. The NEH Deputy Inspector General (or designee) is authorized to grant or deny requests for OIG records. The NEH General Counsel (or designee) is authorized to grant or deny requests on any fee matters and requests for expedited treatment, including OIG-related requests.
(c) Consultations and referrals. When the NEH receives a request for a record in its possession, the agency will determine whether another Federal government agency is better able to decide whether the record should or should not be disclosed under the FOIA.
(1) If the NEH determines that it is the agency best able to process the record in response to the request, then it will do so, after consultation with the other agency that has a substantial interest in the requested records.
(2) If the NEH determines that it is not the agency best able to process the record, then it will refer the record (or portion thereof) to the other Federal agency, but only if that agency is subject to the FOIA.
(d) Notice of referral. Whenever the NEH refers all or any part of the responsibility for responding to a request to another agency, the NEH will notify the requester of the referral and of the name of each agency to which the NEH has referred the request.
Timing of responses to requests.
(a) In general. The NEH customarily will respond to requests according to their order of receipt. In determining which records are responsive to a request, the NEH will include only those records in its possession as of the date it begins its search for records. If any other date is used, the NEH will inform the requester of that date.
(b) Timing for initial response. Ordinarily, the NEH will determine whether to grant or deny a request for records within twenty (20) days (weekends and Federal holidays excluded) of when the NEH receives a request.
(c) Tolling of time limits. The NEH may toll the 20-day time period to:
(1) Make one request for information it reasonably requests from the requester; or
(2) Clarify the applicability or amount of any fees, if necessary, with the requester.
(3) Under paragraphs (c)(1) or (2) of this section, the tolling period ends upon the NEH's receipt of the information or clarification from the requester.
(d) Unusual circumstances. (1) When the NEH cannot meet the statutory time limits for processing a request because of unusual circumstances as defined in the FOIA, the NEH may extend the response time as follows:
(i) if the extension will be for ten (10) or less working days (i.e., weekends and Federal holidays excluded), the NEH will notify the requester as soon as practicable in writing of the unusual circumstances and the expected response date; and
(ii) if the extension will be for more than ten (10) working days, the NEH will provide the requester with an opportunity either to modify the request so that it may be processed within the time limit or to arrange an alternative time period to process the request or a modified request.
(2) If the NEH reasonably believes that multiple requests submitted by a requester, or a group of requesters acting in concert, constitute a single request that would otherwise involve unusual circumstances, and the requests involve clearly related matters, the NEH may aggregate the requests. The NEH will not aggregate multiple requests involving unrelated matters.
(e) Expedited processing. (1) The NEH will take requests and appeals out of order and give them expedited treatment whenever it determines 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; or
(ii) an urgency to inform the public about actual or alleged Federal government activity if the expedited processing request is made by a person primarily engaged in disseminating information.
(2) A requester may seek expedited processing at the time of the requester's initial request for records or at any later time.
(3) To request expedited processing, a requester must submit a statement, certified to be true and correct to the requester's best knowledge and belief, explaining in detail the basis for requesting expedited processing.
(4) Within ten (10) calendar days of receipt of a request for expedited processing, the NEH will decide whether to grant it and will notify the requester of the decision. If the NEH grants a request for expedited processing, the NEH will give the request priority and will process the request as soon as practicable. If the NEH denies a request for expedited processing, the NEH will act upon any appeal of that decision expeditiously.
Responses to requests.
(a) Acknowledgment of requests. Upon receipt of a request that will take longer than ten (10) days to process, the NEH will send the requester an acknowledgment letter that assigns the request an individualized tracking number.
(b) Grants of requests. If the NEH makes a determination to grant a request in whole or in part, it will notify the requester in writing. The NEH will inform the requester of any applicable fees and will disclose records to the requester promptly on payment of any applicable fees. The NEH will mark or annotate records disclosed in part to show the amount of information deleted pursuant to a FOIA exemption, unless doing so would harm an interest protected by an applicable FOIA exemption. If technically feasible, the NEH will also indicate, on the agency record(s) it provides, the location of the information deleted.
