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e-CFR data is current as of August 13, 2020

Title 34Subtitle APart 5Subpart D → §5.32


Title 34: Education
PART 5—AVAILABILITY OF INFORMATION TO THE PUBLIC
Subpart D—Fees


§5.32   Assessment of fees.

(a) Fees. In responding to FOIA requests, the Department charges the following fees (in accordance with the Office of Management and Budget's “Uniform FOIA Fee Schedule and Guidelines,” 52 FR 10012 (March 27, 1987)), unless it has granted a waiver or reduction of fees under §5.33 and subject to the limitations set forth in paragraph (b) of this section:

(1) Search. The Department charges search fees, subject to the limitations of paragraph (b) of this section. Search time includes time spent searching, regardless of whether the search results in the location of responsive agency records and, if so, whether such agency records are released to the requester under the Act. The requester will be charged the direct costs, as defined in §5.31(b), of the search. In the case of computer searches for agency records, the Department charges the requester for the direct cost of conducting the search, subject to the limitations set forth in paragraph (b) of this section.

(2) Review. (i) The Department charges fees for initial agency record review at the same rate as for searches, subject to the limitations set forth in paragraph (b) of this section.

(ii) No fees are charged for review at the administrative appeal level except in connection with—

(A) The review of agency records other than agency records identified as responsive to the FOIA request in the initial decision; and

(B) The Department's decision regarding whether to assert that an exemption exists under the Act that was not cited in the decision on the initial FOIA request.

(iii) Review fees are not assessed for FOIA requests other than those made for a “commercial use,” as the term is defined in §5.31(a).

(3) Duplication. The Department charges duplication fees at the rate of $0.20 per page for paper photocopies of agency records, $3.00 per CD for documents recorded on CD, and at the direct cost for duplication for electronic copies and other forms of duplication, subject to the limitations of paragraph (b) of this section.

(b) Limitations on fees.

(1) Fees are limited to charges for document duplication when agency records are not sought for commercial use and the request is made by—

(i) An educational or noncommercial scientific institution, whose purpose is scholarly or scientific research; or

(ii) A representative of the news media.

(2) For FOIA requests other than commercial use FOIA requests, the Department provides the first 100 pages of agency records released (or the cost equivalent) and the first two hours of search (or the cost equivalent) without charge, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(4)(A)(iv)(II).

(3) Whenever the Department calculates that the fees assessable for a FOIA request under paragraph (a) of this section total $25.00 or less, the Department processes the FOIA request without charge to the requester.

(4) If the Department has failed to comply with any time limit in 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(4)(A)(viii)(I), the Department may not assess search fees, except as otherwise provided in this paragraph. If the Department has determined that unusual circumstances (as described in §5.21(e)) apply, it may assess search fees (or, for requesters with preferred fee status, it may assess duplication fees) if the Department gives the requester timely written notice under §5.21(e) and responds to the FOIA request within 10 additional working days. If unusual circumstances apply and more than 5,000 pages are necessary to respond to the request, the Department may assess search fees (or, for requesters with preferred fee status, duplication fees) if the Department gives the requester timely written notice under §5.21(e) and the Department discussed with the requester via written mail, electronic mail, or telephone (or made not less than three good-faith attempts to do so) how the requester could effectively limit the scope of the request.

(c) Notice of anticipated fees in excess of $25. When the Department estimates or determines that the fees for processing a FOIA request will total more than $25 and the requester has not stated a willingness to pay such fees, the Department notifies the requester of the anticipated amount of fees before processing the FOIA request. If the Department can readily anticipate fees for processing only a portion of a request, the Department advises the requester that the anticipated fee is for processing only a portion of the request. When the Department has notified a requester of anticipated fees greater than $25, the Department does not further process the request until the requester agrees in writing to pay the anticipated total fee.

(d) Charges for other services. When the Department chooses as a matter of administrative discretion to provide a special service, such as certification of agency records, it charges the requester the direct cost of providing the service.

(e) Charging interest. The Department charges interest on any unpaid bill assessed at the rate provided in 31 U.S.C. 3717. In charging interest, the Department follows the provisions of the Debt Collection Act of 1982, as amended (Pub. L. 97-365), and its administrative procedures, including the use of consumer reporting agencies, collection agencies, and offset.

(f) Aggregating FOIA requests. When the Department reasonably believes that a requester, or a group of requesters acting together, is attempting to divide a FOIA request into a series of FOIA requests for the purpose of avoiding or reducing otherwise applicable fees, the Department may aggregate such FOIA requests for the purpose of assessing fees. The Department does not aggregate multiple FOIA requests involving unrelated matters.

(g) Advance payments.

(1) For FOIA requests other than those described in paragraphs (g)(2) and (g)(3) of this section, the Department does not require the requester to pay fees in advance.

(2) Where the Department estimates or determines that fees for processing a FOIA request will total more than $250, it may require the requester to pay the fees in advance, except where the Department receives a satisfactory assurance of full payment from a requester with a history of prompt payment of FOIA fees.

(3) The Department may require a requester who has previously failed to pay a properly assessed FOIA fee within 30 calendar days of the billing date to pay in advance the full amount of estimated or actual fees before it further processes a new or pending FOIA request from that requester.

(4) When the Department requires advance payment of estimated or assessed fees, it does not consider the FOIA request received and does not further process the FOIA request until payment is received.

(h) Tolling. When necessary for the Department to clarify issues regarding fee assessment with the FOIA requester, the time limit for responding to the FOIA request is tolled until the Department resolves such issues with the requester.

(i) Other statutory requirements. The fee schedule of this section does not apply to fees charged under any statute that specifically requires an agency to set and collect fees for producing particular types of agency records.

(Authority: 5 U.S.C. 552(a), 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(4)(A), 20 U.S.C. 3474)

[75 FR 33510, June 14, 2010, as amended at 84 FR 67868, Dec. 12, 2019]

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