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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations
Title 13: Business Credit and Assistance
§500.107 Freedom of Information Act.
(a) Definitions. All terms used in this section which are defined in 5 U.S.C. 551 or 5 U.S.C. 552 shall have the same meaning in this section. In addition the following definitions apply to this section:
(1) FOIA, as used in this section, means the “Freedom of Information Act,” as amended, 5 U.S.C. 552.
(2) Commercial use request means 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.
(3) Direct costs mean those expenditures that the Board actually incurs in searching for, reviewing, and duplicating documents in response to a request made under paragraph (c) of this section. Direct costs include, for example, the labor costs of the employee performing the work (the basic rate of pay for the employee, plus 16 percent of that rate to cover benefits). Not included in direct costs are overhead expenses such as the costs of space and heating or lighting of the facility in which the records are kept.
(4) Duplication means the process of making a copy of a document in response to a request for disclosure of records or for inspection of original records that contain exempt material or that otherwise cannot be inspected directly. Among others, such copies may take the form of paper, microfilm, audiovisual materials, or machine-readable documentation (e.g., magnetic tape or disk).
(5) Educational institution means a preschool, a public or private elementary or secondary school, or an institution of undergraduate higher education, graduate higher education, professional education, or an institution of vocational education that operates a program of scholarly research.
(6) Noncommercial scientific institution refers to an institution that is not operated on a “commercial” basis (as that term is used in 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.
(7) News means information about current events or that would be of current interest to the public. Examples of news media entities include, but are not limited to, television or radio stations broadcasting to the public at large, and publishers of newspapers and other 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. “Freelance” journalists may be regarded as working for a news organization if they can demonstrate a solid basis for expecting publication through that organization, even though not actually employed by it.
(8) Representative of the news media means any person actively gathering news for an entity that is organized and operated to publish or broadcast news to the general public.
(9) Review means the process of examining documents, located in response to a request for access, to determine whether any portion of a document is exempt information. It includes doing all that is necessary to excise the documents and otherwise to prepare them for release. Review does not include time spent resolving general legal or policy issues regarding the application of exemptions.
(10) Search means the process of looking for material that is responsive to a request, including page-by-page or line-by-line identification within documents. Searches may be done manually or by computer.
(b) Records available for public inspection and copying—(1) Types of records made available. The information in this section is furnished for the guidance of the public and in compliance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. 552) (FOIA). This section sets forth the procedures the Board follows to make publicly available the materials specified in 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(2). These materials shall be made available for inspection and copying at the Board's Freedom of Information Office pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(2). Information routinely provided to the public as part of a regular Board activity (for example, press releases) may be provided to the public without following this section.
(2) Reading room procedures. Information available under this section is available for inspection and copying, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays, at the Freedom of Information Office of the Board, Oil and Gas Guarantee Loan Board, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C. 20230.
(3) Electronic records. Information available under this section that was created on or after November 1, 1996, shall also be available on the Board's website, found at www.doc.gov.
(c) Records available to the public on request—(1) Types of records made available. All records of the Board that are not available under paragraph (b) of this section shall be made available upon request, pursuant to the procedures in this section and the exceptions set forth in the FOIA. The Board's policy is to make discretionary disclosures of records or information exempt from disclosure under the FOIA whenever disclosure would not foreseeably harm an interest protected by a FOIA exemption, but this policy does not create any right enforceable in court.
(2) Procedures for requesting records. A request for records shall reasonably describe the records in a way that enables the Board's staff to identify and produce the records with reasonable effort and without unduly burdening or significantly interfering with any of the Board's operations. The request shall be submitted in writing to the Secretary of the Board, Oil and Gas Guarantee Loan Board, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C. 20230; or sent by facsimile to the Secretary of the Board. The request shall be clearly marked FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST.
(3) Contents of request. The request shall contain the following information:
(i) The name and address of the requester, and the telephone number at which the requester can be reached during normal business hours;
(ii) Whether the requested information is intended for commercial use, or whether the requester represents an educational or noncommercial scientific institution, or news media;
(iii) A statement agreeing to pay the applicable fees, or a statement identifying any fee limitation desired, or a request for a waiver or reduction of fees that satisfies paragraph (f) of this section.
