FTC Seeks Public Comments on Proposed Freedom of Information Act Fee Changes; Also Publishes Final Rule Making the FOIA Process More Transparent to the Public

The Federal Trade Commission has issued a Federal Register notice seeking public comment on proposed amendments to the agency’s fee rule and accompanying fee schedule for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The proposed changes would also apply to fees for producing Commission information and records to members of the public through the Consumer Response Center and the Library.

The FTC also has issued a final rule updating the agency’s FOIA contact information and addressing a range of other FOIA-related technical amendments. The final rule implements the Open Government Act to more accurately reflect new FOIA services the agency provides and makes the process more transparent to the public. 

In the first notice, the FTC seeks public comments on a range of proposed FOIA-related fee changes, including:

  • Prohibiting certain fees when agency responses are not timely;
  • Clarifying how duplication fees are determined;
  • Waiving all fees if the total chargeable amount is less than $25;
  • Updating the fees for microfiche and photocopying services;
  • Adding new fee categories for information provided on DVDs, CDs and videotapes;
  • Increasing the fees for the use of Express Mail to reflect actual agency costs;
  • Increasing the fees for providing formal certification services;
  • Adding descriptive information about the categories of FOIA requesters;
  • Clarifying that certain public materials are available for free; and
  • Updating information about how the agency can collect FOIA-related debts.

Public comments on the proposed changes are being accepted until March 29, 2013.

The second notice announcing a final rule adds a new category of materials to the FTC’s public record – public workshop transcripts and materials – and updates the FOIA rules to provide additional public information about the agency’s FOIA procedures.  It also will help the FTC administer the FOIA program and keep it current with existing procedures. As the rule implementing the Open Government Act is final when published, there is no public comment period.

The Commission vote approving publication of the Federal Register notices was 4-0-1, with Chairman Jon Leibowitz not participating.  (FTC File No. P072104; the staff contact is Richard Gold, Office of the General Counsel, 202-326-3355.)

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.  Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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