(a) DOT imposes fees for services that DOT performs for the public under subparts B and C of this part. Fees apply to all required and special services performed by DOT employees, including employees of non-appropriated fund activities, and contractors, if utilized.
(b) DOT may assess a fee for time spent searching for records requested under subpart C even if the search fails to locate records or the records located are determined to be exempt from disclosure. In addition, if records are requested for commercial use, DOT may assess a fee for time spent reviewing any responsive records located to determine whether they are exempt from disclosure.
(c) When a request is made under subpart C by a first-party requester and DOT processes the request under both FOIA and the Privacy Act, DOT determines the fees for records in DOT Privacy Act systems of record in accordance with the Privacy Act (as implemented by DOT regulations at 49 CFR part 10) rather than the FOIA.
(e) As a special service, DOT may certify copies of records made available under subpart B or released under subpart C, upon request and payment of the applicable fee: with the DOT seal (where authorized) - US $10; or true copy, without seal - US $5. Certified copies can be requested by contacting the applicable FOIA Requester Service Center (see § 7.27) or the DOT Dockets Office identified in § 7.12(b)(1).
(f) DOT makes transcripts of hearings or oral arguments available for inspection only. If transcripts are prepared by a nongovernmental contractor and the contract permits DOT to handle the reproduction of further copies, DOT assesses duplication fees as set forth in § 7.42(d). If the contract for transcription services reserves the sales privilege to the reporting service, any duplicate copies must be purchased directly from the reporting service.
(g) In the interest of making documents of general interest publicly available at as low a cost as possible, DOT arranges alternative sources whenever possible. In appropriate instances, material that is published and offered for sale may be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402-0001; U.S. Department of Commerce's National Technical Information Service (NTIS), Springfield, VA 22151; or National Audio-Visual Center, National Archives and Records Administration, Capital Heights, MD 20743-3701.
(a) DOT calculates the hourly rates for manual searching, computer operator/programmer time, and time spent reviewing records, when performed by employees, based on the grades and rates in the General Schedule Locality Pay Table for the Locality of Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA, or equivalent grades, plus 16% to cover fringe benefits, as follows:
(1) GS-1 through GS-8 (or equivalent) - Hourly rate of GS-5 step 7 plus 16%;
(2) GS-9 through GS-12 (or equivalent) - Hourly rate of GS-10 step 7 plus 16%;
(3) GS-13 through GS-14 (or equivalent) - Hourly rate of GS-13 step 7 plus 16%; and
(4) GS-15 and above (or equivalent) - Hourly rate of GS-15 step 7 plus 16%.
(b) DOT determines the standard fee for a manual or electronic search to locate records by multiplying the searcher's hourly rate as set forth in paragraph (a) of this section by the time spent conducting the search.
(c) DOT's standard fee for review of records is the reviewer's rate set forth in paragraph (a) of this section, multiplied by the time the reviewer spent determining whether the located records are responsive to the request and whether the responsive records or segregable portions are exempt from disclosure, as explained in paragraphs (h), (i), and (j) of this section.
(d) DOT determines the standard fee for duplication of records as follows:
(1) Per copy of each page (not larger than 8.5 × 14 inches) reproduced by photocopy or similar means (includes costs of personnel and equipment) - US $0.10.
(2) Per copy prepared by any other method of duplication - actual direct cost of production.
(e) If DOT utilizes a contractor to perform any services described in this section, the standard fee is based on the equivalent hourly rate(s). DOT does not utilize contractors to discharge responsibilities that only DOT may discharge under the FOIA.
(f) In some cases, depending upon the category of requester and the use for which the records are requested, the fees computed in accordance with the standard fee schedule in paragraphs (a) through (e) of this section are either reduced or not charged, as prescribed by other provisions of this subpart.
