[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 69 (Thursday, April 10, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 19816-19820]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-07178]


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PEACE CORPS

22 CFR Part 303

RIN 0420-AA29


Freedom of Information Act Administration

AGENCY: Peace Corps.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The final rule updates Peace Corps regulations on the Freedom 
of Information Act (FOIA) to implement guidance given by the President 
and the Attorney General regarding discretionary disclosures of records 
or information exempt from disclosure under the FOIA, whenever 
disclosure would not foreseeably harm an interest protected by a FOIA 
exemption. The final rule is based on language used by Department of 
Justice in its FOIA regulations. The Peace Corps received comments from 
the National Archives and Records Administration's Office of Government 
Information Services (OGIS).

DATES: This final rule is effective May 12, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Anne Hughes, Office of the General 
Counsel, Policy and Program Analyst, 1111 20th Street NW., Washington, 
DC 20526, and 202-692-2164.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The revisions to the Peace Corps' Freedom of 
Information Act (``FOIA'') regulations would incorporate the disclosure 
principles contained in President Obama's January 21, 2009 Memorandum 
regarding FOIA, the Attorney General's FOIA Guidelines to Favor 
Disclosure and Transparency dated March 19, 2009, and the Guide to the 
Freedom of Information Act promulgated by the Department of Justice's 
Office of Information Policy. The final rule deletes unnecessary and 
superfluous language and ensures the rule is consistent with current 
law. The final rule inserts additional contact information for the 
filing of initial FOIA requests; inserts additional contact information 
for the filing of administrative appeals; and adds two FOIA exemptions: 
5 U.S.C. 552(b)8, Contained in or related to examination, operating, or 
condition reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of an 
agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial 
institutions; and (b)9, Geological and geophysical information and 
data, including maps, concerning wells. The Peace Corps FOIA 
regulations were last revised May 14, 2007 (72 FR 27055).

[[Page 19817]]

Summary of Comments

    The proposed rule was published for comments (78 FR 48083, August 
7, 2013). The comment period closed September 6, 2013. The Peace Corps 
received comments about the proposed rule from the National Archives 
and Records Administration's Office of Government Information Services 
(OGIS) dated September 5, 2013. In general, OGIS commended the Peace 
Corps for updating its FOIA policies and procedures to reflect 
discretionary disclosure and to ensure consistency with current law. In 
accordance with its statutory mandate under FOIA, OGIS reviewed and 
commented on the Peace Corps' proposed changes to the rule and other 
sections of the existing rule. The Peace Corps addresses OGIS' comments 
on the proposed rule in more detail in the following section.

Analysis of Comments


Sec.  303.2  Definitions.

    Comment: Suggested the Peace Corps consider adding several terms, 
including requester category and fee waiver, to the glossary.
    Response: The Peace Corps has added the terms as suggested.


Sec.  303.3  Policy.

    Comment: Suggested a minor edit in the interest of clarity as noted 
in italics in the following sentence: ``As a matter of policy, the 
Peace Corps makes discretionary disclosures of records or information 
that may be exempt from disclosure under FOIA whenever disclosure would 
not foreseeably harm an interest protected by a FOIA exemption, but 
this policy does not create any right enforceable in court.''
    Response: The Peace Corps made the suggested change.


Sec.  303.6  Procedures for use of public reading room.

    Comment: Suggested adding clarifying language to this section so as 
not to inadvertently indicate that FOIA requests may be made by 
telephone. Specifically, suggests the following change, noted in 
italics: ``Persons submitting a request by telephone for a record in 
the public reading room will be notified whether a written request 
would be advisable to aid in the identification and expeditious 
processing of the records sought.''
    Response: The Peace Corps made the suggested change.


Sec.  303.8  Requests for records.

    Comment: Regarding subsection (b), suggested changing ``shall be 
clearly marked `Freedom of Information Act request' '' to ``should be 
clearly marked `Freedom of Information Act request.' ''
    Response: The Peace Corps made the suggested change.
    Comment: Regarding subsection (h), suggested the Peace Corps 
provide requesters with an individualized tracking number and a brief 
description of the subject of the request.
    Response: The Peace Corps provides an individualized tracking 
number to each requester and uses brief descriptions when appropriate. 
We will update the rule to reflect this.


