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Proposed Rule

Freedom of Information Act Regulations

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Office of the Secretary, Interior.

ACTION:

Proposed rule.

SUMMARY:

This rule would revise the regulations that the Department of the Interior (Department) follows in processing records under the Freedom of Information Act. The revisions clarify and update procedures for requesting information from the Department and procedures that the Department follows in responding to requests from the public.

DATES:

Comments on the rulemaking must be submitted on or before November 30, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments on the rulemaking by either of the methods listed below. Please use Regulation Identifier Number 1093-AA19 in your message.

1. Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions on the Web site for submitting comments.

2. U.S. mail, courier, or hand delivery: Executive Secretariat—FOIA regulations, Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW., Washington, DC 20240.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Cindy Cafaro, Office of Executive Secretariat and Regulatory Affairs, 202-208-5342.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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I. Why We're Publishing This Rule and What It Does

In late 2012, the Department published a final rule updating and replacing the Department's previous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) regulations. Since that time, in order to maintain the independence of the Office of Inspector General (OIG), the Department and the OIG have agreed to authorize the OIG to process their own FOIA appeals. Additionally, the Department has recently migrated its Web site to a new framework, leading to updated links. Finally, the Department has received feedback from its FOIA practitioners and requesters and identified areas where it would be possible to further update, clarify, and streamline the language of some procedural provisions. Therefore, the Department is proposing to make the following changes:

  • Section 2.1(e) would be amended to identify the regulations applicable to Privacy Act requests.
  • Section 2.5(d) would be amended to provide more guidance on what happens when a request does not reasonably describe the records sought.
  • Portions of § 2.6 would be amended to make explicit that a fee waiver request is a valid way of responding to a request for additional fee information and to emphasize fee issues must be resolved before processing will begin.
  • A sentence would be added to § 2.8(a) to require a bureau that cannot readily reproduce the requested record in the form or format requested to explain why it cannot.
  • Section 2.9(b) would be amended to remove a superfluous introductory phrase.
  • Section 2.10 would be amended to highlight the requirements a requester seeking expedited processing must meet and the consequences of not meeting those requirements.
  • Section 2.11 would be amended to reduce the suggested contact information provided by requesters.
  • Section 2.12(c) would be amended to emphasize that reasonable efforts must be made to search for requested records and to clarify when searching for requested records in electronic form or format will not occur.
  • A sentence would be added to § 2.15(e) to require bureaus to provide more information to requesters when placing them in a different processing track than requested.
  • Section 2.16(a) would be amended to clarify and streamline discussion of when the time period for responding to a request begins and ends.
  • The introductory language of § 2.19(a) would be amended to clarify when bureaus may extend the basic time limit.
  • Portions of § 2.20 would be amended to make explicit that expedited processing requests are only appropriate before the bureau issues its final response; to require bureaus to provide more information to requesters when denying expedited processing requests; and to clarify that the portion of an appeal that relates to an expedited processing denial, rather than the entire appeal, will be processed ahead of other appeals.
  • Section 2.22(c) and (d) would be amended to clarify when records may be released to requesters.
  • Section 2.23(a)(3) would be amended to add a clarifying phrase.
  • Section 2.24(b) would be amended and enlarged to require bureaus to provide more information to requesters in denial notifications.
  • Section 2.25(c) would be amended to clarify what information must be provided to requesters, and where, when portions of responsive records have been deleted.
  • Section 2.26 and § 2.27(a) would be amended to provide more information on when submitter notification is required.
  • One word in § 2.27(b) would be replaced to more closely track the language of Executive Order No. 12600, (52 FR 23781, published June 23, 1987).
  • Section 2.28(a) would be amended to clarify that a general description of the request would suffice for submitter notices published under § 2.27(b).
  • Section 2.31(a)(1) and (2) would be amended to clarify the information a submitter must provide when objecting to the release of responsive information under Exemption 4.
  • Section 2.37(g) would be added and § 2.49(a)(1) would be amended so the concept that requesters generally will not be charged if the fee for processing their request is less than $50 is introduced sooner.
  • Section 2.37(h) would be added to make the consequences of failure to pay bills for FOIA-related fees explicit.
  • Section 2.37(i) would be added to notify requesters they can seek assistance, when considering reformulating their request to meet their needs at a lower cost, from the bureau's designated FOIA contact or FOIA Public Liaison.
  • A sentence would be added to § 2.38(b) to require bureaus to provide more information to requesters when placing them in a different fee category than requested.
  • Section 2.39 would be amended to replace one word for the sake of grammatical consistency.
  • Section 2.42(d) would be amended to further discuss the impact of requester preferences for paper and/or electronic formats.
  • Section 2.44(b) would be amended to provide different examples of special services a requester might have to pay for.
  • The introductory language of §§ 2.45(a) and 2.48(a) would be amended to clarify what a requester must demonstrate to be entitled to a fee waiver.
  • Section 2.46(b) would be amended to clarify when fee waiver requests may be made.
  • Minor grammatical changes would be made to § 2.47(a), (c), and (d) to allow a new § 2.47(e) to increase clarity and require bureaus to provide the requester with notice of anticipated fees when denying a request for a fee waiver.
  • Section 2.48(a)(2)(v) would be amended to note that representatives of the news media will be presumed to have the ability and intent to disseminate the requested information to a reasonably broad audience of persons interested in the subject.
  • Section 2.49(c) would be amended to allow requesters more flexibility in resolving fee issues.
  • Portions of § 2.50 would be amended to clarify and streamline discussion of advance payments.
  • Section 2.51(b)(3) would be amended to ensure consistent phrasing.
  • Section 2.57(a)(5) and (6) would be amended to include minor, clarifying additions.
  • Section 2.60 would be amended to reflect that the FOIA Appeals Officer would no longer be the deciding official for FOIA appeals arising from OIG FOIA responses, and small portions of §§ 2.20(c), 2.24(b)(5), 2.47(d), 2.62, and 2.63 would also be amended to reflect this change.
  • Section 2.62 would be streamlined to follow the requirements of FOIA more closely.
  • Section 2.66 would be amended to provide more information on the role played by FOIA Public Liaisons.
  • A word would be added to the definition of “multitrack processing” in Section 2.70 to ensure it is consistent with Section 2.14.
  • Section 2.1(d), 2.1(g), 2.3(c), 2.21(a), 2.41(c), 2.59(a), 2.65, and 2.70 would be amended to reflect updated Web site links.

