« PreviousContinue »
(13) Review, for fee purposes, refers to the process of examining records located in response to a commercial use request to determine whether any portion of any record located is permitted to be withheld. It also includes processing any records for disclosure; e.g., doing all that is necessary to excise them and otherwise prepare them for release.
(14) Search includes all time spent looking for material that is responsive to a request, including page-by-page or line-by-line identification of material within records. Searches may be done manually or by automated means.
§1.2 Information made available.
(a) General. The FOIA (5 U.S.C. 552) provides for access to information and records developed or maintained by Federal agencies. The provisions of section 552 are intended to assure the right of the public to information. Generally, this section divides agency information into three major categories and provides methods by which each category of information is to be made available to the public. The three major categories of information are as follows:
(1) Information required to be published in the FEDERAL REGISTER (see §1.3);
(2) Information required to be made available for public inspection and copying or, in the alternative, to be published and offered for sale (see §1.4); and
(3) Information required to be made available to any member of the public upon specific request (see §1.5).
(b) Subject only to the exemptions and exclusions set forth in 5 U.S.C. 552(b) and (c), any person shall be afforded access to information or records in the possession of any bureau of the Department of the Treasury, subject to the regulations in this subpart and any regulations of a bureau implementing or supplementing them.
(c) Exemptions. (1) The disclosure requirements of 5 U.S.C. 552(a) do not apply to certain matters which are exempt under 5 U.S.C. 552(b); nor do the disclosure requirements apply to certain matters which are excluded under 5 U.S.C. 552(c).
(2) Even though an exemption described in 5 U.S.C. 552(b) may be applicable to the information or records requested, a Treasury bureau may, if not precluded by law, elect under the circumstances of that request not to apply the exemption. The fact that the exemption is not applied by a bureau in response to a particular request shall have no precedential significance in processing other requests, but is merely an indication that, in the processing of the particular request, the bureau finds no necessity for applying the exemption.
§ 1.3 Publication in the Federal Register.
(a) Requirement. Subject to the application of the exemptions and exclusions in 5 U.S.C. 552(b) and (c) and subject to the limitations provided in 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(1), each Treasury bureau shall, in conformance with 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(1), separately state, publish and maintain current in the FEDERAL REGISTER for the guidance of the public the following information with respect to that bureau:
(1) Descriptions of its central and field organization and the established places at which, the persons from whom, and the methods whereby, the public may obtain information, make submittals or requests, or obtain decisions;
(2) Statements of the general course and method by which its functions are channeled and determined, including the nature and requirements of all formal and informal procedures available;
(3) Rules of procedure, descriptions of forms available or the places at which forms may be obtained, and instructions as to the scope and contents of all papers, reports, or examinations;
(4) Substantive rules of general applicability adopted as authorized by law, and statements of general policy or interpretations of general applicability formulated and adopted by the bureau; and
(5) Each amendment, revision, or repeal of matters referred to in paragraphs (a)(1) through (4) of this section.
(b) The United States Government Manual. The functions of each bureau are summarized in the description of the Department and its bureaus in the
United States Government Manual, which is issued annually by the Office of the Federal Register.
§1.4 Public inspection and copying.
(a) In general. Subject to the application of the exemptions and exclusions described in 5 U.S.C. 552(b) and (c), each Treasury bureau shall, in conformance with 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(2), make available for public inspection and copying, or, in the alternative, promptly publish and offer for sale the following information with respect to the bureau:
(1) Final opinions, including concurring and dissenting opinions, and orders, made in the adjudication of cases;
(2) Those statements of policy and interpretations which have been adopted by the bureau but are not published in the FEDERAL REGISTER;
(3) Its administrative staff manuals and instructions to staff that affect a member of the public;
(4) Copies of all records, regardless of form or format, which have been released to any person under 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(3), and which the bureau determines have become or are likely to become the subject of subsequent requests for substantially the same records because they are clearly of interest to the public at large. The determination that records have become or may become the subject of subsequent requests shall be made by the Responsible Official (as defined at §1.1(b)(12)).
(5) A general index of the records referred to in paragraph (a)(4) of this section.
(b) Information made available by computer telecommunications. For records required to be made available for public inspection and copying pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(2) (paragraphs (a)(1) through (4) of this section) which are created on or after November 1, 1996, as soon as practicable but no later than one year after such records are created, each bureau shall make such records available on the Internet.
(c) Deletion of identifying details. To prevent a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, or pursuant to an exemption in 5 U.S.C. 552(b), a Treasury bureau may delete information contained in any matter described in paragraphs (a)(1) through (4) of this section before making such matters
available for inspection or publishing it. The justification for the deletion shall be explained fully in writing, and the extent of such deletion shall be indicated on the portion of the record which is made available or published, unless including that indication would harm an interest protected by the exemption in 5 U.S.C. 552(b) under which the deletion is made. If technically feasible, the extent of the deletion shall be indicated at the place in the record where the deletion was made.
