This July 2014 publication updates the model FOIA regulations released on May 2014. The document is also available as PDF and DOCX. To see how the recommendations have changed from May to July, please download this track changes document (as PDF or DOCX).
Model FOIA Regulations
§1001.1 Purpose and scope.
§1001.3 Availability of records.
§1001.4 Categories of exemptions.
§1001.5 Request for records.
§1001.6 Responsibility for responding to requests.
§1001.7 Administrative appeals.
§1001.8 Time frame for Agency response.
§1001.9 Business information.
The regulations in this part implement the provisions of the FOIA.
The following definitions apply to this part:
Chief FOIA Officer means the senior official to whom we, the agency, delegated responsibility for efficient and appropriate compliance with the FOIA.
Commercial use request means a FOIA request from or on behalf of a person who seeks information for a use or purpose that furthers his or her commercial, trade, or profit interests, including pursuit of those interests through litigation.
Confidential business information means trade secrets and confidential, privileged, or proprietary business or financial information provided to the government by a submitter that would be exempt from release under Exemption 4 of the Freedom of Information Act because disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause substantial competitive harm.
Direct costs mean in the case of commercial use requesters those expenses we, the agency, have actually incurred to search for, duplicate, and review records in response to a FOIA request. Direct costs include, but are not limited to, the salary of the employee performing the work and costs associated with duplication.
Educational institution means a preschool, a public or private elementary or secondary school, an institution of undergraduate or graduate higher education, an institution of professional education, or an institution of vocational education, which operates a program or programs of scholarly research.
Fee waiver means the waiver or reduction of processing fees if a requester can demonstrate that OMB guidance and standards contained in the FOIA statute (5 U.S.C. 552) are satisfied, including that the information is in the public interest and not for a commercial interest.
FOIA means the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552, as amended. The FOIA applies to third-party requests for records concerning the general activities of the government and our agency in particular.
FOIA Officer means the individual to whom we, the agency, have delegated authority to carry out our day-to-day FOIA administration.
FOIA Public Liaison means the individual that we, the agency, designated to assist FOIA requesters in obtaining agency records, including assistance in resolving disputes.
Non-commercial scientific institution means an organization operated for the purpose of conducting scientific research, the results of which are not intended to promote any product or industry, and is not operated on a commercial basis. This includes all Internal Revenue Service designated 501(c)(3) organizations.
Person includes an individual, partnership, corporation, association, or public or private organization other than an agency.
Record means any writing, drawing, map, recording, diskette, DVD, CD-ROM, tape, film, photograph, machine readable database file, or other documentary material, regardless of medium, by which information is preserved, including electronic records.
Redact means delete or mark over.
Representative of the news media means any person or entity that gathers information of potential public interest to a segment of the public, uses its editorial skills to turn the raw materials into a distinct work, and distributes that work to an audience. Examples of news media entities include television or radio stations that broadcast ''news'' to the public at large and publishers of periodicals that disseminate ''news'' and make their products available through a variety of means to the general public, as well as news organizations that operate solely on the internet. Alternative media will be considered to be news-media entities.
Requester category means one of the three categories in which requesters will be placed for the purpose of determining whether they will be charged fees for search, review, or duplication. They are:
(2) Non-commercial scientific or educational institutions or news media requestors, and
(3) All other requestors.
Submitter means any person or entity from whom we, the agency, obtain confidential business information, directly or indirectly.
Unusual circumstances means, to the extent reasonably necessary for the proper processing of a FOIA request:
(2) The need to search for, collect, and appropriately examine a voluminous amount of separate and distinct records that are demanded in a single request; or
(3) The need for consultation, which will be conducted with all practicable speed, with another agency having a substantial interest in the determination of the request.
(a) In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(1), wepublish the following records in the Federal Register and make an index of the records publicly available:
(2) Statements of the general course and method by which our functions are channeled and determined, including the nature and requirements of all formal and informal procedures available;
(3) Rules of procedure, descriptions of forms available or the places at which forms may be obtained, and instructions as to the scope and contents of all papers, reports, or examinations;
(4) Substantive rules of general applicability adopted by us as authorized by law and statements of general policy or interpretations of general applicability formulated and adopted by us; and
(5) Each amendment, revision, or repeal of any material listed in paragraphs (a)(1) through (4) of this section.
(b) In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(2), we will make the following materials available for public inspection and copying:
(2) Administrative staff manuals and instructions to staff that affect a member of the public;
(3) Copies of all records, whenever practicable, which have been released to any person under paragraph (c) of this section; and
(4) A general index of the records referred to in paragraph (b)(3) of this section.
(c) In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(3), we will make available, upon proper request, as described in section 5 of this part, all non-exempt agency records, or portions of records, not previously made public under paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section.
(d) The FOIA applies only to agency records in existence at the time of the request; the FOIA does not require that we create new records in order to respond to FOIA requests. When responsive records are located, we adopt a presumption of disclosure and openness. This means we evaluate records with a view toward what can be disclosed, rather than what can be withheld, and we will not withhold information simply because we can do so legally.
(e) We will make records and materials under paragraphs (a) – (c) of this section publically available through our website.
(f) We will make all reasonable efforts to maintain copies of any records that are the subject of a pending request, appeal, or lawsuit under the FOIA. We will also preserve all correspondence pertaining to FOIA requests until disposition is authorized under the National Archives and Records Administration's General Records Schedule 14.
(a) The FOIA does not require disclosure of matters that are:
(2) Related solely to our internal personnel rules and practices;
(3) Specifically exempted from disclosure by statute (other than the Government in the Sunshine Act, 5 U.S.C. 552b, as amended), provided that such statute:
(ii) If enacted after October 28, 2009, specifically cites to Exemption 3 of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(3);
(5) Inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda or letters that would not be available at law to a party other than an agency in litigation with us, but only to the extent our interest in protecting such records or information from disclosure outweighs the public interest in disclosure. Further, any information more than 12 years old is presumptively subject to disclosure, absent specific and documented evidence of harm from disclosure.
(6) Personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
(7) Records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent the production of such law enforcement records or information:
(ii) Would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or impartial adjudication;
(iii) Could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
(iv) Could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source, including a state, local, or foreign agency or authority or any private institution that furnished information on a confidential basis, and, in the case of a record or information compiled by a criminal investigation, or by an agency conducting a lawful national security intelligence investigation, information furnished by a confidential source;
(v) Would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law; or
(vi) Could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual.
(9) Geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells.
(b) Presumption of openness.