Sec.  303.9  Exemptions for withholding records.

    Comment: Regarding subsection (b), recommends the Peace Corps more 
fully address the requirements in 5 U.S.C. 552 Sec.  (b) that agencies 
shall (1) indicate, if technically feasible, the precise amount of 
information deleted and the exemption under which the deletion is made 
at the place in the record where the deletion is made, and (2) indicate 
the exemption under which a deletion is made on the released portion of 
the record, unless including that indication would harm an interest 
protected by the exemption.
    Response: The Peace Corps concluded this comment does not require 
our comment. We add the word ``precise'' as suggested.


Sec.  303.10  Responsibilities and authorities.

    Comment: Suggests that the agency also provide requesters with a 
point of contact within the receiving agency to whom the requester can 
speak regarding the referral.
    Response: The Peace Corps has incorporated OGIS' suggestion in this 
section.


Sec.  303.12  Appeals.

    Comment: Subsection (a), suggest the Peace Corps allow 30 or even 
45 or 60 days for requesters to appeal. OGIS has observed that mail 
screening by Federal agencies may slow the amount of time it takes 
appeals to reach their destination. Thirty to 60 day deadlines are in 
line with other Federal agencies.
    Response: The Peace Corps will allow 30 days for requesters to 
appeal.
    Comment: With regard to subsection (b), suggests that the Peace 
Corps add language in accordance with the 2007 amendments to FOIA (5 
U.S.C. Sec.  552 (h)), regarding OGIS and its services.
    Response: Peace Corps has incorporated language regarding OGIS and 
its services as suggested.


Sec.  303.13  Fees.

    Comments: Regarding subsection (h), suggest providing requesters 
with an estimated amount of fees, including a breakdown of the fees for 
search, review and/or duplication. Also recommended that the Peace 
Corps allow documents to be released generally without any charge or at 
a reduced charge at its discretion and/or if disclosure of the 
information is in the public interest because it is likely to 
contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or 
activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial 
interest of the requester.
    Response: The Peace Corps concluded that the comment does not 
require a response or change to the final rule.

Preservation of Records and Records Management (This Not A Section in 
Current Rule)

    Comment: Suggests agencies include information about the 
preservation of records and records management in its FOIA regulations.
    Response: The Peace Corps concluded that such additional 
elaboration of a program objective would be duplicative of our current 
records management policy and unnecessary.

Executive Order 12866

    This regulation has been determined to be non-significant within 
the meaning of Executive Order 12866.

Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (5 U.S.C. 605(b))

    This regulatory action will not have a significant adverse impact 
on a substantial number of small entities.

Unfunded Mandates Act of 1995 (Sec. 202, Pub. L. 104-4)

    This regulatory action does not contain a Federal mandate that will 
result in the expenditure by State, local, and tribal governments, in 
aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 or more in any one year.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C., Chapter 35)

    This regulatory action will not impose any additional reporting or 
recordkeeping requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act.

Federalism (Executive Order 13132)

    This regulatory action does not have Federalism implications, as 
set forth in Executive Order 13132. It will not have substantial direct 
effects on the States, on the relationship between the national 
government and the States, or on the distribution of power and 
responsibilities among the various levels of government.

List of Subjects in 22 CFR Part 303

    Administrative practice and procedure, Freedom of information.


[[Page 19818]]


    For the reasons set out in the preamble, the Peace Corps proposes 
to amend 22 CFR Part 303 as follows:

PART 303--PROCEDURES FOR DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION UNDER THE 
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT

0
1. The authority citation for part 303 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 552; 22 U.S.C. 2501, et seq.; E.O. 12137, 44 
FR 29023, 3 CFR, 1979 Comp., p. 389; E.O. 12600, 52 FR 23781, 3 CFR, 
1987 Comp., p. 235.


0
2. Amend Sec.  303.2 by:
0
a. Redesignating paragraphs (d) through (g) as paragraphs (g) through 
(j), paragraph (h) as paragraph (l), and paragraph (i) as paragraph 
(m);
0
b. Adding new paragraphs (d), (e), and (f), and paragraphs (k) and (n); 
and
0
c. Revising newly redesignated paragraph (h).
    The revisions read as follows:


Sec.  303.2  Definitions.