II. Compliance With Laws and Executive Orders

1. Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563)

Executive Order (E.O) 12866 provides that the Office of Information and Start Printed Page 58665Regulatory Affairs will review all significant rules. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has determined that this rule is not significant.

Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of E.O. 12866 while calling for improvements in the nation's regulatory system to promote predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, and consistent with regulatory objectives. E.O. 13563 emphasizes further that regulations must be based on the best available science and that the rulemaking process must allow for public participation and an open exchange of ideas. We have developed this rule in a manner consistent with these requirements.

2. Regulatory Flexibility Act

The Department of the Interior certifies that this rule will not have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.).

3. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

This is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. This rule:

a. Does not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more.

b. Will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, or local government agencies, or geographic regions.

c. Does not have significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises.

4. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

This rule does not impose an unfunded mandate on State, local, or tribal governments or the private sector of more than $100 million per year. This rule does not have a significant or unique effect on State, local, or tribal governments or the private sector. A statement containing the information required by the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) is not required.

5. Takings (E.O. 12630)

In accordance with Executive Order 12630, this rule does not have significant takings implications. A takings implication assessment is not required.

6. Federalism (E.O. 13132)

In accordance with Executive Order 13132, this rule does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a federalism summary impact statement. It would not substantially and directly affect the relationship between the Federal and state governments. A federalism summary impact statement is not required.

7. Civil Justice Reform (E.O. 12988)

In accordance with Executive Order 12988, the Office of the Solicitor has determined that this rule does not unduly burden the judicial system and meets the requirements of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Executive Order.

8. Consultation With Indian Tribes (E.O. 13175)

Under the criteria in Executive Order 13175, we have evaluated this rule and determined that it has no potential effects on federally recognized Indian tribes. This rule does not have tribal implications that impose substantial direct compliance costs on Indian Tribal governments.

