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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR Data is current as of September 18, 2014

Title 14Chapter VPart 1206 → Subpart C


Title 14: Aeronautics and Space
PART 1206—PROCEDURES FOR DISCLOSURE OF RECORDS UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT (FOIA)


Subpart C—Procedures


Contents
§1206.300   How to make a request for Agency records.
§1206.301   Describing records sought.
§1206.302   Fee agreements.
§1206.303   Format of records disclosed.
§1206.304   Expedited processing.
§1206.305   Responding to requests.
§1206.306   Granting a request.
§1206.307   Denying a request.
§1206.308   Referrals and consultations within NASA or other Federal Agencies.

§1206.300   How to make a request for Agency records.

(a) A requester submitting a request for records must include his/her name and mailing address, a description of the record(s) sought (see §1206.301), and must address fees or provide justification for a fee waiver (see §1206.302) as well as address the fee category in accordance with §1206.507. It is also helpful to provide a telephone number and email address in case the FOIA office needs to contact you regarding your request; however, this information is optional when submitting a written request. If a requester chooses to submit a request online via the NASA FOIA Web site, the required information must be completed. Do not include a social security number on any correspondence with the FOIA office.

(b) NASA does not have a central location for submitting FOIA requests and it does not maintain a central index or database of records in its possession. Instead, Agency records are decentralized and maintained by various Centers and offices throughout the country.

(c) NASA has not yet implemented a records management application for automated capture and control of e-records; therefore, official files are primarily paper files.

(d) A member of the public may request an Agency record by mail, facsimile (FAX), electronic-mail (email), or by submitting a written request in person to the FOIA office having responsibility over the record requested or to the NASA Headquarters (HQ) FOIA Office.

(e) When a requester is unable to determine the proper NASA FOIA Office to direct a request to, the requester may send the request to the NASA HQ FOIA Office, 300 E. Street SW., Washington, DC 20546-0001. The HQ FOIA Office will forward the request to the Center(s) that it determines to be most likely to maintain the records that are sought.

(1) It is in the interest of the requester to send the request to the Center FOIA Office they believe has responsibility over the records being sought. (See Appendix A for www.nasa.gov/foia for NASA FOIA Office locations and addresses.)

(2) A misdirected request may take up to ten (10) additional working (meaning all days except Saturdays, Sundays and all Federal legal holidays) days to reroute to the proper FOIA office.

(f) A requester who is making a request for records about himself or herself (a Privacy Act request) must comply with the verification of identity provisions set forth in 14 CFR 1212.202.

(g) Where a request pertains to a third party, a requester may receive greater access by submitting either a notarized authorization signed by the individual who is the subject of the record requested, or a declaration by that individual made in compliance with the requirements set forth in 28 U.S.C. 1746, authorizing disclosure of the records to the requester, or submit proof that the individual is deceased (e.g., a copy of a death certificate or a verifiable obituary).

(h) As an exercise of its administrative discretion, each Center FOIA office may require a requester to supply additional information if necessary, i.e., a notarized statement from the subject of the file, in order to verify that a particular individual has consented to a third party disclosure. Information will only be released on a case-by-case basis to third party requesters if they have independently provided authorization from the individual who is the subject of the request.

§1206.301   Describing records sought.

In view of the time limits under 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(6) for an initial determination on a request for an Agency record, a request must meet the following requirements:

(a) The request must be addressed to an appropriate FOIA office or otherwise be clearly identified in the letter as a request for an Agency record under the “Freedom of Information Act.”

(b) Requesters must describe the records sought in sufficient detail to enable Agency personnel who are familiar with the subject area of the request to identify and locate the record with a reasonable amount of effort. To the extent possible, requesters should include specific information that may assist a FOIA office in identifying the requested records, such as the date, title or name, author, recipient, subject matter of the record, case number, file designation, or reference number. In general, requesters should include as much detail as possible about the specific records or the types of records sought.

(c) If the requester fails to reasonably describe the records sought, the FOIA office shall inform the requester of what additional information is needed or why the request is deficient. The FOIA office will also notify the requester that it will not be able to comply with the FOIA request unless the additional information requested is provided within 20 working days from the date of the letter. If the additional information is not provided within that timeframe, the request will be closed without further notification.

(d) If after being asked to clarify a request, the requester provides additional information to the FOIA office but fails to provide sufficient details or information to allow the FOIA office to ascertain exactly what records are being requested and locate them, or in general to process the request, the FOIA office will notify the requester that the request has not been properly made and the request will be closed. The FOIA office will advise him/her that they may submit a new request for the information; however, the requester will need to provide more detailed information to allow processing of the request.

