The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

Freedom of Information Act Annual Report

Fiscal Year 2003
(Oct. 1, 2002-Sept. 30, 2003)

CONTENTS

I. Introduction
II. Making a FOIA Request
III. Definition of Terms and Acronyms Used in This Report
IV. Exemption 3 Statutes
V. How Many FOIA or Privacy Act Access Requests Did TTB Receive?
VI. Appeals of Initial Denials of FOIA and Privacy Act Requests
VII. Compliance with Time Limits/Status of Pending Requests
VIII. Comparisons of TTB's Performance with Previous Years
IX. Costs/FOIA Staffing
X. FOIA Processing Fees Did TTB Collect
XI. TTB's FOIA Regulations


I. Introductory Information

Q. What Is the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?

A: The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), like all Executive Branch agencies of the Federal Government, is subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552, and the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. 552a.

The FOIA gives any person the right to request access to Federal agency records, such as those maintained by TTB. We must provide the requested records unless the records are exempt from disclosure under one or more of the nine exemption provisions listed in the FOIA. These provisions include exemptions for: Records that are confidential under other statutes (such as the Internal Revenue Code); confidential trade secrets or commercial and financial information; records that are part of an agency's deliberative, pre-decision process; some personnel and medical records; and certain law enforcement and investigative records.

Q. What are FOIA Annual Reports?

A: The FOIA also requires each Federal agency to prepare an annual report to the Attorney General regarding its compliance with the Act's provisions. As an agency within the Department of the Treasury, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau's annual report is included in the Department's consolidated report. You may view the complete "Treasury FOIA Report to the Attorney General" on the Department of the Treasury's Web site at https://www.treasury.gov/foia.

This document contains the information found in our FOIA Annual Report for Fiscal Year (FY) 2003 (October 1, 2002 through September 30, 2003).

Q: How do I obtain further information about Annual FOIA Reports?

A: You may download the "Treasury FOIA Annual Report to the Attorney General" from here or access it from the Department of the Treasury's FOIA Web site at https://www.treasury.gov/foia/index.html

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
Disclosure Services
Attention: FOIA Officer
1310 G Street, N.W., Suite 200-E
Washington, DC 20220
Telephone: 202-882-9904
Fax: 202-453-2331
E-mail: TTBFOIA@TTB.GOV


To obtain copies of FOIA reports:

Department of Treasury FOIA Annual Reports -

arrow You may download the "Treasury FOIA Annual Report to the Attorney General" from the Department of the Treasury's FOIA Web site at
https://www.treasury.gov/foia/reports .

arrow You may also request a paper copy of the report from the Department of the Treasury Disclosure Officer at:

Departmental Disclosure Officer
Disclosure Services
Department of the Treasury
Washington, DC 20220
Telephone: 202-622-0930
Fax: 202-622-3895


Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau FOIA Annual Report —

arrow You may view a copy of the "Treasury FOIA Report to the Attorney General," which includes TTB's official annual FIOA report, on the Department of the Treasury's Web site at https://www.treasury.gov/foia.

arrow You may download a copy of this document from the TTB's Web site's FOIA page at index.shtml.

arrow You may also obtain a paper copy of this document by telephoning or writing to:

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
Disclosure Services
Attn: FOIA Officer – Room 200-E
1310 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20220
E-mail: TTBFOIA@TTB.GOV
Telephone: 202-882-9904
Fax: 202-453-2331


II. Making a FOIA Request

Q: How do I make a FOIA request?

A: The Department of the Treasury's "Guide to Accessing Treasury Records" is available on the Department's Web site FOIA page at https://www.treasury.gov/foia/guide.pdf.

General information on how to make a FOIA request is also available on TTB's Web site at index.shtml.

All FOIA requests must:

1. Be in writing, addressed to the above address and signed;

2. State that it is made pursuant to the FOIA or Treasury disclosure regulations, 31 CFR, Part 1;

3. Reasonably describe the requested records (browse GILS before submitting a request);

4. Include a firm agreement to pay fees for search, duplication, and review, as appropriate. You may request a waiver or reduction of fees. With such a request, you must include a justification as to why you think the fees should be waived; and

5. State whether you wish to inspect the records at a TTB office or have the records sent to you without inspection.

Q. Where should FOIA requests be sent?

A: All FOIA requests for TTB records should be sent to:

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
Disclosure Services
Attn: FOIA Office – Room 200-E
1310 G Street, NW
Washington DC 20220

If you have questions or need assistance, please contact our FOIA officer at the address above or telephone (202) 882-9904; Fax (202) 453-2331; or E-mail TTBFOIA@TTB.GOV. (Sorry, we cannot accept FOIA requests sent via e-mail).