(d) Public reading rooms. Each bureau of the Department of the Treasury shall make available for public inspection and copying, in a reading room or otherwise, the material described in paragraphs (a)(1) through (5) of this section. Fees for duplication shall be charged in accordance with §1.7. See the appendices to this subpart for the location of established bureau reading
(e) Indexes. (1) Each bureau of the Department of the Treasury shall maintain and make available for public inspection and copying current indexes identifying any material described in paragraphs (a)(1) through (3) of this section. In addition, each bureau shall promptly publish, quarterly or more frequently, and distribute (by sale or otherwise) copies of each index or supplement unless the head of each bureau (or a delegate) determines by order published in the FEDERAL REGISTER that the publication would be unnecessary and impractical, in which case the bureau shall nonetheless provide copies of the index on request at a cost not to exceed the direct cost of duplication.
(2) Each bureau shall make the index referred to in paragraph (a)(5) of this section available on the Internet by December 31, 1999.
with the rules and procedures of this subpart and the applicable bureau's appendix to this subpart. Any request or appeal from the initial denial of a request that does not comply with the requirements in this subpart will not be considered subject to the time constraints of paragraphs (h), (i), and (j) of this section, unless and until the request is amended to comply. Bureaus shall promptly advise the requester in what respect the request or appeal is deficient so that it may be amended and resubmitted for consideration in accordance with this subpart. If a requester does not respond within 30 days to a communication from a bureau to amend the request in order for it to be in conformance with this subpart, the request file will be considered closed. When the request conforms with the requirements of this subpart, bureaus shall make every reasonable effort to comply with the request within the time constraints. If the description of the record requested is of a type that is not maintained by the bureau, the requester shall be so advised and the request shall be returned to the requester.
(2) This subpart applies only to records in the possession or control of the bureau at the time of the request. Records considered to be responsive to the request are those in existence on or before the date of receipt of the request by the appropriate bureau official. Requests for the continuing production of records created after the date of the appropriate bureau official's receipt of the request shall not be honored. Bureaus shall provide the responsive record or records in the form or format requested if the record or records are readily reproducible by the bureau in that form or format. Bureaus shall make reasonable efforts to maintain their records in forms or formats that are reproducible for the purpose of disclosure. For purposes of this section, readily reproducible means, with respect to electronic format, a record or records that can be downloaded or transferred intact to a floppy disk, compact disk (CD), tape, or other electronic medium using equipment currently in use by the office or offices processing the request. Even though some records may initially be readily
reproducible, the need to segregate exempt from nonexempt records may cause the releasable material to not be readily reproducible.
(3) Requests for information classified pursuant to Executive Order 12958, "Classified National Security Information," require the responsible bureau to review the information to determine whether it continues to warrant classification. Information which no longer warrants classification under the Executive Order's criteria shall be declassified and made available to the requester, unless the information is otherwise exempt from disclosure.
(4) When a bureau receives five or more requests for substantially the same records, it shall place those requests in front of an existing request backlog that the responsible official may have. Upon completion of processing, the released records shall be made available in the bureau's public reading room, and if created on or after November 1, 1996, shall be made available in the electronic reading room of the bureau's web site.
(b) Form of request. In order to be subject to the provisions of this section, the following must be satisfied.
(1) The request for records shall be made in writing, signed by the person making the request, and state that it is made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552, or this subpart.
(2) The request shall indicate whether the requester is a commercial user, an educational institution, non-commercial scientific institution, representative of the news media, or "other" requester, subject to the fee provisions described in §1.7. In order for the Department to determine the proper category for fee purposes as defined in this section, a request for records shall also state how the records released will be used. This information shall not be used to determine the releasibility of any record or records. A determination of the proper category of requester shall be based upon a review of the requester's submission and the bureau's own records. Where a bureau has reasonable cause to doubt the use to which a requester will put the records sought, or where that use is not clear from the request itself, bureaus
should seek additional clarification before assigning the request to a specific category. The categories of requesters are defined as follows:
(i) Commercial. A commercial use request refers to a request from or on behalf of one who seeks information for a use or purpose that furthers the commercial, trade, or profit interests of the requester or the person on whose behalf the request is made, which can include furthering those interests through litigation. The bureaus may determine from the use specified in the request that the requester is a commercial user.
(ii) Educational institution. This refers to a preschool, a public or private elementary or secondary school, an institution of graduate higher education, an institution of undergraduate higher education, an institution of professional education, and an institution of vocational education, which operates a program or programs of scholarly research. This category does not include requesters wanting records for use in meeting individual academic research or study requirements.
(iii) Non-commercial scientific institution. This refers to an institution that
is not operated on a "commercial" basis as that term is defined in paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section, and which is operated solely for the purpose of conducting scientific research, the results of which are not intended to promote any particular product or industry.