(g) For purposes of fees only, there are four categories of FOIA requests:
(1) Requests submitted by a commercial entity and/or for a commercial use;
(2) Requests submitted by an educational or noncommercial scientific institution whose purpose is scholarly or scientific research (and not for a commercial use);
(3) Requests submitted by a representative of the news media; and
(4) All other requests.
(h) When records are requested by a commercial requester and/or for a commercial use, the fees assessed are reasonable standard charges for document search, duplication, and review.
(i) When records are requested by an educational or noncommercial scientific institution whose purpose is scholarly or scientific research or by a representative of the news media (i.e., for a non-commercial use), fees are limited to reasonable standard charges for document duplication.
(k) Fees under this subpart do not apply to any special study, special statistical compilation, table, or other record requested under 49 U.S.C. 329(c). The fee for the performance of such a service is the actual cost of the work involved in compiling the record. All such fees received by DOT in payment of the cost of such work are deposited in a separate account administered under the direction of the Secretary, and may be used for the ordinary expenses incidental to providing the information.
(a) DOT does not charge fees to any requester making a request under subpart C of this part for the following services:
(1) Services for which the total amount of fees that could be charged for the particular request (or aggregation of requests) is less than US $20, after taking into account all services that must be provided free of charge or at a reduced charge.
(2) The first two hours of search time, unless the records are requested for commercial use.
(3) Duplication of the first 100 pages (standard paper, not larger than 8.5 × 14 inches) of records, unless the records are requested for commercial use.
(4) Review time spent determining whether a record is exempt from disclosure, unless the record is requested for commercial use. DOT does not charge for review time except with respect to an initial review to determine the applicability of a particular exemption to a particular record or portion of a record. DOT does not charge for review at the administrative appeal level. However, when records or portions of records withheld under an exemption that is subsequently determined not to apply are reviewed again to determine the applicability of other exemptions not previously considered, this is considered an initial review for purposes of assessing a review charge.
(b) When DOT aggregates requests as provided in § 7.34(d), DOT charges each requester a ratable portion of the fees charged for combined services rendered on behalf of all requesters.
(c) DOT waives or reduces the fees described in § 7.42(i) and (j) when the requester makes a fee waiver or reduction request as provided in § 7.24(b) and establishes that disclosure of the information is in the public interest as provided in 5 U.S.C. 552 and this paragraph, and the DOT official having initial denial authority determines that disclosure of the information is in the public interest and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester. The requester must establish all of the following factors to DOT's satisfaction to show that the request is in the public interest:
(1) That the subject matter of the requested records concerns the operations or activities of the Federal Government;
(2) That the disclosure is likely to contribute to an understanding of Federal Government operations or activities;
(3) That disclosure of the requested information will contribute to the understanding of the public at large, as opposed to the understanding of the individual requester or a narrow segment of interested persons (to establish this factor, the requester must show an intent and ability to disseminate the requested information to a reasonably broad audience of persons interested in the subject);
(4) That the contribution to public understanding of Federal Government operations or activities will be significant; and
(5) That the requester does not have a commercial interest that would be furthered by the requested disclosure or that the magnitude of any identified commercial interest to the requester is not sufficiently large in comparison with the public interest in disclosure to render the disclosure one that is primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.
(d) DOT furnishes documents without charge or at a reduced charge when the official having initial denial authority determines that the request concerns records related to the death of an immediate family member who was, at the time of death, a DOT employee.
(e) DOT furnishes documents without charge or at a reduced charge when the official having initial denial authority determines that the request is by the victim of a crime who seeks the record of the trial at which the requester testified.
(f) Except as provided in paragraphs (f)(1) through (3) of this section, DOT does not assess search fees otherwise chargeable under § 7.42(h) and (j) or duplication fees otherwise chargeable under § 7.42(i) when DOT fails to comply with the time limits under § 7.31 or § 7.33.
