New Rule on FOIA Processing Fee Imposes Burdens According to National Security Archive

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on February 8, 2007

National Security Archive: “The CIA’s proposed new rule on Freedom of Information Act processing fees is likely to discourage FOIA requesters while imposing new administrative burdens both on the Agency and the public, according to formal comments filed with the CIA [February 7, 2007] by the National Security Archive of George Washington University. The Archive’s general counsel, Meredith Fuchs, commented that, “Significant time, money, and other resources were spent by the CIA on fee disputes last year. One of those disputes involved the CIA’s refusal to abide by a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals judicial decision about the Archive’s fee status. Given that the Agency recouped only $4,732.80 in fees in FY 2006, those disputes served mainly to delay and obstruct FOIA requests. The Archive recommended that the Agency change its proposed rule to: (1) eliminate the unnecessary and improper definitions of FOIA requester categories; (2) eliminate the requirement that all requesters make open-ended, written fee commitments because many FOIA requests can be processed without the requester incurring any fees and the CIA proposal would discourage requesters and add to the Agency’s administrative processing time; (3) eliminate the illegal provision mandating prepayment of fees before the CIA will honor form or format requests; (4) revise the proposed duplication fees provisions so that requesters pay only those “direct costs” actually incurred in the processing of the individual request, whether for paper or electronic duplication; and (5) revise the public interest fee waiver provisions to follow the letter and intent of the FOIA to promote dissemination of information in the public interest.”

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