Q: What is TTB's average response time to a FOIA request?

A: During FY 2003, TTB response time to the FOIA requests it received ranged from one to 28 days.

Q: Why were some FOIA requests not granted by TTB?

A: The most common reasons why TTB could not grant requests for records during Fiscal Year 2003 were: (1) The records were statutorily exempt from public disclosure under section 6103(a) of the Internal Revenue Code (see 26 USC 6103(a)), and (2) the records no longer exist.


III. Definition of Terms and Acronyms Used in This Report

Q: What are the agency-specific acronyms and other terms?

A: TTB uses the following acronyms and terms:

Acronyms

Terms

TTB

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau

RPD

Regulations and Procedures Division

SDA

Specially Denatured Alcohol

DSP

Distilled Spirits Plants

NA

Not Applicable


Q: What are the basic terms used in this report?

A: The following terms are used in this document and in the annual Department of the Treasury FOIA Report to the Attorney General:

1. FOIA/PA request: Freedom of Information Act or Privacy Act request. A FOIA request is generally a request for access to records concerning a third party, an organization, or a particular topic of interest. A Privacy Act request is a request for records concerning oneself; such requests are also treated as FOIA requests. (All requests for access to records, regardless of which law the requester cites, are included in this report.)

2. Initial Request: A request to a Federal agency for access to records under the Freedom of Information Act.

3. Appeal: A request to a Federal agency asking that it review at a higher administrative level a full denial or partial denial of access to records under the Freedom of Information Act, or any other FOIA determination such as a matter pertaining to fees.

4. Processed Request or Appeal: A request or appeal for which an agency has taken a final action on the request or the appeal in all respects.

5. Multi-track processing: A system in which simple requests requiring relatively minimal review are placed in one processing track and more voluminous and complex requests are placed in one or more other tracks. Requests in each track are processed on a first-in/first-out basis. A requester who has an urgent need for records may request expedited processing (see below).

6. Expedited processing: An agency will process a FOIA request on an expedited basis when a requester has shown an exceptional need or urgency for the records, which warrants prioritization of his or her request over other requests that were made earlier.

7. Simple request: A FOIA request that an agency using multi-track processing places in its fastest (nonexpedited) track based on the volume and/or simplicity of records requested.

8. Complex request: A FOIA request that an agency using multi-track processing places in a slower track based on the volume and/or complexity of records requested.

9. Grant: An agency decision to disclose all records in full in response to a FOIA request.

10. Partial grant: An agency decision to disclose a record in part in response to a FOIA request, deleting information determined to be exempt under one or more of the FOIA's exemptions: or a decision to disclose some records in their entireties, but to withhold others in whole or in part.

11. Denial: An agency decision not to release any part of a record or records in response to a FOIA request because all the information in the requested records is determined by the agency to be exempt under one or more of the FOIA's exemptions, or for some procedural reason (such as because no record is located in response to a FOIA request).

12. Time limits: The time period in the Freedom of Information Act for an agency to respond to a FOIA request (ordinarily 20 working days from proper receipt of a "perfected" FOIA request).

13. "Perfected" request: A FOIA request for records which adequately describes the records sought, which has been received by the FOIA office of the agency or agency component in possession of the records, and for which there is no remaining question about the payment of applicable fees.

14. Exemption 3 statute: A separate Federal statute prohibiting the disclosure of a certain type of information and authorizing its withholding under FOIA subsection (b)(3).

15. Median number: The middle, not average, number. For example, of 3, 7, and 14, the median number is 7.

16. Average number: The number obtained by dividing the sum of a group of numbers by the quantity of numbers in the group. For example, of 3, 7, and 14, the average number is 8.


