(a) In general. TVA ordinarily will respond to requests according to their order of receipt and placement in an appropriate processing track as follows.
(b) Multitrack processing. TVA has established three tracks for handling requests and the track to which a request is assigned will depend on the nature of the request and the estimated processing time. Among the factors TVA may consider are the number of records requested, the number of pages involved in processing the request and the need for consultations or referrals. TVA will also designate a specific track for requests that are granted expedited processing, in accordance with the standards set forth in paragraph (e) of this section. TVA will advise requesters of the track into which their request falls and, when appropriate, will offer the requesters an opportunity to narrow or modify their request so that it can be placed in a different processing track.
(1) Track 1. Requests that can be answered with readily available records or information. These are the fastest to process. These requests ordinarily will be responded to within 20 working days of receipt of a proper request by the FOIA Officer. The 20 working day time limit provided in this paragraph may be extended by TVA for unusual circumstances, as defined in paragraph (c) of this section, upon written notice to the person requesting the records.
(2) Track 2. Requests where we need records or information from other offices throughout TVA, where we must consult with other Government agencies, or when we must process a submitter notice as described in § 1301.8(d), but we do not expect that the decision on disclosure will be as time consuming as for requests in Track 3.
(3) Track 3. Requests which require a decision or input from another office or agency, extensive submitter notifications because of the presence of Business Information as defined in § 1301.8(b)(1), and a considerable amount of time will be needed for that, or the request is complicated or involves a large number of records. Usually, these requests will take the longest to process.
(c) Unusual circumstances. Whenever the statutory time limit for processing a request cannot be met because of “unusual circumstances,” and TVA extends the time limit on that basis, TVA will, before expiration of the 20-day period to respond, notify the requester in writing of the unusual circumstances involved and of the date by which TVA estimates processing of the request will be completed. Where the extension exceeds 10 working days, TVA will, as described by the FOIA, provide the requester with an opportunity to modify the request or arrange an alternative time period for processing the original or modified request. TVA will make available its FOIA Officer or its FOIA Public Liaison for this purpose. A list of agency FOIA Public Liaisons is available at https://www.foia.gov/report-makerequest.html. TVA will also alert requesters to the availability of the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) to provide dispute resolution services. As used in this paragraph, “unusual circumstances” means, but only to the extent reasonable necessary to the proper processing of the particular requests:
(1) The need to search for and collect the requested records from field facilities or other establishments that are separate from the office processing the request;
(2) The need to search for, collect, and appropriately examine a voluminous amount of separate and distinct records which are demanded in a single request; or
(3) The need for consultation, which shall be conducted with all practicable speed, with another agency having a substantial interest in the determination of the request or among two or more components of the agency having substantial subject-matter interest therein.
(d) Aggregating requests. To satisfy unusual circumstances under the FOIA, TVA may aggregate requests in cases where it reasonably appears that multiple requests, submitted either by a requester or by a group of requesters acting in concert, constitute a single request that would otherwise involve unusual circumstances. TVA cannot aggregate multiple requests that involve unrelated matters.
(e) Expedited processing.
(1) TVA will process requests and appeals on an expedited basis whenever it is determined that they involve:
(i) Circumstances in which the lack of expedited processing could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual;
(ii) An urgency to inform the public about an actual or alleged Federal Government activity, if made by a person who is primarily engaged in disseminating information;
(iii) The loss of substantial due process rights.
(2) A request for expedited processing may be made at any time. For a prompt determination, requests based on paragraphs (e)(1)(i) and (ii) of this section should be submitted to the TVA FOIA Officer. Requests based on paragraph (e)(1)(iii) of this section should be submitted in accordance with the agency's requirements as described in § 1301.3. When making a request for expedited processing of an administrative appeal, the request should be submitted to the TVA Chief FOIA Officer and Appeals Official.
(3) A requester who seeks expedited processing must submit a statement, certified to be true and correct, explaining in detail the basis for making the request for expedited processing. For example, under paragraph (e)(1)(ii) of this section, a requester who is not a full-time member of the news media must establish that the requester is a person whose primary professional activity or occupation is information dissemination, though it need not be the requester's sole occupation. Such a requester also must establish a particular urgency to inform the public about the government activity involved in the request - one that extends beyond the public's right to know about government activity generally. The existence of numerous articles published on a given subject can be helpful in establishing the requirement that there be an “urgency to inform” the public on the topic. As a matter of administrative discretion, TVA may waive the formal certification requirement.
(4) TVA will notify the requester within 10 calendar days of the receipt of a request for expedited processing of its decision whether to grant or deny expedited processing. If expedited processing is granted, the request must be given priority, placed in the processing track for expedited requests, and must be processed as soon as practicable. If a request for expedited processing is denied, the agency must act on any appeal of that decision expeditiously.