Last month, changes to the SEC’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) regulations became effective. These changes included an extension to the time frame for FOIA appeals in addition to increased fees for processing FOIA requests.
Changes to FOIA Fees
The SEC has moved from a set of fixed rates for FOIA search and review activities to the formula contained in the OMB Guidelines, which is a rate of basic pay plus 16 percent (to reflect the cost of employee benefits). There are three tiers of personnel typically involved in the search and review activities: personnel in grades SK-8 or below, personnel in grades SK-9 to SK-13, and personnel in grades SK-14 or above. The fees will change based on salary changes for the personnel in each grade.
The current FOIA fees, which became effective August 17 of this year, are as follows:
– SK-8 or below: $29/hour
– SK-9 to 13: $61/hour
– SK-14 or above: $89/hour.
Additionally, the SEC can now charge FOIA requesters in quarter-hour increments, and the SEC is no longer providing requesters with up to one half hour of staff time devoted to searching for and reviewing records without charge.
Copy costs have not changed.
Changes to the FOIA Appeals Time Frame
After commenters suggested that the proposed 30 day time frame for FOIA appeals was too short, the SEC adopted a 90 day time frame for filing an FOIA appeal.
Submission of FOIA Appeals by E-mail and Fax
The SEC now allows FOIA appeals to be submitted by facsimile or e-mail in addition to mail.
Responses to FOIA Requests
The SEC now provides for responses to FOIA requests that indicate that no records were located to make clear that a possible response to a request is that no records could be located.