(a) Receipt of requests. Upon receipt of any request that satisfies the requirements set forth in § 261.11, the Office of the Secretary shall assign the request to the appropriate processing schedule, pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section. The date of receipt for any request, including one that is addressed incorrectly or that is referred to the Board by another agency or by a Reserve Bank, is the date the Office of the Secretary actually receives the request.
(b) Multitrack processing.
(1) The Board provides different levels of processing for categories of requests under this section.
(i) Requests for records that are readily identifiable by the Office of the Secretary and that have already been cleared for public release or can easily be cleared for public release may qualify for simple processing.
(ii) All other requests shall be handled under normal processing procedures, unless expedited processing has been granted pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section.
(2) The Office of the Secretary will make the determination whether a request qualifies for simple processing. A requester may contact the Office of the Secretary to learn whether a particular request has been assigned to simple processing. If the request has not qualified for simple processing, the requester may limit the scope of the request in order to qualify for simple processing by contacting the Office of the Secretary in writing, by letter or email, or by telephone.
(c) Expedited processing.
(1) A request for expedited processing may be made at any time. A request for expedited processing must be clearly labeled “Expedited Processing Requested.” The Board will process requests and appeals on an expedited basis whenever it is determined that they involve:
(i) Circumstances in which the lack of expedited processing could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual; or
(ii) An urgency to inform the public about an actual or alleged Federal Government activity, if made by a person who is primarily engaged in disseminating information.
(2) A requester who seeks expedited processing must submit a statement, certified to be true and correct, explaining in detail the basis for making the request for expedited processing. For example, under paragraph (c)(1)(ii) of this section, a requester who is not a full-time member of the news media must establish that the requester is a person whose primary professional activity or occupation is information dissemination, though it need not be the requester's sole occupation. Such a requester also must establish a particular urgency to inform the public about the government activity involved in the request - one that extends beyond the public's right to know about Federal Government activity generally. The existence of numerous articles published on a given subject can be helpful in establishing the requirement that there be an “urgency to inform” the public on the topic. As a matter of administrative discretion, the Board may waive the formal certification requirement.
(3) Within 10 calendar days of receipt of a request for expedited processing, the Board will notify the requester of its decision on the request. A denial of expedited processing may be appealed to the Board in accordance with § 261.14. The Board will respond to the appeal within 10 working days of receipt of the appeal.
(d) Priority of responses. The Office of the Secretary will normally process requests in the order they are received in the separate processing tracks, except when expedited processing is granted in which case the request will be processed as soon as practicable.
(e) Time limits. The time for response to requests shall be 20 working days from when a request is perfected. Exceptions to the 20-day time limit are only as follows:
(1) In the case of expedited treatment under paragraph (c) of this section, the Board shall give the expedited request priority over non-expedited requests and shall process the expedited request as soon as practicable.
(3) In unusual circumstances, as defined in 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(6)(B), the Board may -
(i) Extend the 20-day time limit for a period of time not to exceed 10 working days, where the Board has provided written notice to the requester setting forth the reasons for the extension and the date on which a determination is expected to be dispatched; and
(ii) Extend the 20-day time limit for a period of more than 10 working days where the Board has provided the requester with an opportunity to modify the scope of the FOIA request so that it can be processed within that time frame or with an opportunity to arrange an alternative time frame for processing the original request or a modified request, and has notified the requester that the Board's FOIA Public Liaison is available to assist the requester for this purpose and in the resolution of any disputes between the requester and the Board and of the requester's right to seek dispute resolution services from the Office of Government Information Services.