View all text of Part 1820 [§ 1820.1 - § 1820.25]

§ 1820.4 - Timing of responses to requests.

(a) In general. OSC ordinarily will respond to FOIA requests according to their order of receipt. In determining which records are responsive to a request, OSC ordinarily will include only records in its possession as of the date on which it begins its search for them. If any other date is used, OSC will inform the requester of that date.

(b) Multitrack processing. (1) OSC may use two or more processing tracks by distinguishing between simple and more complex requests based on the amount of work and/or time needed to process the request.

(2) When using multitrack processing, OSC may provide requesters in its slower track(s) with an opportunity to limit the scope of their requests in order to qualify for faster processing within the specified limits of the faster track(s).

(c) Expedited processing. (1) Requests and appeals will be taken out of order and given expedited treatment whenever OSC has established to its satisfaction that:

(i) Failure to obtain requested records on an expedited basis could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual;

(ii) With respect to a request made by a person primarily engaged in disseminating information, an urgency exists to inform the public about an actual or alleged federal government activity; or

(iii) The requested records relate to an appeal for which the requester faces an imminent deadline for filing with the Merit Systems Protection Board or other administrative tribunal or a court of law, seeking personal relief pursuant to a complaint filed by the requester with OSC, or referred to OSC pursuant to title 38 of the U.S. Code. Expedited status granted under this provision will apply only to the following requested records: Letters sent to the complainant by OSC; and the official complaint form submitted to OSC by the complainant or the original referred complaint if referred to OSC pursuant to title 38 of the U.S. Code. All other requested records will be processed according to the order in which OSC received the request.

(2) A request for expedited processing must be made in writing and sent to OSC's FOIA Officer. Such a request will not be considered to have been received until it reaches the FOIA Officer.

(3) A requester who seeks expedited processing must submit a statement, certified to be true and correct to the best of that person's knowledge and belief, explaining in detail the basis for requesting expedited processing. For example, a requester within the category described in paragraph (c)(1)(ii) of this section, if not a full-time member of the news media, must establish that he or she is a person whose main professional activity or occupation is information dissemination, though it need not be his or her sole occupation. The formality of certification may be waived as a matter of OSC's administrative discretion.

(4) OSC shall decide whether to grant a request for expedited processing and notify the requester of its decision within 10 calendar days of the FOIA Officer's receipt of the request. If the request for expedited processing is granted, the request for records shall be processed as soon as practicable. If a request for expedited processing is denied, any administrative appeal of that decision shall be acted on expeditiously.

(d) Aggregated requests. OSC may aggregate multiple requests by the same requester, or by a group of requesters acting in concert, if it reasonably believes that such requests constitute a single request involving unusual circumstances, as defined by the FOIA, supporting an extension of time to respond, and the requests involve clearly related matters.

[81 FR 73017, Oct. 24, 2016]