Wayne State University

Aim Higher

Policies-12

01-4 Freedom Of Information Act

1.0  Purpose

1.1     The purpose of this University Policy is to establish the procedure for the  handling of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

2.0  Definition

2.1      A FOIA request is a request made to the University for the copy of a pre-existing "public document" pursuant to the FOIA. Requesting individuals are entitled to receive copies of almost all University documents, with certain exceptions permitted by law. The determination that a document is not subject to FOIA requirements can be made only by the Office of the General Counsel (OGC). The FOIA does not require the University to create new documents or to answer questions; it requires only that the University provide copies of documents that already exist. In order for a request to be a FOIA request, the requestor must state that she/he is making a request pursuant to the FOIA.

2.2     “Written request” means a writing that asks for public records and includes a writing transmitted by facsimile, electronic mail, or other electronic means.

3.0  Response Time

3.1     The University is required to respond to FOIA requests within five business days of receipt of the inquiry anywhere within the University.  An extension of the response period of up to 10 business days may be obtained upon the approval of the OGC. Because of the very short response time, immediate action regarding these requests is necessary.

3.2     A written request made by facsimile, electronic mail, or other electronic means is considered received by the University one business day after the transmission is made.

4.0  General Rules

4.1     The University Department of Public Relations (DPR) is the primary University office for handling and responding to FOIA requests.  The Director of Public Relations is hereby designated as the University’s FOIA coordinator.

4.2     If a department or division receives a FOIA request that it can fulfill and is willing to fulfill, the department is authorized and encouraged to act on its own to respond. Before doing so, the department shall notify DPR of the request. If the request has been made in writing, the department shall deliver a copy of the writing to DPR on the same day that it is received by the department, together with a statement that the department will respond. If the request is made by telephone or in person, the department shall deliver a list of what has been requested to DPR, on the date of the request, together with a statement that the department will respond.

4.3     If a department or division receives a request that it believes can be fulfilled and is appropriate to be fulfilled, but believes that the department is unable adequately to fulfill the request, the department shall refer the request to the DPR for response. If the request has been made in writing, the department shall deliver the writing to the DPR on the same day that it is received by the department. If the request is made by telephone, the department shall direct the requester to telephone DPR at 577-2150. If the request is made in person, the department shall direct the requester to DPR. DPR shall send the department a copy of the response covering letter.

4.4     If the department or division, or the DPR, receives a request that cannot be completely fulfilled (because some or all of the requested documents do not exist, or for any other reason), the department or division or DPR shall confer with the Office of the General Counsel on the same day that the request is received.

4.5      If a department or division, or the DPR, receives a request that the department or division or DPR believes inappropriate to fulfill, the department or division or DPR shall confer with the Office of the General Counsel on the same day that the request is received, as to whether the University is required by law to provide the document(s).

4.6      Copies of all FOIA requests must be forwarded immediately upon receipt to the FOIA coordinator.  The FOIA coordinator shall maintain copies of all written FOIA requests for at least one year.

5.0  Denials

5.1     The General Counsel or his/her designee is the individual authorized to approve any denial or partial denial of a FOIA request. This applies both to cases where the request cannot be fulfilled and to cases where the law does not require that it be fulfilled. The OGC shall send a copy of its denial letter to the department and to the DPR.

5.2      If a FOIA request is denied in whole or in part, the requester may file with the Office of the President a written appeal that (1) specifically states the word “appeal” and (2) identifies the reason or reasons for reversal of the denial.

5.3      The President or his designee shall review and decide FOIA appeals.

5.4     Within 10 days after the Office of the President receives a written appeal pursuant to section 5.2, the vice president designated to review and decide the appeal shall do one of the following:

a.   Reverse the disclosure denial;

b.   Issue a written notice to the requester upholding the disclosure denial;

c.   Reverse the disclosure denial in part and issue a written notice to the requester upholding the disclosure denial in part; or

d.  Under unusual circumstances, issue a notice extending for not more than 10 business days the period for responding to the written appeal.  There shall be no more than one notice of extension for a particular written appeal.

5.5     Copies of all decisions on FOIA appeals shall be sent to the DPR and the OGC.

6.0  Charges

6.1     Where the cost of duplication and mailing is  $10 or less, a department or division, or the DPR, fulfilling a FOIA request, or the OGC, partially fulfilling a request, may (but need not) require the requester to pay the actual cost of mailing plus ten cents per page for duplication. Where the cost of duplication and mailing is more that $10, the duplication and mailing fee must be charged. In either case the department, division, DPR or OGC may (but need not) require that payment be made before or at the time of delivery.

6.2     Where the nature of the request or the number of documents requested is reasonably anticipated to require the expenditure of time or other resources costing the University $50 or more, the University shall charge an additional fee for the cost of labor incurred in duplication and mailing as well as the cost of search, examination, review, and the deletion and separation of exempt from non-exempt information.  The University may, and in the case of a request exceeding $50 normally shall, require that a 50 percent deposit be paid before the search is begun, and to require that the balance of any fee be paid on delivery of the requested information.  In such cases, the department or division receiving the FOIA request, or the DPR shall confer with the Office of General Counsel.

6.3      If the individual making the FOIA request submits an affidavit stating that she/he is receiving public assistance, or stating other facts showing indigence, no charge may be made for the first $20 of the fee.

6.4     All questions regarding appropriate charges for FOIA responses should be directed to the Office of the General Counsel.

7.0  Duration

7.1     This delegation is revocable by the president at any time and without notice.

8.0  Effective Date

8.1     This University Policy is effective upon issuance.

8.2     Executive Order 88-2 (Second Release) is hereby revoked, effective immediately.

 

 

Signed by President Irvin D. Reid November 5, 2001.