(d) Processing requests—(1) Priority of responses. The date of receipt for any request, including one that is addressed incorrectly or that is referred to the Board by another agency, is the date the Secretary of the Board actually receives the request. The Secretary of the Board shall normally process requests in the order they are received. However, in the Secretary of the Board's discretion, the Board may use two or more processing tracks by distinguishing between simple and more complex requests based on the number of pages involved, or some other measure of the amount of work and/or time needed to process the request, and whether the request qualifies for expedited processing as described in paragraph (d)(2) of this section. When using multitrack processing, the Secretary of the Board may provide requesters in the slower track(s) with an opportunity to limit the scope of their requests in order to qualify for faster processing. The Secretary of the Board shall contact the requester by telephone or by letter, whichever is most efficient in each case.
(2) Expedited processing. (i) A person may request expedited access to records by submitting a statement, certified to be true and correct to the best of that person's knowledge and belief, that demonstrates a compelling need for the records, as defined in 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(6)(E)(v).
(ii) The Secretary of the Board shall notify a requester of the determination whether to grant or deny a request for expedited processing within ten working days of receipt of the request. If the Secretary of the Board grants the request for expedited processing, the Board shall process the request for access to information as soon as practicable. If the Secretary of the Board denies a request for expedited processing, the requester may file an appeal pursuant to the procedures set forth in paragraph (e) of this section, and the Board shall respond to the appeal within twenty days after the appeal was received by the Board.
(3) Time limits. The time for response to requests shall be 20 working days, except:
(i) In the case of expedited treatment under paragraph (d)(2) of this section;
(ii) Where the running of such time is suspended for payment of fees pursuant to paragraph (f)(2)(ii) of this section;
(iii) Where the estimated charge is less than $250, and the requester does not guarantee payment pursuant to paragraph (f)(2)(i) of this section; or
(iv) In unusual circumstances, as defined in 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(6)(B)(iii), the time limit may be extended for a period of time not to exceed 10 working days as provided by written notice to the requester, setting forth the reasons for the extension and the date on which a determination is expected to be dispatched; or such alternative time period as mutually agreed to by the Secretary of the Board and the requester when the Secretary of the Board notifies the requester that the request cannot be processed in the specified time limit.
(4) Response to request. In response to a request that satisfies paragraph (c) of this paragraph, an appropriate search shall be conducted of records in the custody and control of the Board on the date of receipt of the request, and a review made of any responsive information located. The Secretary of the Board shall notify the requester of:
(i) The Secretary of the Board's determination of the request and the reasons therefor;
(ii) The information withheld, and the basis for withholding; and
(iii) The right to appeal any denial or partial denial, pursuant to paragraph (e) of this section.
(5) Referral to another agency. To the extent a request covers documents that were created by, obtained from, classified by, or is in the primary interest of another agency, the Secretary of the Board may refer the request to that agency for a direct response by that agency and inform the requester promptly of the referral. The Secretary of the Board shall consult with another Federal agency before responding to a requester if the Board receives a request for a record in which:
(i) Another Federal agency subject to the FOIA has a significant interest, but not the primary interest; or
(ii) Another Federal agency not subject to the FOIA has the primary interest or a significant interest. Ordinarily, the agency that originated a record will be presumed to have the primary interest in it.
(6) Providing responsive records. (i) A copy of records or portions of records responsive to the request shall be sent to the requester by regular U.S. mail to the address indicated in the request, unless the requester elects to take delivery of the documents at the Board's Freedom of Information Office or makes other acceptable arrangements, or the Secretary of the Board deems it appropriate to send the documents by another means. The Secretary of the Board shall provide a copy of the record in any form or format requested if the record is readily reproducible in that form or format, but the Secretary of the Board need not provide more than one copy of any record to a requester.
