Saturday, September 11, 2010

CEQ FOIA Request Procedures Amended

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has revised regulations governing the disclosure of information pursuant to the requests made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The regulations have also been updated to reflect CEQ's policy and practices.

The regulations provide for an online FOIA Requester Service Center and Reading Room; electronic FOIA requests; access to records published or released under FOIA in electronic format, provided the record is readily reproducible in that form or format; designation of a Chief FOIA Officer and FOIA Public Liaison; referral of requests to appropriate Federal agencies or consultation with another agency, if appropriate; review of requests in order of receipt; multi-tacking of FOIA requests based on the amount of time and work involved in processing requests; revision of CEQ's initial determination period from 10 days to 20 days, beginning on the date CEQ receives a written request; assignment of individualized tracking numbers for certain requests; tolling of the time limit for CEQ to act on a request; expedited processing of FOIA requests upon showing a showing of compelling need; CEQ consultations with a requester to determine if a FOIA request may be modified to allow for a more timely response, or to arrange an alternative time frame for a response; informing the requester of the volume of requested material withheld and the extent of deletions in records released in response to a FOIA request; increase in time for appeal from 45 to 60 days from the date of denial of a request; extension of the time limit to respond to a request in “unusual circumstances,” and aggregation of clearly related requests by a single requester or group of requesters.

CEQ's fee structure is also revised to include a method for computing fees based upon the classification of the requester and the base pay of the employee making the search, an increase of copying costs from $0.10 to $0.15 per page, and a provision for waiving fees.

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