9. Paperwork Reduction Act

This rule does not contain information collection requirements, and a submission to the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act is not required.

9. National Environmental Policy Act

This rule does not constitute a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. A detailed statement under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) is not required. Pursuant to Department Manual 516 DM 2.3A(2), Section 1.10 of 516 DM 2, Appendix 1 excludes from documentation in an environmental assessment or impact statement “policies, directives, regulations and guidelines of an administrative, financial, legal, technical or procedural nature; or the environmental effects of which are too broad, speculative or conjectural to lend themselves to meaningful analysis and will be subject late to the NEPA process, either collectively or case-by-case.”

10. Effects on the Energy Supply (E.O. 13211)

This rule is not a significant energy action under the definition in Executive Order 13211. A Statement of Energy Effects is not required. This rule will not have a significant effect on the nation's energy supply, distribution, or use.

11. Clarity of This Regulation

We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain language. This means that each rule we publish must:

(a) Be logically organized;

(b) Use the active voice to address readers directly;

(c) Use clear language rather than jargon;

(d) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and

(e) Use lists and tables wherever possible.

If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us comments by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. To better help us revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections or paragraphs that you find unclear, which sections or sentences are too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be useful, etc.

12. Public Availability of Comments

Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Start List of Subjects

List of Subjects in 43 CFR Part 2

  • Freedom of information
End List of Subjects Start Signature

Kristen J. Sarri,

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget.

End Signature

For the reasons stated in the preamble, the Department of the Interior proposes to amend part 2 of title 43 of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

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PART 2—FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT; RECORDS AND TESTIMONY

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1. The authority citation for part 2 continues to read as follows:

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Start Printed Page 58666 Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301, 552, 552a, 553; 31 U.S.C. 3717; 43 U.S.C. 1460, 1461.

End Authority

Subpart A—Introduction

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2. Amend § 2.1 by:

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a. In paragraph (d), the second sentence, removing the Web site address “ http://www.doi.gov/​foia/​guidance.cfm and adding in its place the Web site address https://www.doi.gov/​foia/​news/​guidance;​

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b. Revising paragraph (e); and

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c. In paragraph (g), the first sentence, removing the Web site address “ http://www.doi.gov/​foia/​libraries.cfm and adding in its place the Web site address “http://www.doi.gov/​foia/​libraries.

End Amendment Part

The revision reads as follows:

What should you know up front?
* * * * *

(e) The Department's regulations for requests made under the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. 552a, are located at subpart K of this part.

* * * * *

Subpart B—How To Make a Request

[Amended]
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3. Amend § 2.3(c), the second sentence, by:

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a. Removing the Web site address “ http://www.doi.gov/​foia/​index.cfm and adding in its place the Web site address “https://www.doi.gov/​foia;​ and

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b. Removing the Web site address “ http://www.doi.gov/​foia/​contacts.cfm and adding in its place the Web site address “http://www.doi.gov/​foia/​contacts.

End Amendment Part Start Amendment Part

4. In § 2.5, revise paragraph (d) to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
How should you describe the records you seek?
* * * * *

(d) If the request does not reasonably describe the records sought, the bureau will inform you what additional information you need to provide in order to reasonably describe the records that you seek so the requested records can be located with a reasonable amount of effort. The bureau will also notify you that it will not be able to comply with your request unless the additional information it has requested is received from you in writing within 20 workdays and that you may appeal this determination. If you receive this type of notification, you may wish to discuss it with the bureau's designated FOIA contact or its FOIA Public Liaison (see § 2.66 of this part). If you do not provide the bureau with the additional information as discussed above, the bureau will presume that you are no longer interested in the records and will close the file on the request.

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5. Amend § 2.6 by:

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a. In paragraph (b) introductory text by adding the words “or request a fee waiver” after the words “pay processing fees”; and

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b. Revising paragraphs (b)(3), (d), and (e).

End Amendment Part

The revisions read as follows:

How will fee information affect the processing of your request?
* * * * *

(b) * * *

(3) That it will not be able to fully comply with your request unless you provide a fee waiver request and/or the requested written assurance or advance payment.