(e) NASA need not comply with a blanket or categorical request (such as “all matters relating to” a general subject) where it is not reasonably feasible to determine what record is sought.

(f) NASA will in good faith attempt to identify and locate the record(s) sought and will consult with the requester when necessary and appropriate for that purpose in accordance with these regulations.

(g) NASA is not required to create or compile records in response to a FOIA request.

§1206.302   Fee agreements.

(a) A request must explicitly state a willingness to pay all fees associated with processing the request, fees up to a specified amount, or a request for a fee waiver, if processing fees will likely exceed the statutory entitlements as defined in §1206.507(b) and (c).

(b) If the FOIA office determines that fees for processing the request will exceed the agreed upon amount or the statutory entitlements, the FOIA office will notify the requester that:

(1) He/she must provide assurance of payment for all anticipated fees or provide an advance payment if estimated fees are expected to exceed $250.00, or

(2) The FOIA office will not be able to fully comply with the FOIA request unless an assurance or advance payment as requested has been provided.

(3) He/she may wish to limit the scope of the request to reduce the processing fees.

(c) If the FOIA office does not receive a written response within 20 working days after requesting the information, it will presume the requester is no longer interested in the records requested and will close the file on the request without further notification.

(d) A commercial-use requester (as defined in§1206.507(c)(1)) must:

(1) State a willingness to pay all fess associated with processing a request; or

(2) State a willingness to pay fees to cover the costs of conducting an initial search for responsive records to determine a fee estimate.

(e) If a requester is only willing to pay a limited amount for processing a request and it is for more than one document, the requester must state the order in which he/she would like the request for records to be processed.

(f) If a requester is seeking a fee waiver, the request must include sufficient justification to substantiate a waiver. (See subpart E of this part for information on fee waivers.) Failure to provide sufficient justification will result in a denial of the fee waiver request.

(g) If a requester is seeking a fee waiver, he/she may also choose to state a willingness to pay fees in case the fee waiver request is denied in order to allow the FOIA office to begin processing the request while considering the fee waiver.

(h) If a fee is chargeable for search, review, duplication, or other costs incurred in connection with a request for an Agency record, the requester will be billed prior to releasing Agency documents. If the total amount of processing fees is under $50.00, the Agency will release the records when final processing is complete.

(1) If the exact amount of the fee chargeable is not known at the time of the request, the requester will be notified in the initial determination (or in a final determination in the case of an appeal) of the amount of fees chargeable.

(2) For circumstances in which advance payment of fees is required, the requester will be notified after the FOIA office has obtained an estimate of associated fees.

(i) The FOIA office will begin processing a request only after the request has been properly described in accordance with these regulations and fees have been resolved.

(j) If the requester is required to pay a fee and it is later determined on appeal that he/she was entitled to a full or partial fee waiver, a refund will be sent as appropriate.

(k) NASA may refuse to consider a waiver or reduction of fees for requesters (persons or organizations) from whom unpaid fees remain owed to the Agency for another information access request.

§1206.303   Format of records disclosed.

(a) The FOIA office will provide the records in the requested format if the records can readily be reproduced from the original file to that specific format.

(b) The FOIA office may charge direct costs associated with converting the records or files into the requested format if they are not maintained in that format. If the costs to convert the records exceed the amount the requester has agreed to pay, the FOIA office will notify the requester in writing. If the requester does not agree to pay the additional fees for converting the records, the records may not be provided in the requested format.

§1206.304   Expedited processing.

A requester may ask for expedited processing of a request. However, information to substantiate the request must be included in accordance with §1206.400, Criteria for Expedited Processing; otherwise, the request for expedited processing will be denied and processed in the simple or complex queue.

§1206.305   Responding to requests.

(a) Except in the instances described in paragraphs (e) and (f) of this section, the FOIA office that first receives a request for a record and maintains that record is the FOIA office responsible for responding to the request.

(b) In determining what records are responsive to a request, a FOIA office ordinarily will include only records in its possession as of the date that it begins its search. If any other date is used, the FOIA office shall inform the requester of that date.

(c) A record that is excluded from the requirements of the FOIA pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552(c)(1)-(3), shall not be considered responsive to a request.

(d) The Head of a Center, or designee, is authorized to grant or to deny any requests for records that are maintained by that Center.

