Section 4.5 — Responsibility for responding to requests.

(a) In general. Except as stated in paragraph (b) of this section, the proper component of the Department to respond to a request for records is the component that first receives the request and has responsive records, or the component to which the Departmental Freedom of Information Officer assigns lead responsibility for responding to the request. Records responsive to a request shall include only those records within the Department's possession and control as of the date the proper component receives the request.

(b) Consultations and referrals. If a component receives a request for a record in its possession in which another Federal agency subject to the FOIA has the primary interest, the component shall refer the record to that agency for direct response to the requester. Ordinarily, the agency that originated a record will be presumed to have the primary interest in it. A component shall consult with another Federal agency before responding to a requester if the component receives a request for a record in which another Federal agency subject to the FOIA has a significant interest, but not the primary interest; or another Federal agency not subject to the FOIA has the primary interest or a significant interest (see Sec. 4.8 for additional information about referrals of classified information).

(c) Notice of referral. Whenever a component refers a document to another Federal agency for direct response to the requester, it ordinarily shall notify the requester in writing of the referral and inform the requester of the name of the agency to which the document was referred.

(d) Timing of responses to consultations and referrals. All consultations and referrals shall be handled in chronological order, based on when the FOIA request was received by the first Federal agency.

(e) Agreements regarding consultations and referrals. Components may make agreements with other Federal agencies to eliminate the need for consultations or referrals for particular types of records.