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Part 103.-AVAILABILITY OF INFORMATION
Sec, 103.0 Scope.
103.10 Classes of Customs documents exempt from dis103,1 Public reference facilities,
closure, 103,2 Requests for identifiable records and coples,
103.11 Information on vessel manifests and summary sta103.3 Replies to requests.
tistical reports, 103.4 Processing of requests.
103,12 Sanction for improper disclosure by Customs of103,5 Appeals from initial denials,
ficer or employee, 103.6 Maintenance of files and records,
103.13 Statements for publication, 103,7 Availability of Customs documents,
103.14 Testimony or the production of documents in 103.8 Other Customs records,
court. 103,9 Fees for furnishing records, Authority: Sec. 501, 65 Stat. 290 (5 U.S.C. 301,552,31 U.S.C. 483a). Additional
authority and statutes interpreted or applied are cited in the text or following the section affected.
This part contains the regulations of the United States Customs Service im- TDs 70-134, 73–310. plementing the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552), which set forth the procedures by which records may be obtained from Headquarters, United States Customs Service, Washington, D.C., and from offices of regional commissioners of Customs and district directors of Customs. The fees charged for furnishing such records are also prescribed in this part. The regulations govern inspection, copying, or otherwise obtaining copies of Customs opinions, orders made in the adjudication of cases, rulings, and records. This part also contains the general rules covering the release of certain information to the press and the giving of testimony or the production of Customs documents in Court. To the extent permitted by other laws, the United States Customs Service will make available records which it is authorized to withhold under 5 U.S.C. 552(b) and this part whenever it determines that such disclosure is in the public interest. Persons seeking information on records may find it useful to consult with the Public Information Division, United States Customs Service, Washington, D.C. 20229, or with public information officers in Customs field offices before invoking the formal procedures set out in this part. The Attorney General's Memorandum on the Public Information Section of the Administrative Procedure Act, which was published in June 1967, is available from the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.
103.1 Public reference facilities.
Each office listed below will maintain a public reading room or public reading TDs 73–310, 76–120, area where the material required to be made available under 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(2) 76-146. and this part may be inspected and copied:
United States Customs Service (Headquarters)
Region VI--Houston 100 Summer Street
500 Dallas Street Suite 1819
Suite 1240 Boston, Mass, 02110
Houston, Texas 77002 Region II--New York
Region VII--Los Angeles 6 World Trade Center
New Federal Building New York, New York 10048
300 N, Los Angeles Street Region III--Baltimore
Los Angeles, California 90012 U.S. Customhouse 40 S, Gay Street
Region VIII--San Francisco Baltimore, Maryland 21202
New Federal Building
450 Golden Gate Avenue Region IV--Miami
Box 36117 Plaza Executive Centre
San Francisco, California 94102 Suite 300 7370 N.W. 36th Street Miami, Florida 33166
Room 1501 Region V-New Orleans
55 East Monroe Street Canal-LaSalle Building
Chicago, Illinois 60603
The Reading Rooms are open to the public during regular business hours unless other hours are posted, Monday through Friday of each week, exclusive of national holidays. A fee for copies of requested material will be charged in accordance with section 103.9.
103.2 Requests for identifiable records and copies.
(a) To whom requests for records should be addressed. Requests to inspect or copy records of the United States Customs Service including those not customarily made available and which are not available in a public reading room (see section 103.1), shall be addressed to the local regional commissioner or district director of Customs, if the records are located in his office, or to Headquarters, United States Customs Service, Washington, D.C. 20229, to the attention of the Director, Classification and Value Division, Office of Regulations and Rulings.
(b) Request should be in writing and for identifiable records. A request to inspect or copy records should be submitted in writing and should sufficiently identify the records requested to enable Customs personnel to locate them with a reasonable amount of effort. Where possible, specific information regarding dates, titles, file designations, and other information which may help identify the records should be supplied by the requester. If the request relates to a matter in pending litigation, the court and its location should be identified.
(c) Standard forms not necessary. Standard forms are not necessary for make ing requests. Any written request is acceptable if it identifies a record sufficiently to enable it to be located with a reasonable amount of effort.