* * * * *
    (d) Expedited processing means the process set forth in the FOIA 
that allows requesters to ask for expedited processing of their FOIA 
request if they can demonstrate a compelling need.
    (e) Fee waiver means the waiver or reduction of processing fees if 
a requester can demonstrate that certain statutory standards are 
satisfied including that the information is in the public interest and 
is not requested for a commercial interest.
    (f) FOIA Public Liaison means an agency official who is responsible 
for assisting in reducing delays, increasing transparency and 
understanding of the status of requests, and assisting in the 
resolution of disputes.
* * * * *
    (h) OIG records means those records as defined generally in this 
section which originated with or are in the possession and control of 
the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Peace Corps which have 
been compiled for law enforcement, audit, and investigative functions 
and/or any other purpose authorized under the IG Act of 1978, as 
amended.
* * * * *
    (k) Requester category means one of the three categories that 
agencies place requesters in for the purpose of determining whether a 
requester will be charged fees for search, review and duplication, 
including commercial requesters; non-commercial scientific or 
educational institutions or news media requesters, and all other 
requesters.
* * * * *
    (n) Submitter means any person or entity providing potentially 
confidential commercial information to an agency, which information may 
be subject to a FOIA request. The term submitter includes, but is not 
limited to, individuals, corporations, state governments, and foreign 
governments.
* * * * *

0
3. Revise Sec.  303.3 to read as follows:


Sec.  303.3  Policy.

    The Peace Corps will make its records concerning its operations, 
activities, and business available to the public consistent with the 
requirements of the FOIA. As a matter of policy, the Peace Corps makes 
discretionary disclosures of records or information that may be exempt 
from disclosure under the FOIA whenever disclosure would not 
foreseeably harm an interest protected by a FOIA exemption, but this 
policy does not create any right enforceable in court.
0
4. Amend Sec.  303.5 by:
0
a. Revising paragraphs (a), (b) introductory text, and (d); and
0
b. Removing paragraph (e).
    The revisions read as follows:


Sec.  303.5  Public reading room.

    (a) The Peace Corps maintains a public reading room at its 
headquarters at 1111 20th Street NW., Washington DC 20526. This room is 
supervised and is open to the public during Peace Corps' regular 
business hours for inspecting and copying records described in 
paragraph (b) of this section.
    (b) Subject to the limitation stated in paragraph (c) of this 
section, the Peace Corps makes the following records available in the 
public reading room:
* * * * *
    (d) Electronic reading room. Records required by the FOIA to be 
maintained and made available in the public reading room created by the 
Peace Corps on or after November 1, 1996, are made available 
electronically on the Peace Corps Web site at http://www.peacecorps.gov.


0
5. Revise Sec.  303.6 to read as follows:


Sec.  303.6  Procedures for use of public reading room.

    Any member of the public may inspect or copy records described in 
Sec.  303.5(b) in the public reading room during regular business 
hours. Because it will sometimes be impossible to produce records or 
copies of records on short notice, a person who wishes to inspect or 
copy records shall arrange a time in advance, by telephone or letter 
request made to the Peace Corps FOIA Officer. Persons submitting a 
request by telephone for a record in the public reading room will be 
notified whether a written request would be advisable to aid in the 
identification and expeditious processing of the records sought. 
Written requests should identify the records sought in the manner 
described in Sec.  303.8(b) and should request a specific date for 
inspecting the records. The requester will be advised as promptly as 
possible if, for any reason, it may not be possible to make the records 
sought available on the date requested.


0
6. Amend Sec.  303.8 by revising paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (h)(1), and 
(l)(1)(iv) to read as follows:


Sec.  303.8  Requests for records.