IV. Exemption 3 Statutes

Q: What Exemption 3 Statutes did TTB rely on to withhold records
during fiscal year 2003?

A: As noted above, the FOIA contains nine provisions exempting certain records from disclosure. Exemption 3 (5 U.S.C. 552(b)(3) concerns records protected from disclosure by another statute, which (A) leaves the agency no discretion regarding the records' disclosure, or (B) establishes particular criteria for the records' withholding or refers to particular types of matters to be withheld.

In the case of TTB, section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 6103) makes all taxpayer records confidential and, with certain specified exceptions, forbids the disclosure of such records.

Q: What types of information did TTB withhold under 26 U.S. C. 6103?

A: Under section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code, TTB withheld taxpayer related information such as: Occupational Tax Stamps; DSP Operating Permits under 26 U.S.C. 5171; Industrial Alcohol User Permits issued under 26 U.S.C. 5271; Offers in Compromise—Abstract and Statement (up to 1 year after the date of acceptance), Offers in Compromise—Abstract and Statement (more than 1 year after date of acceptance), and Offers in Compromise—actual offer; Domestic Alcohol Production Formulations; Imported Beverage Alcohol Lab Analyses and Pre-Import Applications; Alcohol beverage formulas and other proprietary information; SDA Permit listings; and Tobacco excise taxpayer information.

Q: Have the Federal courts upheld the use of this statute to withhold information?

A: Yes, in the case citied below, the Federal courts upheld the withholding of tax return information.

Statue Type of Information Withheld

Case Citation

26 U.S.C. 6103 Tax return information

Church of Scientology v IRS; 484 U.S. 9 (1987)

V. Initial FOIA and Privacy Act Requests Received by TTB in FY 2003

Q: How many FOIA and Privacy Act requests were pending with TTB at the end of FY 2002?

A: Seven requests were pending at the end of FY 2002.

Q: How many FOIA and Privacy Act requests did TTB receive during FY 2003?

A: TTB received 161 requests during FY 2003.

Q: How many FOIA and Privacy Act requests did TTB process during FY 2003?

A: TTB processed 116 requests during FY 2003.

Q: How many FOIA and Privacy Act requests were pending with TTB at the end of FY 2003?

A: 52 requests were pending with TTB at the end of FY 2003.

Q: How did TTB dispose of these initial FOIA and Privacy Act requests?

A: In evaluating FOIA and Privacy Act requests for records, TTB made:

1. 34 total grants of the requested records;
2. 18 partial grants (or partially withheld) of the requested records; and
3. 8 denials for the requested records.

a. Number of times TTB used each FOIA exemption contained in
5 U.S.C. 552___*

(b)(1): 0 (b)(7)(A): 0 (b)(8): 0

(b)(2): 3 (b)(7)(B): 0 (b)(9): 0

(b)(3): 25 (b)(7)(C): 2

(b)(4): 8 (b)(7)(D): 0

(b)(5): 10 (b)(7)(E): 0

(b)(6): 23 (b)(7)(F): 0

(* Counting each exemption once per request.)

4. What other reasons did TTB cite for nondisclosure of the requested records?

a. No records found that were responsive to the request: 13;

b. Request forwarded, in total, to another Treasury Department bureau or to another agency: 15;

c. Requester withdrew the request: 1;

d. Denied for nonpayment of estimated fees or previously owed fees: 12;

e. The requested records not reasonably described: 11;

f. The FOIA request was not proper for some other reason: 2 (for example, requester sought answers to questions);

g. The requested records were not the type of record maintained by TTB: 1;

h. The request was a duplicate request from the same person: 1; and

i. Requests not processed for miscellaneous reasons: 0.

Total requests denied for other reasons: 56.


VI. Appeals of Initial Denials of FOIA and Privacy Act Requests

Q: How many initial TTB denials were appealed?

A: TTB received 4 appeals during FY 2003. .

Q: How many appeals did TTB process (close) during FY 2003?

A: TTB processed 5 appeals during FY 2003.

Q: What were the dispositions of those appeals?

