Friday, February 28, 2014

[US] Freedom of Information Act Proposed Regulations

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

Genealogists make requests for government documents under the Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA).  The Government has proposed amendments to their
FOIA process.

The US Department of Commerce announced in the February 27 Federal Register
proposed rulemaking notice on updated and revised FOIA rules, which includes
methods of submitting requests and appeals. The notice also updates privacy
rules and requests. Comments must be submitted on or before March 31, 2014
and must include the agency name [Department of Commerce] and docket number
[Docket No. 140127076-4076-01] or RIN [RIN 0605-AA33] for this rulemaking.
The methods of submission and to where they go are included in the notice
which may be read at:
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-02-27/pdf/2014-03633.pdf

Records under the FOIA  include all Government records, regardless of
format, medium or physical characteristics, and electronic records and
information, audiotapes, videotapes, Compact Disks, DVDs, and photographs.
A request should include specific information about each record sought, such
as the date, title or name, author, recipient, and subject matter of the
record, and the name and location of the office where the record might be
found.
Twenty (20) working days (i.e., excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal
public holidays) from date of receipt of the request is the amount of time
the regulation proposes to make a determination whether to comply with a
FOIA request . Whether the request is approved or not, the requestor must be
notified of the decision in writing. If the decision is to approve, payment
must be made before the information is provided.
The fees to be charged are based on the cost of the search and the salary
rate plus 16 percent for the researcher's time and any copies at $0.16 USD
per page.

Details are included in the proposed regulation that can be found at the
above-mentioned url.

Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

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