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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR Data is current as of April 22, 2014

Title 49: Transportation

Subpart C—Availability of Reasonably Described Records Under the Freedom of Information Act

§7.11   Applicability.
§7.12   Administration of subpart.
§7.13   Records available.
§7.14   Requests for records.
§7.15   Contacts for records requested under the FOIA.
§7.16   Requests for records of concern to more than one government organization.
§7.17   Consultation with submitters of commercial and financial information.

§7.11   Applicability.

(a) This subpart implements 5 U.S.C 552(a)(3), and prescribes the regulations governing public inspection and copying of reasonably described records under FOIA.

(b) This subpart does not apply to:

(1) Records published in the Federal Register, opinions in the adjudication of cases, statements of policy and interpretations, and administrative staff manuals that have been published or made available under subpart B of this part.

(2) Records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes and covered by the disclosure exemption described in §7.13(c)(7) if—

(i) The investigation or proceeding involves a possible violation of criminal law; and

(ii) There is reason to believe that—

(A) The subject of the investigation or proceeding is not aware of its pendency, and

(B) Disclosure of the existence of the records could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings.

(3) Informant records maintained by a criminal law enforcement component of DOT under an informant's name or personal identifier, if requested by a third party according to the informant's name or personal identifier, unless the informant's status as an informant has been officially confirmed.

§7.12   Administration of subpart.

Authority to administer this subpart and to issue determinations with respect to initial requests is delegated as follows:

(a) To the General Counsel for the records of the Office of the Secretary other than the Office of Inspector General.

(b) To the Inspector General for records of the Office of Inspector General.

(c) To the Administrator of each DOT component, who may redelegate to officers of that administration the authority to administer this part in connection with defined groups of records. However, each Administrator may redelegate the duties under subpart D of this part to consider appeals of initial denials of requests for records only to his or her deputy or to not more than one other officer who reports directly to the Administrator and who is located at the headquarters of that DOT component.

§7.13   Records available.

(a) Policy. It is DOT policy to make its records available to the public to the greatest extent possible, in keeping with the spirit of FOIA. This includes providing reasonably segregable information from documents that contain information that may be withheld.

(b) Statutory disclosure requirement. FOIA requires that DOT, on a request from a member of the public submitted in accordance with this subpart, make requested records available for inspection and copying.

(c) Statutory exemptions. Exempted from FOIA's statutory disclosure requirement are matters that are:

(1)(i) Specifically authorized under criteria established by Executive Order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy, and

(ii) In fact properly classified pursuant to such Executive order;

(2) Related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency;

(3) Specifically exempted from mandatory disclosure by statute (other than the Privacy Act or the Government in the Sunshine Act), provided that such statute—

(i) Requires that the matters be withheld from the public in such a manner as to leave not any discretion on the issue, or

(ii) Establishes particular criteria for withholding or refers to particular criteria for withholding or refers to particular types of matters to be withheld;

(4) Trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential;

(5) Inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters that would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency;

(6) Personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;

(7) Records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of such law enforcement records or information—

(i) Could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings,

(ii) Would deprive a person of a right to a fair or an impartial adjudication,

(iii) Could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,

(iv) Could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source, including a State, local, Tribal, or foreign agency or authority or any private institution that furnished information on a confidential basis, and, in the case of a record or information compiled by a criminal law enforcement authority in the course of a criminal investigation, or by an agency conducting a lawful national security intelligence investigation, information furnished by a confidential source,

(v) Would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law, or

(vi) Could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual;

(8) Contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of an agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions; or

(9) Geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells.

(d) Deleted information. The amount of information deleted from frequently-requested electronic records that are available in a public reading room will be indicated on the released portion of the record, unless doing so would harm an interest protected by the exemption concerned. If technically feasible, the amount of information deleted will be indicated at the place in the record where the deletion is made.

§7.14   Requests for records.

(a) Each person desiring access to or a copy of a record covered by this subpart shall comply with the following provisions:

(1) A written request must be made for the record.

(2) Such request should indicate that it is being made under FOIA.

(3) The envelope in which a mailed request is sent should be prominently marked: “FOIA.”

(4) The request should be addressed to the appropriate office as set forth in §7.15.