(c) Denials of requests. If the NEH makes a determination to deny a request in any respect, the NEH will also notify the requester in writing of: (1) the name and title or position of the person responsible for the denial; (2) a brief statement of the reason(s) for the denial, including any FOIA exemption applied by the NEH in denying the request; (3) an estimate of the volume of records or information withheld, if applicable. This estimate need not be provided if the volume is otherwise indicated through deletion on the records disclosed in part, or if providing an Start Printed Page 9657estimate would harm an interest protected by an applicable exemption; (4) a statement that the requester may appeal the denial under § 1171.10 and a description of the requirements to appeal.
Confidential commercial information.
(a) In general. The NEH will not disclose confidential commercial information in response to a FOIA request, except as described in this section.
(b) Definitions. For purposes of this section:
(1) Confidential commercial information means commercial or financial information obtained by the NEH from a submitter that may be protected from disclosure under Exemption 4 of the FOIA.
(2) Submitter means any person or entity from whom the NEH obtains confidential commercial information, directly or indirectly. The term includes corporations; state, local, and tribal governments; and foreign governments.
(c) Designation of confidential commercial information. A submitter of confidential commercial information will use good-faith efforts to designate by appropriate markings, either at the time of submission or at a reasonable time thereafter, any portions of its submission that it considers to be protected from disclosure under Exemption 4. These designations will expire ten years after the date of the submission unless the submitter requests, and provides justification for, a longer designation period.
(d) When notice to submitters is required.
(1) The NEH will give notice to a submitter whenever: (i) The submitter, in good faith, has designated the requested information as information considered protected from disclosure under Exemption 4; or
(ii) The NEH has reason to believe that the information may be protected from disclosure under Exemption 4.
(2) The notice will either describe the confidential commercial information requested or include copies of the requested records or record portions containing the information. In cases involving a voluminous number of submitters, the NEH may make notice by posting or publishing the notice in a place reasonably likely to accomplish it.
(e) Exceptions to submitter notice requirements. The notice requirements of this section will not apply if:
(1) The NEH determines that the requested information is exempt under the FOIA;
(2) The information lawfully has been published or has been officially made available to the public;
(3) Disclosure of the information is required by statute (other than the FOIA) or by a regulation issued in accordance with the requirements of Executive Order 12600 of June 23, 1987; or
(4) The designation made by the submitter under paragraph (c) of this section appears obviously frivolous, except that, in such a case, the NEH will give the submitter written notice of any final decision to disclose the information within a reasonable number of days prior to a specified disclosure date.
(f) Opportunity to object to disclosure. (1) The NEH will specify a reasonable time period within which the submitter must respond to the notice described in paragraph (d)(2) of this section. If a submitter has any objection to disclosure, it must submit a detailed written statement to the NEH specifying all grounds for withholding any portion of the information under any exemption of the FOIA. If the submitter relies on Exemption 4 as a basis of nondisclosure, the submitter must explain why the information constitutes a trade secret, or commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential.
(2) The NEH will consider a submitter who fails to respond with the time period specified on the notice to have no objection to disclosure of the information. The NEH will not consider information it receives from a submitter after the date of any disclosure decision. Any information provided by a submitter under this section may itself be subject to disclosure under the FOIA.
(g) Notice of intent to disclose. The NEH will consider a submitter's objections and specific grounds for nondisclosure in deciding whether to disclose confidential commercial information. Whenever the NEH decides to disclose confidential commercial information over the objection of a submitter, the NEH will provide the submitter written notice, which will include:
(1) A statement of the reason(s) why each of the submitter's disclosure objections was not sustained;
(2) A description of the business information to be disclosed; and
(3) A specified disclosure date, which will be a reasonable time after the notice.
(h) Notice of FOIA lawsuit. Whenever a requester files a lawsuit seeking to compel the disclosure of confidential commercial information, the NEH will promptly notify the submitter.
(i) Requester notification. The NEH will notify the requester whenever the NEH provides the submitter with notice and an opportunity to object to disclosure; whenever the NEH notifies the submitter of its intent to disclose the requested information; and whenever a submitter files a lawsuit to prevent the disclosure of the information.