(e) The FOIA office may refer a request to or consult with another Center FOIA office or Federal agency in accordance with §1206.308, if the FOIA office receives a request for records that are in its possession that were not created at that Center. If another Center within NASA or another Federal agency has substantial interest in or created the records, the request will either be referred or they will consult with that FOIA office/agency.

(f) If a request for an Agency record is received by a FOIA office not having responsibility of the record (for example, when a request is submitted to one NASA Center or Headquarters and another NASA Center has responsibility of the record), the FOIA office receiving the request shall promptly forward it to that FOIA office within 10 working days from the date of receipt. The receiving FOIA office shall acknowledge the request and provide the requester with a tracking number.

§1206.306   Granting a request.

(a) The FOIA office will not begin processing a request until all issues regarding scope and fees have been resolved.

(b) If fees are not expected to exceed the minimum threshold of $50.00, and the scope of the request is in accordance with §1206.301, the FOIA office will begin processing the request.

(c) If the FOIA office contacts the requester regarding fees or clarification and the requester has provided a response, the FOIA office will notify the requester in writing of the decision to either grant or deny the request.

§1206.307   Denying a request.

(a) If the FOIA office denies records in response to a request either in full or in part, it will advise the requester in writing that:

(1) The requested record(s) is exempt in full or in part; or

(2) Records do not exist, cannot be located, or are not in the Agency's possession; or

(3) A record is not readily reproducible in the form or format requested; or

(4) Denial is based on a procedural issue only and not access to the underlying records when it makes a decision that:

(i) A fee waiver or another fee-related issue will not be granted; or

(ii) Expedited processing will not be provided.

(b) The denial notification must include:

(1) The name, title, or position of the person(s) responsible for the denial;

(2) A brief statement of the reasons for the denial, including a reference to any FOIA exemption(s) applied by the FOIA office to withhold records in full or in part;

(3) An estimate of the volume of any records or information withheld, i.e., the number of pages or a reasonable form of estimation, unless such an estimate would harm an interest protected by the exemption(s) used to withhold the records or information;

(4) A statement that the denial may be appealed under Subpart G of this part and a description of the requirements set forth therein.

(c) If the requested records contain both exempt and non-exempt material, the FOIA office will:

(1) Segregate and release the non-exempt material unless the non-exempt material is so intertwined with the exempt material that disclosure of it would leave only meaningless words and phrases;

(2) Indicate on the released portion(s) of the records the amount of information redacted and the FOIA exemption(s) under which the redaction was made, unless doing so would harm an interest protected by the FOIA exemption used to withhold the information; and

(3) If technically feasible, place the exemption at the place of excision.

§1206.308   Referrals and consultations within NASA or other Federal Agencies.

(a) Referrals and consultations can occur within the Agency or outside the Agency.

(b) If a FOIA office (other than the Office of Inspector General) receives a request for records in its possession that another NASA FOIA office has responsibility over or is substantially concerned with, it will either:

(1) Consult with the other FOIA office before deciding whether to release or withhold the records; or

(2) Refer the request, along with the records, to that FOIA office for direct response.

(c) If the FOIA office that originally received the request refers all or part of the request to another FOIA office within the Agency for further processing, they will notify the requester of the partial referral and provide that FOIA contact information.

(d) If while responding to a request, the FOIA office locates records that originated with another Federal agency, it will generally refer the request and any responsive records to that other agency for a release determination and direct response.

(e) If the FOIA office refers all the records to another agency, it will document the referral and maintain a copy of the records that it refers; notify the requester of the referral in writing, unless that identification will itself disclose a sensitive, exempt fact; and will provide the contact information for the other agency and if known, the name of a contact at the other agency.

(f) If the FOIA office locates records that originated with another Federal agency while responding to a request, the office will make the release determination itself (after consulting with the originating agency) when:

(1) The record is of primary interest to NASA (for example, a record may be of primary interest to NASA if it was developed or prepared according to Agency regulations or directives, or in response to an Agency request); or

(2) NASA is in a better position than the originating agency to assess whether the record is exempt from disclosure; or

(3) The originating agency is not subject to the FOIA; or

(4) It is more efficient or practical depending on the circumstances.

(g) If the FOIA office receives a request for records that another Federal agency has classified under any applicable executive order concerning record classification, it must refer the request to that agency for response.

(h) If the FOIA office receives a request for records that are under the purview of another Federal agency, the office will return the request to the requester and may advise the requester to submit it directly to another agency. The FOIA office will then close the request.

(i) All consultations and referrals received by the Agency will be handled according to the date that the FOIA request initially was received by the first FOIA office.



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