(5) The request should state the format (e.g., paper, microfiche, computer diskette, etc.) in which the information is sought, if the requestor has a preference.

(b) If the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section are not met, treatment of the request will be at the discretion of the agency. The twenty-day limit for responding to requests, described in §7.31, will not start to run until the request has been identified, or would have been identified with the exercise of due diligence, by an employee of DOT as a request pursuant to FOIA and has been received by the office to which it should have been originally sent.

(c) Form of requests. (1) Each request should describe the particular record to the fullest extent possible. The request should describe the subject matter of the record, and, if known, indicate the date when it was made, the place where it was made, and the person or office that made it. If the description does not enable the office handling the request to identify or locate the record sought, that office will notify the requestor and, to the extent possible, indicate the additional data required.

(2) Each request shall—

(i) Specify the fee category (commercial use, news media, educational institution, noncommercial scientific institution, or other) in which the requestor claims the request to fall and the basis of this claim (see subpart F of this part for fees and fee waiver requirements),

(ii) State the maximum amount of fees that the requestor is willing to pay or include a request for a fee waiver, and

(iii) A request seeking a fee waiver shall, to the extent possible, address why the requestor believes that the criteria for fee waivers set out in §7.44(f) are met.

(3) Requesters are advised that the time for responding to requests set forth in subpart E will not begin to run—

(i) If a requestor has not sufficiently identified the fee category applicable to the request,

(ii) If a requestor has not stated a willingness to pay fees as high as anticipated by DOT,

(iii) If a fee waiver request is denied and the requestor has not included an alternative statement of willingness to pay fees as high as anticipated by DOT, or

(iv) If a fee waiver request does not address fee waiver criteria.

(d) Creation of records. A request may seek only records that are in existence at the time the request is received. A request may not seek records that come into existence after the date on which it is received and may not require that new records be created in response to the request by, for example, combining or compiling selected items from manual files, preparing a new computer program, or calculating proportions, percentages, frequency distributions, trends, or comparisons. In those instances where DOT determines that creating a new record will be less burdensome than disclosing large volumes of unassembled material, DOT may, in its discretion, agree to creation of a new record as an alternative to disclosing existing records. Records will be provided in the form or format sought by the requestor if the record is readily reproducible in the requested format.

(e) Search for records. (1) Each record made available under this subpart will be made available for inspection and copying during regular business hours at the place where it is located, or photocopying may be arranged with the copied materials being mailed to the requestor upon payment of the appropriate fee. Original records ordinarily will be copied except in this instance where, in DOT's judgment, copying would endanger the quality of the original or raise the reasonable possibility of irreparable harm to the record. In these instances, copying of the original would not be in the public interest. In any event, original records will not be released from DOT custody. Original records, regardless of format, may be returned to agency service upon provision of a copy of the record to the requestor, or, in the case of a denial, upon creation and retention of a copy of the original for purposes of FOIA processing.

(2) DOT will make a reasonable effort to search for requested records in electronic form or format, unless doing so would significantly interfere with operation of the affected automated information system.

(f) If a requested record is known not to exist in the files of the agency, or to have been destroyed or otherwise disposed of, the requestor will be so notified.

(g) Fees will be determined in accordance with subpart F of this part.

(h) Notwithstanding paragraphs (a) through (g) of this section, informational material, such as news releases, pamphlets, and other materials of that nature that are ordinarily made available to the public as a part of any information program of the Government will be available upon oral or written request. A fee will be not be charged for individual copies of that material so long as the material is in supply. In addition DOT will continue to respond, without charge, to routine oral or written inquiries that do not involve the furnishing of records.

§7.15   Contacts for records requested under the FOIA.

Each person desiring a record under this subpart should submit a request in writing (via paper, facsimile, or electronic mail) to the DOT component where the records are located:

(a) FOIA Offices at 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590:

(1) Office of the Secretary of Transportation, Room W94-122.

(2) Office of Inspector General, Room W73-407.

(3) Federal Highway Administration, Room E64-302.

(4) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Room W66-458.

(5) Federal Railroad Administration, Room W33-437.

(6) Federal Transit Administration, Room E42-315.

(7) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Room W41-311.

(8) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Room E26-109.

(9) Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Room E35-330.

(10) Maritime Administration, Room W24-233.