(a) Appeals of denials. You may appeal a denial of your request for NEH records (except NEH OIG records) and/or FCAH records to The Deputy Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Room 503, Washington, DC 20506. For a denial of your request for OIG records, you may appeal to The Inspector General, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Room 419, Washington DC 20506. You must make your appeal in writing no later than ten (10) days following the date that you receive the letter denying your request (weekends and Federal holidays excluded). Your appeal letter must clearly identify the NEH decision that you are appealing and contain the assigned tracking number. You should clearly mark your appeal letter and envelope “Freedom of Information Act Appeal.”
(b) Responses to appeals. The Deputy Chairman (or designee) or the Inspector General (or designee) will make a written determination on your appeal within twenty (20) days (weekends and Federal holidays excluded) after the agency receives your appeal. If the appeal decision affirms the denial of your request, the NEH will notify you in writing of the reason(s) for the decision, including the applicable FOIA exemption(s), and inform you of the FOIA provisions for court review of the decision. If the denial of your request is reversed or modified, in whole or in part, the NEH will reprocess your request in accordance with that appeal decision and notify you of that decision in writing.
(c) When appeal is required. If you wish to seek review by a court of any denial by the NEH, you must first submit a timely administrative appeal to the NEH.
(a) In general. The NEH will assess fees for processing FOIA requests in accordance with this section and with the Uniform Freedom of Information Fee Schedule and Guidelines published by the Office of Management and Budget at 52 FR 10012 (Mar. 27, 1987). In order to resolve any fee issues that arise under this section, the NEH may Start Printed Page 9658contact a requester for additional information. The NEH ordinarily will collect all applicable fees before sending copies of records to a requester. Requesters must pay fees by check or money order made payable to the Treasury of the United States.
(b) Definitions. For purposes of this section:
(1) Commercial use request means a request from or on behalf of a person who seeks information for a use or purpose that furthers his or her commercial, trade, or profit interest, which can include furthering those interests through litigation. When it appears that the requester will put the records to a commercial use, either because of the nature of the request itself or because the NEH has reasonable cause to doubt a requester's stated use, the NEH will provide the requester a reasonable opportunity to submit further clarification.
(2) Direct costs means those expenses that an agency actually incurs in searching for and duplicating (and, in the case of commercial use requests, reviewing) records to respond to a FOIA request. Direct costs include, for example, the salary of the employee performing the work (the basic rate of pay for the employee, plus 16 percent of that rate to cover benefits) and the cost of operating duplication machinery. Not included in direct costs are overhead expenses such as the costs of space and heating or lighting of the facility in which the records are kept.
(3) Duplication means the making of a copy of a record, or of the information contained in it, necessary to respond to a FOIA request. Copies can take the form of paper, microform, audiovisual materials, or electronic records among others.
(4) Educational institution means any school that operates a program of scholarly research. A requester in this category must show that the request is authorized by and made under the auspices of a qualifying institution and that the records are not sought for a commercial use, but are sought to further scholarly research.
(5) Noncommercial scientific institution means an institution that is not operated on a “commercial” basis, as defined in paragraph (b)(1) above, and that is operated solely for the purpose of conducting scientific research, the results of which are not intended to promote any particular product or industry. A requester in this category must show that the request is authorized by and made under the auspices of a qualifying institution and that the records are not sought for a commercial use or to promote any particular product or industry, but are sought to further scientific research.
(6) Representative of the news media means any person or entity that gathers information of potential interest to a segment of the public, uses its editorial skills to turn the raw materials into a distinct work, and distributes that work to an audience. The term “news” means information that is about current events or that would be of current interest to the public. Examples of news-media entities include television or radio stations broadcasting to the public at large, and publishers of periodicals (but only if such entities qualify as disseminators of “news”) who make their products available for purchase or by subscription or by free distribution to the general public. The NEH will regard “freelance” journalists as working for a news-media organization if they demonstrate a solid basis for expecting publication though that organization. A publication contract would provide the clearest evidence, but the NEH will also consider a requester's past publication record in making this determination.
(7) Review means the process of examining a record located in response to a request in order to determine whether any portion of it is exempt from disclosure. Review includes processing any record for disclosure, such as doing all that is necessary to redact it and prepare it for disclosure. It also includes time spent both obtaining and considering any formal objection to disclosure made by a confidential commercial information submitter under § 1171.9 of this part, but it does not include time spent resolving general legal or policy issues regarding the application of exemptions. Review costs are recoverable even if the NEH ultimately does not disclose a record.