(d) Requests for records falling within a specific category.--(1) Must meet identifiable records requirement. A request for all records falling within a reasonably specific category shall be regarded as conforming to the statutory requirement that records be identifiable if it can reasonably be determined which particular records come within the request, and the records can be searched for and collected without unduly burdening or interfering with Customs operations because of the staff time consumed or the resultant disruption of files.
(2) Assistance in reformulating nonconforming requests. If it is determined that a categorical request would unduly burden or interfere with Customs operations under subparagraph (1) of this paragraph, the response denying the request on those grounds shall specify the reasons why and the extent to which compliance would burden or interfere with Customs operations. An opportunity shall be extended to the requester to confer with knowledgeable Customs personnel in an attempt to reduce the request to manageable proportions by reformulation and by agreeing on an orderly procedure for the production of the records.
(e) Requests for records of other agencies. Where it is determined that the question of the availability of requested records is primarily the responsiblity of another agency, the request will be referred to the other agency for processe ing in accordance with its regulations, and the person submitting the request will be so notified.
(f) Authority of Customs field officers. A regional commissioner or district director of Customs to whom a request is made for permission to inspect or copy a record may grant the request if the record is of a type enumerated in section 103.7 or section 103.8, or if precedents from headquarters authorize the granting of the request. A regional commissioner or district director may deny a request to inspect or copy a Customs record if the case is clearly covered by a previous decision made by the Commissioner of Customs or the Assistant Commissioner, Office of Regulations and Rulings, but any case not so covered shall be sent to headquarters for a decision. A deletion is, in effect, a denial of infor. mation, and shall be made only if consistent with paragraph (b) of section 103,4, or if the case is clearly covered by a previous decision made by the Commissioner of Customs.
(g) Requests from foreign governments. Each request from a foreign government will be forwarded to headquarters for a decision. 103.3 Replies to requests.
(a) Replies or acknowledgments. Requests for sufficiently identified records shall be complied with or denied, or their receipt acknowledged, as soon as practicable after their receipt by a regional commissioner or district director of Customs. Requests for sufficiently identified records addressed to Headquar. ters, United Customs Service, shall be complied with or acknowledged by
the Director, Classification and Value Division, or denied by the Assistant Commissioner, Office of Regulations and Rulings, as soon as practicable after their receipt.
(b) Acknowledgment appropriate. Acknowledgement of, rather than action upon, the request is appropriate only in one or more of the following circumstances:
(1) The requested records are stored in whole or part at other locations than the office in receipt of the request.
(2) The request requires the collection of a substantial number of specified records.
(3) The request is couched in categorical terms and requires an extensive search for the records responsive to it.
(4) The requested records have not been located in the course of a routine search and additional efforts are being made to locate them.
(5) The requested records require examination and evaluation to determine if they are exempt from disclosure.
(6) The requested records or some of them involve the responsibility of another agency or another bureau or office of the Department of the Treasury, whose assistance or views are being sought in processing the request.
(c) Notation of reason for delay on acknowledgment. When compliance with a request for sufficiently identified records will be delayed for one or more of the above reasons, the acknowledgment shall include a notation of the reason or reasons for the delay.
(d) Forwarding to other agency. If action on the request will be delayed because of paragraph (b)(6) of this section, a copy of the request will be forwarded immediately to the other agency or office concerned.
(e) Insufficient information. When the request does not identify a record sufficiently to enable it to be located with a reasonable amount of effort, the requester shall be notified as soon as practicable after receipt of the request that additional information is necessary to identify the record. 103.4 Processing of requests.
(a) Procedure to be followed. Upon receipt of a request to inspect, copy or TD 73-310. purchase a copy of any Customs document, the applicant will be advised in accordance with section 103.3 whether the information, or any part thereof, may be released to the applicant, with or without the deletion of identifying details. If it is concluded that the document or any part thereof may be released to the applicant, he will be advised of the cost of securing the information or a copy of the document and the manner of making payment (see section 103.9). Upon receipt of this amount, or of a guarantee of payment, the information or copy will be made available.