(1) If DOT has determined that unusual circumstances apply (as defined in § 7.34(a)), 5,000 pages or less are necessary to respond to the request, and DOT has provided a timely written notice to the requester in accordance with § 7.34(a), a failure to comply with the time limits under § 7.31 or § 7.33 is excused for an additional 10 days. If DOT does not comply with the extended time limit, DOT does not assess search fees otherwise chargeable under § 7.42(h) and (j) or duplication fees otherwise chargeable under § 7.24(i);
(2) If DOT has determined that unusual circumstances apply (as defined under § 7.34(a)) and more than 5,000 pages are necessary to respond to the request, DOT may charge search fees under § 7.42(h) and (j) or duplication fees under § 7.42(j) if DOT has provided timely written notice to the requester in accordance with § 7.34(a) and (b), and DOT has 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.
Fees typically should be paid online, using a credit card, debit card, or electronic check. The DOT FOIA page (http://www.dot.gov/foia) has direct links to the electronic payment site. Any fees paid with a paper check, draft, or money order must be made payable to the U.S. Treasury and delivered as directed by the applicable FOIA Requester Service Center identified in § 7.27 (if the fees are for records made available under subpart C) or the DOT Dockets Office identified in § 7.12(b)(1) (if the fees are for records made available under subpart B).
(a) When DOT estimates that the search charges, review charges, duplication fees, or any combination of fees that could be charged to the requester will likely exceed US $25, DOT notifies the requester of the estimated amount of the fees, unless the requester has previously indicated a willingness to pay fees as high as those anticipated. In cases where DOT notifies the requester that actual or estimated fees may amount to more than US $25, the time limit for responding to the request is tolled until the requester has agreed to pay the anticipated total fee (see § 7.35). The notice also informs the requester how to consult with the appropriate DOT officials with the object of reformulating the request to meet his or her needs at a lower cost.
(b) DOT may require payment of fees prior to actual duplication or delivery of any releasable records to a requester. However, advance payment, i.e., before work is commenced or continued on a request, is not required unless:
(1) Allowable charges that a requester may be required to pay are likely to exceed US $250; or
(2) The requester has failed to pay within 30 days of the billing date fees charged for a previous request to any part of the U.S. Government.
(c) When paragraph (b)(1) of this section applies, DOT notifies the requester of the estimated cost. If the requester has a history of prompt payment of FOIA fees, the requester must furnish satisfactory assurance of full payment of the estimated charges. Otherwise, the requester may be required to make advance payment of any amount up to the full estimated charges.
(d) When paragraph (b)(2) of this section applies, DOT requires the requester to either demonstrate that the fee has been paid or pay the full amount owed, including any applicable interest, late handling charges, and penalty charges as discussed in § 7.46. DOT also requires such a requester to make an advance payment of the full amount of the estimated fee before DOT begins processing a new request or continues processing a pending request.
(e) In the event that a DOT component is required to refund a prepayment, the processing of the refund may necessitate collection of the requester's Taxpayer Identification Number or Social Security Number and direct deposit information (bank routing number and bank account number) under 31 U.S.C. 3325, 31 U.S.C. 3332, and 31 CFR Part 208.
(a) DOT assesses interest on an unpaid bill starting on the 31st day following the day on which the notice of the amount due is first mailed to the requester. Interest accrues from the date of the notice of amount due at the rate prescribed in 31 U.S.C. 3717. Receipt by DOT of a payment for the full amount of the fees owed within 30 calendar days after the date of the initial billing stops the accrual of interest, even if the payment has not been processed.
(b) If DOT does not receive payment of the fees charged within 30 calendar days after the date the initial notice of the amount due is first mailed to the requester, DOT assesses an administrative charge to cover the cost of processing and handling the delinquent claim. In addition, DOT applies a penalty charge with respect to any principal amount of a debt that is more than 90 days past due. Where appropriate, DOT uses other steps permitted by Federal debt collection statutes, including disclosure to consumer reporting agencies and use of collection agencies, to encourage payment of amounts overdue.