(8) Search means the process of looking for and retrieving records or information responsive to a request. It includes page-by-page or line-by-line identification of information within records and the reasonable efforts expended to locate and retrieve information from electronic records. The NEH will ensure that searches are done in the most efficient and least expensive manner reasonably possible.
(c) Fee Schedule. In responding to FOIA requests, the NEH will charge the following fees for requests, subject to paragraphs (d), (e), and (f) of this section:
(1) Search. (i) The NEH will charge $4.00 for each quarter hour spent by clerical personnel in searching for and retrieving a requested record. When clerical personnel cannot perform the search and retrieval (e.g. identification of records within scope of request requires professional personnel), the NEH will charge $7.00 for each quarter hour of search time spent by professional personnel. Where the time of managerial personnel is required, the fee will be $10.00 for each quarter hour of time spent by those personnel. The NEH may charge for time spent searching even if it does not locate any responsive records or if it determines that the records are entirely exempt from disclosure.
(ii) For computer searches of records, the NEH will charge the actual direct cost of conducting the search. This includes the cost of operating the central processing unit for the portion of operating time that is directly attributed to searching for the records responsive to a FOIA request and the operator/programmer salary apportionable to the search.
(2) Duplication. The fee for a photocopy of a record on one-side of an 81/2 x 11 inch sheet of paper is ten cents per page. For copies of records produced on tapes, disks, or other electronic media, the NEH will charge the direct costs of producing the copy, including operator time. For other forms of duplication, the NEH will charge the direct costs of that duplication. The NEH will honor a requester's preference for receiving a record in a particular form or format where it is readily reproducible by the NEH in the form or format requested.
(3) Review. The NEH will charge review fees to requesters who make a commercial use request. Review fees will be charged only for the initial record review (i.e., the review the NEH conducted to determine whether an exemption applies to a particular record or record portion at the initial request stage). No charge will be made for review at the administrative appeal stage for exemptions applied at the initial review stage. However, if the NEH re-reviews the records for the applicability of other exemptions that it did not previously consider, then the costs for the subsequent review are assessable. Review fees will be charged at the same rates as those charged for a search under paragraph (c)(1)(i). The NEH may charge for review even if it ultimately decides not to disclose a record.
(d) Limitations on charging requesters. (1) Except for requesters seeking records for commercial use, the NEH will provide without charge: (i) The first 100 pages of duplication (or the cost equivalent); and (ii) The first two hours of search (or the cost equivalent).
(2) When, after first deducting the 100 pages (or its cost equivalent) and the Start Printed Page 9659first two hours of search, the total fee is $14.00 or less for any request, the NEH will not charge a fee.
(e) Categories of requesters. There are four categories of FOIA requesters: commercial use requesters; educational and non-commercial scientific institutions; representatives of the news media; and all other requesters. The NEH will assess fees for these categories of requesters as follows:
(1) Commercial use requesters. The NEH will charge the full direct costs for searching for, reviewing, and duplicating requested records.
(2) Educational and non-commercial scientific institution requesters. The NEH will charge for duplication only, excluding costs for the first 100 pages.
(3) News media requesters. The NEH will charge for duplication only, excluding costs for the first 100 pages.
(4) All other requesters. The NEH will charge requesters who do not fit into any of the categories above the full reasonable direct cost of searching for and reproducing records, excluding costs for the first 100 pages and the first two hours of search time.
(f) Requirements for fee waivers or reduction of fees.
(1) The NEH will furnish responsive records without charge or at a reduced charge if it determines, based on all available information, that the requester has demonstrated that:
(i) Disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government, and
(ii) Disclosure of the information is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.
(2) To determine whether the first fee requirement is met, the NEH will consider the following factors:
(i) The subject of the requested records must concern identifiable operations or activities of the Federal government, with a connection that is direct and clear, not remote or attenuated.
(ii) The disclosable portions of the requested records must be meaningfully informative about government operations or activities in order to be “likely to contribute” to an increased public understanding of those operations or activities. Disclosure of information already in the public domain, in either duplicative or substantially identical form, is unlikely to contribute to such understanding where nothing new would be added to the public's understanding.