(ii) The Secretary of the Board shall provide any reasonably segregable portion of a record that is responsive to the request after deleting those portions that are exempt under the FOIA or this section.
(iii) Except where disclosure is expressly prohibited by statute, regulation, or order, the Secretary of the Board may authorize the release of records that are exempt from mandatory disclosure whenever the Board or designated Board members determine that there would be no foreseeable harm in such disclosure.
(iv) The Board is not required in response to the request to create records or otherwise to prepare new records.
(7) Prohibition against disclosure. Except as provided in this part, no officer, employee, or agent of the Board shall disclose or permit the disclosure of any unpublished information of the Board to any person (other than Board officers, employees, or agents properly entitled to such information for the performance of official duties), unless required by law.
(e) Appeals. (1) Any person denied access to Board records requested under paragraph (c) of this section, denied expedited processing under paragraph (d) of this section, or denied a waiver of fees under paragraph (f) of this section may file a written appeal within 30 calendar days after the date of such denial with the Board. The written appeal shall prominently display the phrase FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT APPEAL on the first page, and shall be addressed to the General Counsel of the Board, Oil and Gas Guaranteed Loan Board, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C. 20230; or sent by facsimile to the General Counsel of the Board. The appeal shall include a copy of the original request, the initial denial, if any, and a statement of the reasons why the requested records should be made available and why the initial denial was in error.
(2) The General Counsel of the Board shall make a determination regarding any appeal within 20 working days of actual receipt of the appeal, and the determination letter shall notify the appealing party of the right to seek judicial review in event of denial.
(f) Fee schedules; waiver of fees—(1) Fee schedule. The fees applicable to a request for records pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section are set forth in the uniform fee schedule at the end of this paragraph (b).
(i) Search. (A) Search fees shall be charged for all requests—other than requests made by educational institutions, noncommercial scientific institutions, or representatives of the news media—subject to the limitations of paragraph (f)(1)(iv) of this section. The Secretary of the Board shall charge for time spent searching even if no responsive record is located or if the Secretary of the Board withholds the record(s) located as entirely exempt from disclosure. Search fees shall be the direct costs of conducting the search by the involved employees.
(B) For computer searches of records, requesters will be charged the direct costs of conducting the search, although certain requesters (as provided in paragraph (f)(3) of this section) will be charged no search fee and certain other requesters (as provided in paragraph (f)(3)) are entitled to the cost equivalent of two hours of manual search time without charge. These direct costs include the costs, attributable to the search, of operating a central processing unit and operator/programmer salary.
(ii) Duplication. Duplication fees will be charged to all requesters, subject to the limitations of paragraph (f)(1)(iv) of this section. For a paper photocopy of a record (no more than one copy of which need be supplied), the fee shall be 15 cents per page. For copies produced by computer, such as tapes or printouts, the Secretary of the Board shall charge the direct costs, including operator time, of producing the copy. For other forms of duplication, the Secretary of the Board will charge the direct costs of that duplication.
(iii) Review. Review fees shall be charged to requesters who make a commercial use request. Review fees shall be charged only for the initial record review—the review done when the Secretary of the Board determines whether an exemption applies to a particular record at the initial request level. No charge will be made for review at the administrative appeal level for an exemption already applied. However, records withheld under an exemption that is subsequently determined not to apply may be reviewed again to determine whether any other exemption not previously considered applies, and the costs of that review are chargeable. Review fees shall be the direct costs of conducting the review by the involved employees.
(iv) Limitations on charging fees. (A) No search fee will be charged for requests by educational institutions, noncommercial scientific institutions, or representatives of the news media.
(B) No search fee or review fee will be charged for a quarter-hour period unless more than half of that period is required for search or review.
(C) Whenever a total fee calculated under this paragraph is $25 or less for any request, no fee will be charged.
(D) For requesters other than those seeking records for a commercial use, no fee will be charged unless the cost of search in excess of two hours plus the cost of duplication in excess of 100 pages totals more than $25.
