SUMMARY OF FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT
PROCEDURES AND GUIDELINES
The Freedom of Information Act, being Michigan Public Act 442 of 1996 (“FOIA” or the “Act”), provides for disclosure of public records that are not exempt from disclosure. To fulfill this mandate, the Road Commission adopted “Freedom of Information Act Procedures and Guidelines” (the “Procedures”) for handling FOIA requests. This document summarizes the Road Commission’s Procedures in accordance with FOIA.
I. Submitting a FOIA Request
You must submit a request for Road Commission public records in writing to the Road Commission’s FOIA Coordinator. You may request either (a) to receive a copy of Road Commission records, or (b) to review Road Commission records.
You may submit the FOIA request for records in person, by mail or via electronic means (i.e., fax, e-mail or other electronic means). Requests submitted in person or by mail are deemed received as of the date of receipt. Requests submitted to the Road Commission via electronic means are deemed received by the FOIA Coordinator one business day after the date the electronic transmission is made.
II. Road Commission’s Response to a FOIA Request
Once the Road Commission receives your FOIA request, the Road Commission will respond to your request within five business days, unless the Road Commission extends the period to respond to the request by not more than 10 business days, in addition to the original five business days.
In response to a FOIA request, the Road Commission may: (1) grant the request (and provide either a copy of the requested public record or the opportunity to review the record, in accordance with your request); (2) deny the request if no such record exists or the record is exempt pursuant to one of the exemptions under the Act that are applicable to the Road Commission; or (3) grant the request in part and deny the request in part.
If the Road Commission issues a 10-business-day extension to respond to the FOIA request, the Road Commission’s written response to a FOIA request will include (1) an estimate as to when the Road Commission expects to provide the requested records to you, and (2) a detailed summary on the estimate of cost to provide the records to you.
Please note that FOIA does not require the Road Commission to make a compilation, summary or report of public records or other information.
III. Reviewing Road Commission Public Records
You may request to review Road Commission public records. If you make such a request, the Road Commission will make facilities available to inspect the requested records during the Road Commission’s normal business hours and when the records can reasonably be made available. You must submit a request form describing the requested documents prior to the Road Commission allowing the inspection of the records.
You cannot write on, mark or alter any original Road Commission records that you are reviewing. You will be allowed to have only an erasable pencil with you, if you wish to take notes. No pens or indelible writing instruments are allowed. A Road Commission official will be present during your inspection of Road Commission records if original records are involved; you may be charged a fee to defray the Road Commission’s cost of the monitoring service to protect the records from loss, unauthorized alteration, mutilation, or destruction. Original records cannot be removed from the location provided for inspection and note taking.
IV. Requesting Copies of Road Commission Public Records
You may request copies of Road Commission public records. The Road Commission will review the available records and provide you with copies of the records unless the records do not exist, are not in possession of the Road Commission, or exempt from disclosure under FOIA.
V. Calculation and Payment of Fees; Deposit
Under FOIA, the Road Commission may charge a fee for providing you with a copy of a public record, including labor costs, if the failure to charge a fee would result in unreasonably high costs to the Road Commission because of the nature of your request. If the time required to respond to a FOIA request exceeds one-half hour, the request will be deemed to result in unreasonably high costs to the Road Commission. Prior to responding to a request, the Road Commission will provide you with a written estimate of the applicable fees. The Road Commission may require the payment of a deposit or, in certain circumstances, may waive payment of the fee.
A. Calculation of Fee
The Road Commission may charge you a fee for searching, reviewing, redacting, copying and mailing requested public records. The fee will be limited to actual mailing costs, and to the actual incremental cost of duplication, including labor, the cost of search, examination, review, and the deletion and separation of exempt from nonexempt material pursuant to Section 14 of FOIA. The Road Commission will mail the available requested records to you upon payment of the applicable fees. The fees charged by the Road Commission for responding to your request may include:
· a fee for the Road Commission’s labor costs directly associated with (1) making copies (including paper or digital copies), (2) searching for, locating, and examining the requested records, and (3) the necessary review of and separation and deletion of exempt material from nonexempt material. You will not be charged for the redaction of documents if the Road Commission previously redacted the public record in question and the redacted version is still in the Road Commission’s possession.
· the Road Commission’s actual cost of mailing for sending the records to you. The Road Commission will not send documents via overnight delivery service or expedited shipping (or obtain shipping insurance on such mailing) unless you specifically request such services in writing and agree to pay for such costs.
· the Road Commission’s cost to copy the records. The incremental cost of copying the records is 10 cents per 8 1/2″ x 11″ or 8 1/2″ x 14″ sheet of paper. If the Road Commission needs to send the records to a commercial copy center for copying, you will be charged for those costs.