* * * * *

(d) If you are seeking a fee waiver, your request must include a justification that addresses and meets the criteria in §§ 2.45, 2.48, and 2.56 of this part. Failure to provide sufficient justification will result in a denial of the fee waiver request. If you are seeking a fee waiver, you may also indicate the amount you are willing to pay if the fee waiver is denied. This allows the bureau to process the request for records while it considers your fee waiver request.

(e) The bureau will begin processing the request only after all issues regarding fees are resolved.

* * * * *
Start Amendment Part

6. In § 2.8, add a sentence to the end of paragraph (a) to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
Can you ask for records to be disclosed in a particular form or format?

(a) * * * If the bureau cannot readily reproduce the record in that form or format, it must explain why it cannot.

* * * * *
Start Amendment Part

7. In § 2.9, revise paragraph (b) to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
What if your request seeks records about another person?
* * * * *

(b) The bureau can require you to supply additional information if necessary to verify that a particular person has consented to disclosure or is deceased.

Start Amendment Part

8. Revise § 2.10 to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
May you ask for the processing of your request to be expedited?

You may ask for the processing of your request to be expedited. If you are seeking expedited processing, your request must include a justification that addresses and meets the criteria in § 2.20 of this part. Failure to provide sufficient justification will result in a denial of the expedited processing request.

Start Amendment Part

9. Revise § 2.11 to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
What contact information should your request include?

A request should include your name and a way (such as a mailing or email address) for the bureau to send responsive records to you and to request additional information or clarification of your request. You may also wish to include a daytime telephone number (or the name and telephone number of an appropriate contact).

Subpart C—Processing Requests

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10. In § 2.12, revise paragraph (c) to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
What should you know about how bureaus process requests?
* * * * *

(c) The bureau will make reasonable efforts to search for the requested records. As part of its reasonable efforts, the bureau will search paper and/or electronic records (for example, emails), as appropriate. The bureau will not search for records in an electronic form or format if these efforts would significantly interfere with the operation of the bureau's automated information system.

* * * * *

Subpart D—Timing of Responses to Requests

Start Amendment Part

11. In § 2.15, add a sentence to the end of paragraph (e) to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
What is multitrack processing and how does it affect your request?
* * * * *

(e) * * * If you request placement in a particular processing track but the bureau places you in a different processing track, the bureau will provide you with an explanation of why you were not placed in the processing track you requested.

* * * * *
Start Amendment Part

12. In § 2.16, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
What is the basic time limit for responding to a request?

(a) Ordinarily, the bureau has 20 workdays (including the date of receipt) to determine whether to comply with a request, but unusual circumstances may allow the bureau to take longer than 20 workdays (see § 2.19 of this subpart).

* * * * *
Start Amendment Part

13. In § 2.19, revise paragraph (a) introductory text to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
When may the bureau extend the basic time limit?

(a) The bureau may extend the basic time limit, if unusual circumstances exist, by notifying you in writing of:

* * * * *
Start Printed Page 58667
Start Amendment Part

14. In § 2.20, revise paragraphs (c), (f), and (g) to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
When will expedited processing be provided and how will it affect your request?
* * * * *

(c) You may ask for expedited processing of your request by writing to the appropriate FOIA contact in the bureau that maintains the records requested any time before the bureau issues its final response to your request. When making a request for expedited processing of an administrative appeal, submit the request to the appropriate deciding official for FOIA appeals.

* * * * *

(f) If expedited processing is denied, the bureau will:

(1) Inform you of the basis for the denial, including an explanation of why the expedited processing request does not meet the Department's expedited processing criteria under this section; and

(2) Notify you of the right to appeal the decision on expedited processing in accordance with the procedures in subpart H of this part.

(g) If you appeal the bureau's expedited processing decision, this portion of your appeal (if it is properly formatted under § 2.59 of this part) will be processed before appeals that do not challenge expedited processing decisions.