(iv) Representative of the news media. This refers to any person actively gathering news for an entity that is organized and operated to publish or broadcast news to the public. 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 in those instances when they can qualify as disseminators of "news") who make their products available for purchase or subscription by the general public. These examples are not intended to be all-inclusive. In the case of "freelance" journalists, they may be regarded as working for a news organization if they can dem
onstrate a solid basis for expecting publication through that organization, even though not actually employed by it. A publication contract would be the clearest proof, but bureaus may also look to the past publication record of a requester in making this determination.
(v) "Other" Requester. This refers to a requester who does not fall within any of the previously described categories.
(3) The request must be properly addressed to the bureau that maintains the record. The functions of each bureau are summarized in The United States Government Manual which is issued annually and is available from the Superintendent of Documents. Both the envelope and the request itself should be clearly marked "Freedom of Information Act Request." See the appendices to this subpart for the office or officer to which requests shall be addressed for each bureau. A requester in need of guidance in defining a request or determining the proper bureau to which a request should be sent may contact Disclosure Services at 202/ 622-0930, or may write to Disclosure Services, Department of the Treasury, 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20220. Requesters may access the "FOIA Home Page" at the Department of the Treasury World Wide Web site at: http://www.treas.gov.
(4) The request must reasonably describe the records in accordance with paragraph (d) of this section.
(5) The request must set forth the address where the person making the request wants to be notified about whether or not the request will be granted.
(6) The request must state whether the requester wishes to inspect the records or desires to have a copy made and furnished without first inspecting them.
(7) The request must state the firm agreement of the requester to pay the fees for search, duplication, and review as may ultimately be determined in accordance with §1.7. The agreement may state the upper limit (but not less than $25) that the requester is willing to pay for processing the request. A request that fees be waived or reduced may accompany the agreement to pay fees and shall be considered to the extent that
such request is made in accordance with §1.7(d) and provides supporting information to be measured against the fee waiver standard set forth in §1.7(d)(1). The requester shall be notified in writing of the decision to grant or deny the fee waiver. A requester shall be asked to provide an agreement to pay fees when the request for a fee waiver or reduction is denied and the initial request for records does not include such agreement. If a requester has an outstanding balance of search, review, or duplication fees due for FOIA request processing, the requirements of this paragraph are not met until the requester has remitted the outstanding balance due.
(c) Requests for records not in control of bureau; referrals; consultations. (1) When a requested record is in the possession or under the control of a bureau of the Department other than the office to which the request is addressed, the request for the record shall be transferred to the appropriate bureau and the requester notified. This referral shall not be considered a denial of access within the meaning of these regulations. The bureau of the Department to which this referral is made shall treat this request as a new request addressed to it and the time limits for response set forth by paragraph (h)(1) of this section shall begin when the referral is received by the designated office or officer of the bureau.
(2) When a requested record has been created by an agency or Treasury bureau other than the Treasury bureau possessing the record, the bureau having custody of the record shall refer the record to the originating agency or Treasury bureau for a direct response to the requester. The requester shall be informed of the referral unless otherwise instructed by the originating agency. This is not a denial of a FOIA request; thus no appeal rights accrue to the requester.
(3) When a FOIA request is received for a record created by a Treasury bureau that includes information originated by another bureau of the Department of the Treasury or another agency, the record shall be referred to the originating agency or bureau for review and recommendation on disclosure. The agency or bureau shall re
spond to the referring office. The Treasury bureau shall not release any such records without prior consultation with the originating bureau or agency.
(4) In certain instances and at the discretion of the Departmental Offices, requests having impact on two or more bureaus of the Department may be coordinated by the Departmental Offices.
(d) Reasonable description of records. The request for records must describe the records in reasonably sufficient detail to enable employees who are familiar with the subject area of the request to locate the records without placing an unreasonable burden upon the Department. Whenever possible, a request should include specific information about each record sought, such as the date, title or name, author, recipients, and subject matter of the record. If the Department determines that the request does not reasonably describe the records sought, the requester shall be given an opportunity to provide additional information. Such opportunity may, when necessary, involve a discussion with knowledgeable Department of the Treasury personnel. The reasonable description requirement shall not be used by officers or employees of the Department of the Treasury to improperly withhold records from the public.
(e) Requests for expedited processing. (1) When a request for records includes a request for expedited processing, both the envelope and the request itself must be clearly marked, "Expedited Processing Requested."
(2) Records will be processed as soon as practicable when a requester asks for expedited processing in writing and is granted such expedited treatment by the Department. The requester must demonstrate a compelling need for expedited processing of the requested records. A compelling need is defined as follows:
(i) Failure to obtain the requested records on an expedited basis could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual. The requester shall fully explain the circumstances warranting such an expected threat so that the Department may make a reasoned