§ 7.34 - When and how are time limits applicable to DOT extended?
(a) In unusual circumstances as specified in this section, DOT may extend the time limits prescribed in §§ 7.31 and 7.33 by written notice to the person making the request or appeal, setting forth the reasons for the extension and the date on which a determination is expected to be issued. Such notice may not specify a date that would result in a cumulative extension of more than ten Federal working days without providing the requester an opportunity to modify the request as noted in this section. As used in this paragraph, “unusual circumstances” means, but only to the extent reasonably necessary to the proper processing of the particular request:
(1) The need to search for and collect the requested records from field facilities or other establishments that are separate from the office processing the request;
(2) The need to search for, collect, and appropriately examine a voluminous amount of separate and distinct records that are demanded in a single request; and/or
(3) The need for consultation, which will be conducted with all practicable speed, with any other agency having a substantial interest in the determination of the request or among two or more DOT components having substantial interest therein.
(b) When the extension is for more than ten Federal working days, the written notice provides the requester with an opportunity to either modify the request (e.g., by narrowing the record types or date ranges) so that it may be processed within the extended time limit, or arrange an alternative time period with the DOT component for processing the request (e.g., by prioritizing portions of the request). The written notice also will notify the requester of the right to seek dispute resolution services from the Office of Government Information Services.
(c) The DOT component may inform the requester, at any time, of exceptional circumstances that apply to the processing of the request or appeal (e.g., if the component is reducing a backlog of requests or appeals in addition to processing current requests, or is experiencing an unexpected deluge of requests or appeals), as provided in 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(6)(C).
(d) When a DOT component reasonably believes that multiple requests submitted by a requester, or by a group of requesters acting in concert, constitute a single request that would otherwise involve unusual circumstances, and the requests involve clearly related matters, DOT may aggregate the requests for the purposes of fees and processing activities, which may result in an extension of the processing time. Multiple requests involving unrelated matters are not aggregated.