    (a) Except for records required by the FOIA to be published in the 
Federal Register or to be made available in the public reading room, 
the Peace Corps will make its records promptly available, upon request, 
to any person in accordance with this section, unless it is determined 
that such records should be withheld and are exempt from mandatory 
disclosure under the FOIA.
    (b) Requests. Requests for records under this section shall be made 
in writing via regular mail, email, facsimile, or online web portal 
and, as applicable, the envelope and the letter or other form of 
request should be clearly marked ``Freedom of Information Request.'' 
All requests shall be addressed to the FOIA Officer. Requests by letter 
shall use the address given in Sec.  303.5(a). Requests by email must 
be sent to the FOIA electronic mailbox, foia@peacecorps.gov. Regarding 
requests submitted via online web portal (accessible on the agency Web 
site, www.peacecorps.gov), requesters shall fill in all of the fields 
as required. Any request not marked and addressed as specified in this 
paragraph will be so marked by Peace Corps personnel as soon as the 
request is properly identified. The request will be forwarded 
immediately to the FOIA Officer. A request improperly addressed will 
not be deemed to have been received for purposes of the time period set 
out in paragraph (h) of this section until it has been received by the 
FOIA Officer. Upon receipt of an improperly addressed request, the FOIA 
Officer shall notify the requester of the date on which the time period 
began. Requests by letter shall be stamped ``received'' on the date 
received by the FOIA Office. Requests by email shall be ``received'' on 
the date the email arrived, if a business day, or on the next business 
day. Requests by online web portal will be entered automatically in the 
FOIA

[[Page 19819]]

tracking system. Requests sent via mail or email will be entered 
manually in the FOIA tracking system. Requesters may utilize the online 
web portal for purpose of checking status of requests (open/closed) for 
requests from all sources.
    (c) A request must reasonably describe the records requested so 
that employees of the Peace Corps who are familiar with the subject 
area of the request are able, with a reasonable amount of effort, to 
determine which particular records are within the scope of the request. 
If it is determined that a request does not reasonably describe the 
records sought, the requester shall be so informed and provided an 
opportunity to confer with Peace Corps personnel in order to attempt to 
reformulate the request in a manner that will meet the needs of the 
requester and the requirements of this paragraph (c). If the Agency 
cannot identify the requested records after a 2 hour search, it may 
determine that the records were not adequately described and ask the 
requester to provide a more specific request.
* * * * *
    (h) Initial response/delays. (1) The FOIA Officer, upon request for 
any records made in accordance with this section, except in the case of 
a request for OIG records, shall assign a tracking number to each 
individual request and send an acknowledgement letter or email to each 
requester. The acknowledgement letter or email will inform the 
requester of the assigned tracking number. The FOIA Officer will make 
an initial determination of whether to comply with or deny such request 
and dispatch such determination to the requester within 20 business 
days after receipt of such request. Peace Corps will acknowledge all 
FOIA requests within 20 working days, except for unusual circumstances, 
in which case the time limit may be extended for up to 10 business days 
by written notice to the requester setting forth the reasons for such 
extension and the date on which a determination is expected to be 
dispatched.
* * * * *
    (l) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iv) A matter of widespread and exceptional media interest in which 
there exist possible questions about the Peace Corps' or the Federal 
government's integrity which affect public confidence.
* * * * *

0
6. Amend Sec.  303.9 by adding paragraphs (a)(8) and (9) and revising 
paragraph (b) to read as follows:


Sec.  303.9  Exemptions for withholding records.

    (a) * * *
    (8) Contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition 
reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of an agency 
responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial 
institutions; or
    (9) Geological and geophysical information and data, including 
maps, concerning wells.
    (b) In the event that one or more of the above exemptions in 
paragraph (a) of this section apply, any reasonably segregable portion 
of a record shall be provided to the requester after deletion of the 
portions that are exempt. The Peace Corps shall indicate, if 
technically feasible, the precise amount of information deleted and the 
exemption under which the deletion is made at the place in the record 
where the deletion is made, and indicate the exemption under which a 
deletion is made on the released portion of the record, unless 
including that indication would harm an interest protected by the 
exemption. At the discretion of the Peace Corps officials authorized to 
grant or deny a request for records, it may be possible to provide a 
requester with:
    (1) A summary of information in the exempt portion of a record; or
    (2) An oral description of the exempt portion of a record.
* * * * *

0
7. Amend Sec.  303.10 by revising paragraphs (a), (c)(1)(i) and (ii), 
(c)(2)(ii), and (c)(3) to read as follows:


Sec.  303.10  Responsibilities and authorities.