(2) Payment procedures. All persons requesting records pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section shall pay the applicable fees before the Secretary of the Board sends copies of the requested records, unless a fee waiver has been granted pursuant to paragraph (f)(6) of this section. Requesters must pay fees by check or money order made payable to the Treasury of the United States.
(i) Advance notification of fees. If the estimated charges are likely to exceed $25, the Secretary of the Board shall notify the requester of the estimated amount, unless the requester has indicated a willingness to pay fees as high as those anticipated. Upon receipt of such notice, the requester may confer with the Secretary of the Board to reformulate the request to lower the costs. The processing of the request shall be suspended until the requester provides the Secretary of the Board with a written guarantee that payment will be made upon completion of the processing.
(ii) Advance payment. The Secretary of the Board shall require advance payment of any fee estimated to exceed $250. The Secretary of the Board shall also require full payment in advance where a requester has previously failed to pay a fee in a timely fashion. If an advance payment of an estimated fee exceeds the actual total fee by $1 or more, the difference shall be refunded to the requester. The time period for responding to requests under paragraph (d)(4) of this section, and the processing of the request shall be suspended until the Secretary of the Board receives the required payment.
(iii) Late charges. The Secretary of the Board may assess interest charges when fee payment is not made within 30 days of the date on which the billing was sent. Assessment of such interest will commence on the 31st day following the day on which the billing was sent. Interest is at the rate prescribed in 31 U.S.C. 3717.
(3) Categories of uses. The fees assessed depend upon the fee category. In determining which category is appropriate, the Secretary of the Board shall look to the identity of the requester and the intended use set forth in the request for records. Where a requester's description of the use is insufficient to make a determination, the Secretary of the Board may seek additional clarification before categorizing the request.
(i) Commercial use requester. The fees for search, duplication, and review apply when records are requested for commercial use.
(ii) Educational, non-commercial scientific institutions, or representatives of the news media requesters. The fees for duplication apply when records are not sought for commercial use, and the requester is a representative of the news media or an educational or noncommercial scientific institution, whose purpose is scholarly or scientific research. The first 100 pages of duplication, however, will be provided free.
(iii) All other requesters. For all other requests, the fees for search and duplication apply. The first two hours of search time and the first 100 pages of duplication, however, will be provided free.
(4) Nonproductive search. Fees for search may be charged even if no responsive documents are found. Fees for search and review may be charged even if the request is denied.
(5) Aggregated requests. A requester may not file multiple requests at the same time, solely in order to avoid payment of fees. If the Secretary of the Board reasonably believes that a requester is separating a request into a series of requests for the purpose of evading the assessment of fees or that several requesters appear to be acting together to submit multiple requests solely in order to avoid payment of fees, the Secretary of the Board may aggregate such requests and charge accordingly. It is considered reasonable for the Secretary of the Board to presume that multiple requests by one requester on the same topic made within a 30-day period have been made to avoid fees.
(6) Waiver or reduction of fees. A request for a waiver or reduction of the fees, and the justification for the waiver, shall be included with the request for records to which it pertains. If a waiver is requested and the requester has not indicated in writing an agreement to pay the applicable fees if the waiver request is denied, the time for response to the request for documents, as set forth in paragraph (4)(d) of this section, shall not begin until a determination has been made on the request for a waiver or reduction of fees.
(i) Standards for determining waiver or reduction. The Secretary of the Board may grant a waiver or reduction of fees where it is determined both that disclosure of the information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operation or activities of the government, and that the disclosure of information is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester. In making this determination, the following factors shall be considered:
(A) Whether the subject of the records concerns the operations or activities of the government;
(B) Whether disclosure of the information is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of government operations or activities;
(C) Whether the requester has the intention and ability to disseminate the information to the public;
(D) Whether the information is already in the public domain;
(E) Whether the requester has a commercial interest that would be furthered by the disclosure; and, if so,
(F) Whether the magnitude of the identified commercial interest of the requester is sufficiently large, in comparison with the public interest in disclosure, that disclosure is primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.