* * * * *

Subpart E—Responses to Requests

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15. In § 2.21(a), the second sentence, remove the Web site address “ http://www.doi.gov/​foia/​news/​guidance/​index.cfm and add in its place the Web site address “https://www.doi.gov/​foia/​news/​guidance.

End Amendment Part Start Amendment Part

16. Amend § 2.22 by:

End Amendment Part Start Amendment Part

a. Revising paragraph (c); and

End Amendment Part Start Amendment Part

b. In paragraph (d), adding the words “released or” after the words “the records will be”.

End Amendment Part

The revision reads as follows:

How will bureaus grant requests?
* * * * *

(c) The bureau will release records (or portions of records) to you promptly upon payment of any applicable fees (or before then, at its discretion).

* * * * *
Start Amendment Part

17. In § 2.23(a)(3), add the words “and/or control” after the words “bureau's possession”.

End Amendment Part Start Amendment Part

18. In § 2.24, revise paragraph (b) to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
How will the bureau deny requests?
* * * * *

(b) The denial notification must include:

(1) The name and title or position of the person responsible for the denial, along with an office phone number or email address;

(2) A statement of the reasons for the denial;

(3) A reference to any FOIA exemption applied by the bureau to withhold records in full or in part;

(4) An estimate of the volume of any records withheld in full or in part (for example, by providing the number of pages or some other reasonable form of estimation), unless an estimate would harm an interest protected by an exemption used to withhold the records;

(5) The name and title of the Office of the Solicitor or Office of General Counsel attorney consulted (if the bureau is denying a fee waiver request or withholding all or part of a requested record); and

(6) A statement that the denial may be appealed under subpart H of this part and a description of the procedures in subpart H of this part.

Start Amendment Part

19. In § 2.25, revise paragraph (c) to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
What if the requested records contain both exempt and nonexempt material?
* * * * *

(c) If technically feasible, indicating the FOIA exemption under which the deletion of information was made, as required by paragraph (b) of this section, at the place in the record where the deletion was made.

Subpart F—Handling Confidential Information

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20. Revise § 2.26 to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
May submitters of possibly confidential information designate confidential information when making Departmental submissions?

(a) The Department encourages, but does not require, submitters to designate confidential information in good faith (in other words, to identify specific information as information considered protected from disclosure under Exemption 4 of the FOIA, found at 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(4)), at the time of submission or reasonably soon thereafter.

(b) The designations discussed in paragraph (a) of this section assist the bureau in determining whether information obtained from the submitter is confidential, but are not determinative; these designations therefore do not preempt the requirement for bureau-provided notifications under § 2.27 of this subpart.

Start Amendment Part

21. Amend § 2.27 by:

End Amendment Part Start Amendment Part

a. Revising paragraph (a); and

End Amendment Part Start Amendment Part

b. In paragraph (b), removing the word “large” and adding in its place the word “voluminous”.

End Amendment Part

The revision reads as follows:

When will the bureau notify a submitter of a request for their possibly confidential information?

(a) Except as outlined in § 2.29 of this subpart, a bureau must promptly notify a submitter in writing when it receives a FOIA request if:

(1) The requested information has been designated by the submitter under § 2.26(a) of this subpart; or

(2) The requested information has not been designated by the submitter under § 2.26(a) of this subpart, but the requested information may be protected from disclosure under Exemption 4 of the FOIA, found at 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(4).

* * * * *
Start Amendment Part

22. In § 2.28, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
What information will the bureau include when it notifies a submitter of a request for their possibly confidential information?
* * * * *

(a) Either a copy of the request, the exact language of the request, or (for notices published under § 2.27(b) of this subpart) a general description of the request;

* * * * *
Start Amendment Part

23. In § 2.31, revise paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
What must a submitter include in a detailed Exemption 4 objection statement?

(a) * * *

(1) Whether the submitter provided the information voluntarily and, if so, how disclosure will impair the Government's ability to obtain similar information in the future and/or how the information fits into a category of information that the submitter does not customarily release to the public;

(2) Whether the Government required the information to be submitted, and if so, how disclosure will impair the Government's ability to obtain similar information in the future and/or how substantial competitive or other business harm would likely result from disclosure; and

* * * * *

Subpart G—Fees

24. In § 2.37, add paragraphs (g), (h), and (i) to read as follows:

Start Printed Page 58668
What general principles govern fees?
* * * * *

(g) If the fee for processing your request is less than $50, you will not be charged unless multiple requests are aggregated under § 2.54 of this subpart to an amount that is $50 or more.