(iii) The disclosure must contribute to the understanding of a reasonably broad audience of persons interested in the subject, as opposed to the individual understanding of the requester. A requester's expertise in the subject area as well as his or her ability and intention to effectively convey information to the public will be considered. It will ordinarily be presumed that a representative of the news media satisfies this consideration.
(iv) The public's understanding of the subject in question must be enhanced by the disclosure to a significant extent. The NEH will make no value judgments about whether the information at issue is “important” enough to be made public.
(3) To determine whether the second fee waiver requirement is met, the NEH will consider the following factors:
(i) The NEH will identify any commercial interest of the requester, as defined in paragraph (b)(1) of this section, that would be furthered by the requested disclosure. Requesters will be given an opportunity to provide explanatory information regarding this consideration.
(ii) A fee waiver or reduction is justified where the public interest is greater than any identified commercial interest in disclosure.
(4) Where only some of the requested records satisfy the requirements for a fee waiver, a waiver will be granted for those records.
(5) Requesters should make fee waiver or reduction requests when they first submit a FOIA request to the NEH. Fee waiver or reduction requests should address the factors listed in (f)(2) and (3) above. Fee waiver or reduction requests may be submitted at a later time so long as the underlying record request is pending or on administrative appeal.
(g) Notice of anticipated fees in excess of $25.00. (1) When the NEH determines or estimates that the fees to be charged under this section will exceed $25.00, it will notify the requester of the actual or estimated fees, unless the requester has indicated a willingness to pay fees as high as those anticipated. If the NEH can only readily estimate a portion of the fees, it will advise the requester that the estimated fee may be only a portion of the total fee.
(2) The notice will offer the requester an opportunity to confer with NEH personnel in order to reformulate the request to meet the requester's needs at a lower cost. A commitment by the requester to pay the anticipated fee must be in writing and must be received by the NEH within thirty (30) calendar days from the date of notification of the fee estimate. Until the requester agrees to pay the anticipated fee, the NEH will not consider the request as received by the agency and no further work will be done on the request. If a requester fails to respond within this timeframe, the NEH will administratively close the request.
(h) Charges for other services. When the NEH chooses, in its sole discretion, to provide a requested special service (e.g. certifying that records are true copies or sending them by other than ordinary mail), it will charge the direct costs of providing the service to the requester.
(i) Charging interest. The NEH may charge interest on any unpaid bill starting on the 31st day following the date of billing the requester. The NEH will assess interest charges at the rate provided in 31 U.S.C. 3717 and such charges will accrue from the billing date until the NEH receives payment from the requester. The NEH 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.
(j) Advance payment. (1) For requests other than those described in paragraphs (j)(2) and (3) of this section, the NEH will not require the requester to make an advance payment before it commences or continues work on a request. Payment owed for work already completed (i.e., payment before copies are sent to a requester) is not an advance payment.
(2) When the NEH determines or estimates that a total fee to be charged under this section will be more than $250.00, it may require the requester to make an advance payment of an amount up to the amount of the entire anticipated fee before beginning to process the request, except where it receives a satisfactory assurance of full payment from a requester that has a history of prompt payment.
(3) When a requester has previously failed to pay a properly charged fee to the NEH within thirty (30) days of the billing date, the NEH may require the requester to pay the full amount due, plus any applicable interest, and to make an advance payment of the full amount of any anticipated fee, before the NEH begins to process a new request or continues to process a pending request from that requester.
(4) When there is an advance payment request, the NEH will not consider the request as received by the agency and no further work will be done on the request until the required payment is received. If the requester fails to respond within thirty (30) calendar days after the date of the advance payment Start Printed Page 9660request, the NEH will administratively close the request.
(k) Aggregating requests. When the NEH 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 NEH may aggregate those requests and charge accordingly. The NEH may presume that multiple requests of this type made within a 30-day period have been made in order to avoid fees. For requests separated by a longer period, the NEH will aggregate them only when there is a reasonable basis for determining that aggregation is warranted in view of all the circumstances involved. The NEH will not aggregate multiple requests involving unrelated matters.
Other Rights and Services.
Nothing in this part will be construed to entitle any person, as of right, to any service or to the disclosure of any record to which such person is not entitled under the FOIA.
End Supplemental Information
Michael P. McDonald,
[FR Doc. 2013-01746 Filed 2-8-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7536-01-P