· the Road Commission’s actual costs to copy photographs, audio or videotapes, microforms, maps or plans including any costs incurred to have a third-party make such copies. If a Road Commission official or employee is required to deliver and/or pick up the public records and/or copies of public records, you will be charged for the labor hours (calculated in accordance with the Procedures), involved and applicable mileage (at the then-current IRS mileage reimbursement rate).
For labor costs to comply with a request, the Road Commission will charge the hourly wage of its lowest-paid employee capable of performing the necessary task regardless of whether that person is available or who actually performs the labor. The labor charges will be billed in increments of 15 minutes or more and all partial time increments will be rounded downward. The labor charge will include an amount equal to one-half of the applicable hourly wage to cover (or partially cover) the cost of the fringe benefits (if any) for the lowest-paid employee; provided, however, that such amount will not exceed the actual costs of the fringe benefits.
The review and separation of exempt from non-exempt information may be performed by a Road Commission official or employee or, if necessary, outside legal counsel. For services performed by outside legal counsel, the Road Commission may charge the legal counsel’s time; the charge will not exceed an amount equal to six times the then-current State minimum hourly wage rate. The charges for such services will be billed in increments of 15 minutes or more and all partial time increments will be rounded downward.
B. Fee Waiver
The Road Commission may waive all or a portion of the fees for the search and copying of records if the Road Commission determines that a waiver or reduction of the fee is in the public interest because searching for or furnishing copies of the public record can be considered as primarily benefiting the general public. A public record search shall be made and a copy of a public record shall be furnished without charge for the first $20.00 of the fee for each request by either: (a) person submits an affidavit stating that they are indigent and receiving specific public assistance, or (b) if not receiving public assistance, stating facts showing inability to pay the cost because of indigence.
Under the Procedures, you may be ineligible for a fee reduction or waiver if: (a) you previously received discounted copies of public records from the Road Commission twice during the calendar year; (b) you are making the records request in conjunction with outside parties who are offering or providing payment or other remuneration to you to make the request; or (c) you are a specific type of nonprofit corporation (as provided in FOIA and the Procedures).
If it is anticipated that a charge will exceed $50.00, you may be required to pay a good‑faith deposit prior to the Road Commission fulfilling the request for the records, but the deposit will not exceed one‐half of the total anticipated fee. In certain circumstances, the Road Commission may require payment of a deposit equal to 100% of the estimated charge for fulfilling your request for records, if you previously failed to pay the total amount due from a prior FOIA request to the Road Commission.
VI. Rights to Appeal
You can appeal decisions made with respect to the public records that you requested, if the request was denied or denied in part, or the amount of the calculated fee for responding to your request. An appeal from a determination by the FOIA Coordinator or from a decision of the Road Commission Board may be taken to the Circuit Court.
A. Appeal of Denial of Public Records (in whole or in part)
You have the right to submit to the Road Commission Board, a written appeal that specifically states the word “appeal” and identifies the reason or reasons that you assert in support of reversal of the failure of disclosure of the public records that were not disclosed. In the alternative, you have the right to seek judicial review of the denial or nondisclosure.
Under Section 10 of FOIA, you have the right to receive attorney fees and damages, if, after judicial review, the Circuit Court determines that the Road Commission has not complied with Section 5 of FOIA and if the court orders disclosure of all or a portion of a public record that had not been disclosed to you by the Road Commission.
B. Appeal of Calculation of Fee
You may appeal the amount of a fee to the Road Commission Board or the Circuit Court if that fee exceeds the amount permitted under these Procedures and FOIA.
An appeal of the amount of the fee to the Road Commission Board must specifically include the word “appeal” and identify how the required fee exceeds the amount permitted under the Procedures or the Act.
If you file a fee appeal with the Circuit Court, the Road Commission will not complete the processing of the request for the public record at issue until the court resolves the fee dispute.
Within 10 business days after receiving a written appeal of the fee, the Road Commission Board is required to: (1) waive the fee; or (2) reduce the fee and provide written notice as to the basis for the remaining fee; or (3) uphold the fee and provide written notice as to the basis for the fee; or (4) issue a notice extending for not more than 10 business days the period during which the Road Commission Board will respond to the appeal (the notice will include the reason or reasons why the extension is necessary).
Any appeal will be deemed received as of the date of the first regularly scheduled meeting of the Road Commission Board following submission of the written appeal.
A deposit required to be paid to the Road Commission is considered a fee.
VII. Additional Information; Revisions to Summary and Procedures
Additional information may be found in the Road Commission’s Procedures, which may be obtained from the Road Commission at 1500 Scribner Avenue, N.W., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49504, at no charge.
This Summary and the Procedures may be modified from time to time by the Road Commission Board and without notice.
This Summary is effective as of May 26, 2015.