(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, an hourly fee shall be charged for recovery of the full, allowable direct costs of searching for and reviewing records requested under § 0.460 or § 0.461, unless such fees are reduced or waived pursuant to § 0.470. The fee is based on the pay grade level of the FCC's employee(s) who conduct(s) the search or review, or the actual hourly rate of FCC contractors or other non-FCC personnel who conduct a search.
The fees for FCC employees will be modified periodically to correspond with modifications in the rate of pay approved by Congress and any such modifications will be announced by public notice and will be posted on the Commission's Web site, http://www.fcc.gov/foia/#feeschedule.
(2) The fees specified in paragraph (a)(1) of this section are computed at Step 5 of each grade level based on the General Schedule or the hourly rate of non-FCC personnel, including in addition twenty percent for personnel benefits. Search and review fees will be assessed in1/4 hour increments.
(b) Search fees may be assessed for time spent searching, even if the Commission fails to locate responsive records or if any records located are determined to be exempt from disclosure.
(c) The Commission shall charge only for the initial review, i.e., the review undertaken initially when the Commission analyzes the applicability of a specific exemption to a particular record. The Commission shall not charge for review at the appeal level of an exemption already applied. However, records or portions of records withheld in full under an exemption that is subsequently determined not to apply may be reviewed again to determine the applicability of other exemptions not previously considered. The costs of such a subsequent review, under these circumstances, are properly assessable.
(d) The fee charged will not exceed an amount based on the time typically required to locate records of the kind requested.
(1) If the Commission estimates that search charges are likely to exceed the greater of $25 or the amount which the requester indicated he/she is prepared to pay, then it shall notify the requester of the estimated amount of fees. Such a notice shall offer the requester the opportunity to confer with Commission personnel with the object of revising or clarifying the request. See § 0.465(c)(2) and § 0.470(d).
(2) The time for processing a request for inspection shall be tolled while conferring with the requester about his or her willingness to pay the fees required to process the request. See § 0.461(e).
(f) When the search has been completed, the custodian of the records will give notice of the charges incurred to the person who made the request.
(g) The fee shall be paid to the Financial Management Division, Office of Managing Director, or as otherwise directed by the Commission.
[82 FR 4195, Jan. 13, 2017]