(b) Deletion of identifying details from documents--(1) General. Where an opinion, order, ruling, or other Customs document contains
information of the type described in subparagraph (2) of this paragraph, but the actual opinion, order, ruling, or substance of the document can be separated from the exempted matter, partial copies containing only such parts as can properly be disclosed will be furnished insofar as practicable.
(2) Reasons for deletion. Ordinarily, information will be deleted which:
(i) Relates to details of business transactions of private parties the disclosure of which may be detrimental to the interests of the parties involved.
Example. The name of the importer or exporter, or other member of the public directly concerned, generally will be deleted from any document if its inclusion in the document would disclose trade secrets, the operations of his business or other commercial or financial information,
(ii) Was submitted in reliance upon a long-established assurance that such information will be kept in confidence and used only for official purposes, or
(iii) is prohibited from disclosure by law.
(3) Decision to delete. Any document from which identifying details have been deleted must be accompanied by a statement in writing expressing the reason for the deletion,
(c) Form of denial. A reply denying a written request for a record shall be in writing signed by the Assistant Commissioner, Office of Regulations and Rulings, at headquarters, Washington, D.C., or by the regional commissioner or district director of Customs pursuant to section 103.2(f), and shall include:
(1) Exemption category. A reference to the specific exemption or.exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552), and section 103.10
authorizing the withholding of the record or a part thereof and a brief explanation of how the exemption applies to the record withheld; and
(2) Administrative appeal and judicial review. An outline of the appeal procedure within the United States Customs Service and a statement that, in the event of denial upon appeal, the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552) makes judicial review available in the United States district court in the district in which the requester resides, or has a principal place of business, or in which the agency records are situated.
(d) Record cannot be located or does not exist. If a requested record cannot be located, or is known to have been destroyed or otherwise disposed of, the requester shall be so notified.
(e) Copy of response to Classification and Value Division. A copy of each grant or denial letter and each notification under paragraph (d) of this section which is issued in response to a written request for a record shall be furnished to the Director, Classification and Value Division, at headquarters, Washington, D.C.
103.5 Appeals from initial denials.
(a) Time for appeal. When the Assistant Commissioner, Office of Regulations and Rulings, at headquarters, Washington, D.C., or the appropriate regional commissioner or district director of Customs, has denied a request for records in whole or in part, the requester may, within 30 days of its receipt, appeal the denial to the Commissioner of Customs, Washington, D.C. 20229. The appeal shall be in writing.
(b) Action by Commissioner. The Commissioner of Customs will act upon the appeal as expeditiously as possible upon its receipt. However, where novel and difficult questions are involved, or where the advice of another agency is needed, the Commissioner of Customs may delay final action on the appeal pending a thorough analysis of the questions involved or, where requested, the receipt of advice from another agency. When a delay in acting upon the appeal is contemplated, the Commissioner of Customs will notify the requester of the delay and of the reason or reasons therefor.
(c) Form of action on appeal. The decision of the Commissioner of Customs
an appeal shall be in writing. A denial in whole or in part of a request on appeal shall set forth the exemption relied on, a brief explanation consistent with the purpose of the exemption of how the exemption applies to the records withheld, and the reasons for asserting it.
103.6 Maintenance of files and records.
(a) Responsibility for maintaining files. The Director, Classification and Value Division, at headquarters, Washington, D.C., and each regional commissioner and district director will maintain a file which will include each request for a record, as defined in paragraph (c) of this section, and the action taken thereon.
(b) Appeals. The Director, Classification and Value Division, at headquarters, Washington, D.C., will maintain a file of copies of both grants and denials on ap. peal. This file will be open to the public and indexed, to the extent possible, according to the exemptions asserted and according to the type or subject of the records requested.
(c) "Request for record" defined. For purposes of uniformity in recordkeeping, a "Request for a record" is defined as a written request for an identifiable record of the United States Customs Service which has not been published in the Federal Register, the Customs Bulletin, by press release or otherwise, or made available in a public reading room, or which has not previously been customarily furnished to requesters whether or not the request makes reference to the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552).
103.7 Availability of Customs documents.
Except as exempted by section 103,10, all administrative staff manuals and instructions to staff that affect any member of the public, and indices thereto,