(b) Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue, S.W., Room 906A, Washington, DC 20591.

(c) Commandant (CG-00), Attn: Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard Stop 7000, 2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20593-7000

(d) Director, Office of Finance, Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, 180 Andrews Street, P.O. Box 520, Massena, New York 13662-0520.

(e) Federal Railroad Administration, 1120 Vermont Avenue NW, 7th Floor, Washington, DC. (Mailing address: 400 Seventh St., SW, Washington, DC 20590.)

(f) Transportation Security Administration, 301 Seventh Street, SW. (General Services Administration Regional Office Building), Room 3624, Washington, DC (Mailing address: 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590).

(g) Certain DOT components also maintain FOIA contacts at regional offices and at the offices of the Commandant and District Commanders of the United States Coast Guard. Additional information on the location of these offices can be obtained through the FOIA contact offices listed in this section.

(h) If the person making the request does not know where in DOT the record is located, he or she may make an inquiry to the Chief, FOIA Division, Office of the General Counsel (voice: 202.366.4542; facsimile: 202.366.8536).

(i) Requests for records under this part, and Freedom of Information Act inquiries generally, may be made by accessing the DOT Home Page on the Internet (www.dot.gov) and clicking on the Freedom of Information Act link (www.dot.gov/foia).

[Amdt. 1, 63 FR 38331, July 16, 1998, 67 FR 54746, Aug. 26, 2002; 73 FR 33328, June 12, 2008; 78 FR 60165, Sept. 30, 2013]

§7.16   Requests for records of concern to more than one government organization.

(a) If the release of a record covered by this subpart would be of concern to both DOT and another Federal agency, the determination as to release will be made by DOT only after consultation with the other interested agency.

(b) If the release of the record covered by this subpart would be of concern to both DOT and a State, local, or Tribal government, a territory or possession of the United States, or a foreign government, the determination as to release will be made by DOT only after consultation with the interested government.

(c) Alternatively, DOT may refer the request (or relevant portion thereof) for decision by a Federal agency that originated or is substantially concerned with the records, but only if that agency is subject to FOIA. Such referrals will be made expeditiously and the requestor notified in writing that a referral has been made.

§7.17   Consultation with submitters of commercial and financial information.

(a) If a request is received for information that has been designated by the submitter as confidential commercial information, or which DOT has some other reason to believe may contain information of the type described in §7.13(c)(4), the submitter of such information will, except as is provided in paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section, be notified expeditiously and asked to submit any written objections to release. At the same time, the requestor will be notified that notice and an opportunity to comment are being provided to the submitter. The submitter will, to the extent permitted by law, be afforded a reasonable period of time within which to provide a detailed statement of any such objections. The submitter's statement shall specify all grounds for withholding any of the information. The burden shall be on the submitter to identify all information for which exempt treatment is sought and to persuade the agency that the information should not be disclosed.

(b) The responsible DOT component will, to the extent permitted by law, consider carefully a submitter's objections and specific grounds for nondisclosure prior to determining whether to disclose business information. Whenever a decision is made to disclose such information over the objection of a submitter, the office responsible for the decision will forward to the submitter a written notice of intent to disclose that will, to the extent permitted by law, be forwarded to the submitter a reasonable number of days prior to the specified date upon which disclosure is intended. At the same time the submitter is notified, the requestor will be notified of the decision to disclose information. The written notice will include:

(1) A statement of the reasons for which the submitter's disclosure objections were not accepted;

(2) A description of the business information to be disclosed; and

(3) A specific disclosure date.

(c) The notice requirements of this section will not apply if:

(1) The office responsible for the decision determines that the information should not be disclosed;

(2) The information lawfully has been published or otherwise made available to the public; or

(3) Disclosure of the information is required by law (other than 5 U.S.C. 552).

(d) The procedures established in this section will not apply in the case of:

(1) Business information submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and addressed in 49 CFR Part 512.

(2) Information contained in a document to be filed or in oral testimony that is sought to be withheld pursuant to Rule 39 of the Rules of Practice in Aviation Economic Proceedings (14 CFR 302.39).

(e) Whenever a requestor brings suit seeking to compel disclosure of confidential commercial information, the responsible DOT component will promptly notify the submitter.

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