    (a) Legal counsel. The General Counsel (GC) shall furnish legal 
advice to Peace Corps officials and staff as to their obligations under 
this part and shall take such other actions as may be necessary or 
appropriate to assure a consistent and equitable application of the 
provisions of this part by and within the Peace Corps. The OIG Legal 
Counsel will coordinate with GC, as appropriate and necessary, when 
furnishing legal advice to the OIG FOIA Officer and Inspector General.
* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) Consult with the other agency before responding to the request; 
or
    (ii) Refer the responsibility for responding to the request for the 
record to the other agency (but only if the agency is subject to FOIA). 
Ordinarily, the agency that originated a record will be presumed to be 
best able to determine whether to disclose it.
    (2) * * *
    (ii) Whenever a request is made for a record containing information 
that has been classified by another agency or may be appropriate for 
classification under Executive Order 13525 or any other executive order 
concerning the classification of records, the Peace Corps shall refer 
the responsibility for responding to the request regarding that 
information to the agency that classified the information, should 
consider the information for classification, or has the primary 
interest in the information, as appropriate.
    (3) Notice of referral. Whenever the Peace Corps refers all or any 
part of the responsibility for responding to a request to another 
agency, it ordinarily shall notify the requester of the referral and 
inform the requester of the name of the agency to which the request has 
been referred and the part of the request that has been referred and 
provide the requester with a point of contact within the receiving 
agency to whom the requester can speak regarding the referral.
* * * * *

0
8. Amend Sec.  303.12 by:
0
a. Revising paragraph (a);
0
b. Redesignating paragraph (b) as paragraph (c); and
0
c. Adding new paragraph (b).
    The addition read as follows.


Sec.  303.12  Appeals.

* * * * *
    (a) Any person whose written request has been denied is entitled to 
appeal the denial within 30 business days by writing to the Associate 
Director of the Office of Management or, in the case of a denial of a 
request for OIG Records, the Inspector General, at the address given in 
303.5(a). An appeal need not be in any particular form, but should 
adequately identify the denial, if possible, by describing the 
requested record, identifying the official who issued the denial, and 
providing the date on which the denial was issued. If the appeal is 
sent via mail, the envelope and the letter should be clearly marked 
``Freedom of Information Appeal'' and the appeal shall be addressed to 
the Associate Director, Office of Management. Appeals by letter shall 
use the address given in Sec.  303.5(a). Appeals are accepted via 
email. Appeals by email must be sent to the FOIA electronic mailbox, 
foia@peacecorps.gov. In appeals submitted via online web portal 
(accessible on the agency Web site, www.peacecorps.gov), requesters 
shall fill in all of the fields as required. Appeals by online web 
portal will be entered automatically in the FOIA tracking system. 
Persons

[[Page 19820]]

submitting an appeal may utilize the online web portal for purpose of 
checking status of requests (open/closed) for requests from all 
sources.
    (b) A response to an appeal will advise the requester that the 2007 
FOIA amendments created the Office of Government Information Services 
(OGIS) to offer mediation services to resolve disputes between FOIA 
requesters and Federal agencies as a non-exclusive alternative to 
litigation. A requester may contact OGIS in any of the following ways:

Office of Government Information Services, National Archives and 
Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road--OGIS, College Park, MD 
20740, ogis.archives.gov, Email: ogis@nara.gov, Telephone: 202-741-
5770, Facsimile: 202-741-5769, Toll-free: 1-877-684-6448.
* * * * *

0
9. Amend Sec.  303.13 by revising paragraph (b) to read as follows:


Sec.  303.13  Fees.

* * * * *
    (b) For each commercial use request, fees will be limited to 
reasonable standard charges for document search, review, and 
duplication.
* * * * *

0
10. Amend Sec.  303.14 by revising paragraphs (a)(5)(i) and (ii) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  303.14  Procedures for responding to a subpoena.

    (a) * * *
    (5) * * *
    (i) Congressional requests or subpoenas for testimony or documents;
    (ii) Employees or former employees making appearances solely in 
their private capacity in legal or administrative proceedings that do 
not relate to the Agency (such as cases arising out of traffic 
accidents or domestic relations). Any question regarding whether the 
appearance relates solely to the employee's or former employee's 
private capacity should be referred to the Office of the General 
Counsel.
* * * * *

    Dated: March 25, 2014.
Garry W. Stanberry,
Deputy Associate Director, Management.
[FR Doc. 2014-07178 Filed 4-9-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6051-01-P