(h) If you fail to pay any FOIA-related fee within 30 calendar days of the date of billing, the processing of any new or ongoing requests and/or appeals from you shall ordinarily be suspended.

(i) If you would like to reformulate your request so it will meet your needs at a lower cost, you may wish to seek assistance from the bureau's designated FOIA contact or its FOIA Public Liaison (see § 2.66 of this part).

Start Amendment Part

25. In § 2.38, add a sentence to the end of paragraph (b) to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
What are the requester fee categories?
* * * * *

(b) * * * If you request placement in a particular fee category but the bureau places you in a different fee category, the bureau will provide you with an explanation of why you were not placed in the fee category you requested (for example, if you were placed in the commercial use requester category rather than the category you requested, the bureau will describe how the records would further your commercial, trade, or profit interests).

* * * * *
Start Amendment Part

26. In § 2.39, in the table in paragraph (a), remove the word “non-commercial” and add in its place the word “noncommercial.”

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27. In § 2.41(c), remove the Web site address “ http://www.doi.gov/​foia/​fees-waivers.cfm and add in its place the Web site address “http://www.doi.gov/​foia/​fees-waivers.

End Amendment Part Start Amendment Part

28. In § 2.42, revise paragraph (d) to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
What duplication fees will you have to pay?
* * * * *

(d) If the bureau must scan paper records to accommodate your preference to receive records in an electronic format or print electronic records to accommodate your preference to receive records in a paper format, you will pay both the per page amount noted in Appendix A to this part and the time spent by personnel scanning or printing the requested records. For each quarter hour spent by personnel scanning or printing the requested records, the fees will be the same as those charged for a search under § 2.41(b) of this subpart.

Start Amendment Part

29. In § 2.44, revise paragraph (b) to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
What fees for other services will you have to pay?
* * * * *

(b) Examples of these services include providing multiple copies of the same record, converting records that are not already maintained in a requested format to the requested format, obtaining research data under § 2.69 of this part, sending records by means other than first class mail, and conducting a search that requires the creation of a new computer search program to locate the requested records.

* * * * *
[Amended]
Start Amendment Part

30. In § 2.45, in paragraph (a) introductory text, remove the words “under the factors” and add in their place the words “by addressing and meeting each of the criteria”.

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31. In § 2.46, revise paragraph (b) to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
When may you ask the bureau for a fee waiver?
* * * * *

(b) You may submit a fee waiver request at a later time if the bureau has not yet completed processing your request.

Start Amendment Part

32. Amend § 2.47 by:

End Amendment Part Start Amendment Part

a. In paragraph (a), removing the period at the end of the paragraph and adding in its place a semicolon;

End Amendment Part Start Amendment Part

b. In paragraph (c), removing the word “and” at the end of the paragraph;

End Amendment Part Start Amendment Part

c. In paragraph (d), removing the period at the end of the paragraph and adding in its place “; and”; and

End Amendment Part Start Amendment Part

d. Adding paragraph (e).

End Amendment Part

The addition reads as follows:

How will the bureau notify you if it denies your fee waiver request?
* * * * *

(e) Your anticipated fees, in accordance with § 2.49 of this subpart.

Start Amendment Part

33. Amend § 2.48 by revising paragraph (a) introductory text and adding a sentence to the end of paragraph (a)(2)(v) to read as follows:

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How will the bureau evaluate your fee waiver request?

(a) In deciding whether your fee waiver request meets the requirements of § 2.45(a)(1) of this subpart, the bureau will consider the criteria listed in paragraphs (a)(1) through (4) of this section. You must address and meet each of these criteria in order to demonstrate that you are entitled to a fee waiver.

* * * * *

(2) * * *

(v)* * * If you are a representative of the news media, we will presume you have this ability and intent.