(ii) Contents of request for waiver. A request for a waiver or reduction of fees shall include a clear statement of how the request satisfies the criteria set forth in paragraph (f)(6)(i) of this section.
(iii) Burden of proof. The burden shall be on the requester to present evidence or information in support of a request for a waiver or reduction of fees.
(iv) Determination by Secretary of the Board. The Secretary of the Board shall make a determination on the request for a waiver or reduction of fees and shall notify the requester accordingly. A denial may be appealed to the Board in accordance with paragraph (e) of this section.
(7) Uniform fee schedule.
(g) Request for confidential treatment of business information—(1) Submission of request. Any submitter of information to the Board who desires confidential treatment of business information pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(4) shall file a request for confidential treatment with the Board at the time the information is submitted or a reasonable time after submission.
(2) Form of request. Each request for confidential treatment of business information shall state in reasonable detail the facts supporting the commercial or financial nature of the business information and the legal justification under which the business information should be protected. Conclusory statements that release of the information would cause competitive harm generally will not be considered sufficient to justify confidential treatment.
(3) Designation and separation of confidential material. All information considered confidential by a submitter shall be clearly designated “PROPRIETARY” or “BUSINESS CONFIDENTIAL” in the submission and separated from information for which confidential treatment is not requested. Failure to segregate confidential commercial or financial information from other material may result in release of the nonsegregated material to the public without notice to the submitter.
(h) Request for access to confidential commercial or financial information—(1) Request for confidential commercial or financial information. A request by a submitter for confidential treatment of any business information shall be considered in connection with a request for access to that information.
(2) Notice to the submitter. (i) The Secretary of the Board shall notify a submitter who requested confidential treatment of information pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(4), of the request for access.
(ii) Absent a request for confidential treatment, the Secretary of the Board may notify a submitter of a request for access to submitter's business information if the Secretary of the Board reasonably believes that disclosure of the information may cause substantial competitive harm to the submitter.
(iii) The notice given to the submitter by mail, return receipt requested, shall be given as soon as practicable after receipt of the request for access, and shall describe the request and provide the submitter seven working days from the date of notice, to submit written objections to disclosure of the information. Such statement shall specify all grounds for withholding any of the information and shall demonstrate why the information which is considered to be commercial or financial information, and that the information is a trade secret, is privileged or confidential, or that its disclosure is likely to cause substantial competitive harm to the submitter. If the submitter fails to respond to the notice within the time specified, the submitter will be considered to have no objection to the release of the information. Information a submitter provides under this paragraph may itself be subject to disclosure under the FOIA.
(3) Exceptions to notice to submitter. Notice to the submitter need not be given if:
(i) The Secretary of the Board determines that the request for access should be denied;
(ii) The requested information lawfully has been made available to the public;
(iii) Disclosure of the information is required by law (other than 5 U.S.C. 552); or
(iv) The submitter's claim of confidentiality under 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(4) appears obviously frivolous or has already been denied by the Secretary of the Board, except that in this last instance the Secretary of the Board shall give the submitter written notice of the determination to disclose the information at least seven working days prior to disclosure.
(4) Notice to requester. At the same time the Secretary of the Board notifies the submitter, the Secretary of the Board also shall notify the requester that the request is subject to the provisions of this section.
(5) Determination by Secretary of the Board. The Secretary of the Board's determination whether or not to disclose any information for which confidential treatment has been requested pursuant to this section shall be communicated to the submitter and the requester immediately. If the Secretary of the Board determines to disclose the business information over the objection of a submitter, the Secretary of the Board shall give the submitter written notice via mail, return receipt requested, or similar means, which shall include:
(i) A statement of reason(s) why the submitter's objections to disclosure were not sustained;
(ii) A description of the business information to be disclosed; and
(iii) A statement that the component intends to disclose the information seven working days from the date the submitter receives the notice.
(6) Notice of lawsuit. The Secretary of the Board shall promptly notify any submitter of information covered by this section of the filing of any suit against the Board to compel disclosure of such information, and shall promptly notify a requester of any suit filed against the Board to enjoin the disclosure of requested documents.