A: 1. TTB upheld 4 appeals completely (requester's appeal denied);

2. TTB partially reversed its denial 1 time (requester's appeal partially granted and partially denied); and

3. TTB completely granted the appeal 0 times.

In these appeals, TTB used each FOIA exemption contained in
5 U.S.C. 552___*

(b)(1): 0 (b)(7)(A): 0 (b)(8): 0

(b)(2): 2 (b)(7)(B): 0 (b)(9): 0

(b)(3): 4 (b)(7)(C): 0

(b)(4): 2 (b)(7)(D): 0

(b)(5): 2 (b)(7)(E): 0

(b)(6): 2 (b)(7)(F): 0

(* Counting each exemption once per request.)

Q: What other reasons did TTB cite in the denial of these appeals?

A: 1. No records found that were responsive to the request: 0
2. Request forwarded, in total, to another Treasury Department bureau or to another agency: 0
3. Requester withdrew the request: 0
4. Denied for nonpayment of estimated fees or previously owed fees: 0
5. The requested records not reasonably described: 0
6. The FOIA request was not proper for some other reason: 0 (for example, requester sought answers to questions);
7. The requested records were not the type of record maintained by TTB: 0
8. The request was a duplicate request from the same person: 0 and
9. Requests not processed for miscellaneous reasons: 0

Total appeals denied for other reasons: 0


VII. Compliance with Time Limits/Status of Pending Requests

Q: What Was TTB's Median Time for Processing Requests?

1. For simple requests (Requests approved for expedited processing are shown below and are not included here.):

a. Number of "simple requests" processed (closed): N/A

b. Median number of days to process "simple requests": N/A


2. Complex Requests:

a. Number of "complex requests" processed (closed): N/A

b. Median number of days to process "complex requests": N/A


3. Requests for expedited processing:

a. Number of expedited requests received: 0

b. Number of expedited requests processed (closed): 0

c. Median number of days to process expedited requests: 0


Q: What Is the Status of TTB's Pending FOIA Requests?

1. Number of requests pending with TTB at end of FY 2003
(September 30, 2003): 52

2. Median number of days that such requests were pending
with TTB as of September 30, 2003: 28

VIII. Comparisons of TTB's Performance with Previous Years

N/A.

(The Homeland Security Act of 2002 created TTB on January 24, 2003. No comparison of TTB's performance can be made with previous annual FOIA reports.)


IX. Costs/FOIA Staffing

Q: What is the staffing levels of FOIA personnel in TTB?

A: 1. Number of full-time TTB FOIA personnel: One ( 1)

2. Number of TTB personnel with part-time or occasional
FOIA duties: 0.60

3. Total number of TTB FOIA personnel (in work-years): 1.60


Q: What are TTB's total costs to answer FOIA requests? (staff and resources combined).

1. FOIA processing (including appeals): $ 49,740.62

2. Litigation-related activities (estimated): $ 0

3. Total TTB FOIA Costs: $ 49,740.62

4. Comparison with previous years: NA.


Q: What is the statement of additional resources needed in TTB for FOIA Compliance?

A: Created on January 24, 2003, by the Homeland Security Act of 2002, TTB is a new agency with limited resources. For one-half of FY 2003, TTB processed and perfected FOIA requests using one full time employee. This one full-time employee was new to TTB and time was required for training related to the statutes and Department of the Treasury regulations applicable to processing FOIAs within TTB.

X. Processing Fees Collected

Q: How much in FOIA processing fees did TTB collect?

A: Under the FOIA, we may collect reasonable fees for document searching and reproduction.

1. Total fees collected by TTB in FY 2003: $ 3,053.07.
2. Percentage of TTB's total FOIA costs in FY 2003: 6.14%.


XI. TTB's FOIA Regulations

Q: What are TTB's FOIA regulations?

A: TTB and its Regulations and Procedures Division (RPD) process FOIA requests according to the requirements of the Department of Treasury's FOIA regulations, which are found at 31 CFR Part 1, Subpart A.

These regulations can be accessed online at: https://www.treasury.gov/foia/Pages/index.aspx.

You may obtain a paper copy of these regulations by writing or calling:

Departmental Disclosure Officer
Disclosure Services
Department of the Treasury,
Washington, DC 20220

Telephone: 202-622-0930
Fax: 202-622-3895

Page last reviewed: January 16, 2015
Page last updated: March 13, 2017
Maintained by: Regulations and Rulings Division

TTB
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