* * * * *
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34. In § 2.49, revise paragraphs (a)(1) and (c) to read as follows:

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When will you be notified of anticipated fees?

(a) * * *

(1) The anticipated fee is less than $50 (see § 2.37(g) of this subpart).

* * * * *

(c) The bureau must receive information from you that resolves any fee issues, in accordance with paragraphs (b)(2) and/or (4) of this section, within 20 workdays or the bureau will close the request.

* * * * *
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35. In § 2.50, revise paragraph (a), paragraph (b) introductory text, and paragraphs (c) and (d) to read as follows:

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When will the bureau require advance payment?

(a) When a bureau determines or estimates that the total fee you will be charged under this subpart will exceed $250, the bureau may require you to make an advance payment up to the amount of the entire anticipated fee before the bureau begins, or continues, to process your request. If you have a history of prompt payment of FOIA fees, a bureau may elect to process your request before collecting fees when you provide it with a satisfactory assurance of full payment.

(b) If the bureau believes that you did not pay a previous FOIA fee within 30 calendar days of the date of billing, the bureau will require you to either:

* * * * *

(c) When the bureau notifies you that an advance payment is due under paragraph (a) of this section, it will give you an opportunity to reduce the fee by modifying the request.

(d) Your payment of the funds you owe the bureau for work it has already completed before records are sent to you is not an advance payment under § 2.50(a) of this subpart.

* * * * *
[Amended]
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36. In § 2.51(b)(3), remove the words “hears from you” and add in their place the words “receives a written response from you”.

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Subpart H—Administrative Appeals

[Amended]
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37. Amend § 2.57 by:

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a. In paragraph (a)(5), adding the words “or you have been placed in the wrong fee category” after the word “calculated”; and

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b. In paragraph (a)(6), adding the words “your request for” after the word “denied”.

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[Amended]
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38. In § 2.59(a), the first sentence, remove the Web site address “ http://www.doi.gov/​foia/​appeals.cfm and add in its place the Web site address “http://www.doi.gov/​foia/​appeals.

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39. Revise § 2.60 to read as follows:

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Who makes decisions on appeals?

(a) The FOIA Appeals Officer is the deciding official for FOIA appeals that do not appeal a decision of the Office of the Inspector General.

(b) The General Counsel is the deciding official for FOIA appeals that appeal a decision of the Office of the Inspector General.

(c) When necessary, the appropriate deciding official for FOIA appeals will consult other appropriate offices, including the Office of the Solicitor or Office of General Counsel for denials of records and fee waivers.

(d) The deciding official for FOIA appeals normally will not make a decision on an appeal if the request becomes a matter of FOIA litigation.

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40. Revise § 2.62 to read as follows:

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When can you expect a decision on your appeal?

(a) The basic time limit for responding to an appeal is 20 workdays after receipt of an appeal meeting the requirements of § 2.59 of this subpart.

(b) If the Department is unable to reach a decision on your appeal within the given time limit for response, the appropriate deciding official for FOIA appeals will notify you of your statutory right to seek review in a United States District Court.

[Amended]
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41. In § 2.63, paragraphs (b) and (c), remove the words “FOIA Appeals Officer” and add in their place the words “appropriate deciding official for FOIA appeals”.

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Subpart I—General Information

[Amended]
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42. In § 2.65, the first sentence, remove the Web site address “ http://www.doi.gov/​foia/​libraries.cfm and add in its place the Web site address “http://www.doi.gov/​foia/​libraries.

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43. In § 2.66, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:

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What are public liaisons?

(a) Each bureau has a FOIA Public Liaison who can assist requesters who have concerns about the service they received when seeking records or who are seeking assistance under § 2.3(d) or § 2.37(i) of this part.

* * * * *
[Amended]
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44. Amend § 2.70 by:

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a. In the definition of Bureau, removing the Web site address “http://www.doi.gov/​foia/​contacts.cfm and adding in its place the Web site address http://www.doi.gov/​foia/​contacts;​ and

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b. In the definition of Multitrack processing, the second sentence, adding the word “ordinarily” after the word “are”.

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[FR Doc. 2015-24703 Filed 9-29-15; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4310-10-P