|Public Records Request Policy|
All citizens in a democratic society are entitled to openness in government. Idaho's Open Meeting and Public Records laws, ensure that state and local government business is conducted in the open, that citizens have access to public documents, and at the same time the privacy of citizens is protected.
Idaho Code § § 9-337 through 349 contains provisions of the Idaho Public Records Act. I.C. § 9-339 requires that public records requests be granted or denied " within three (3) working days of the date of receipt of the request for examination or copying." If necessary, the public agency may take up to ten (10) working days to provide the information. The research analyst should be notified of such determination immediately so proper notice may be provided. It is policy that as a public service agency every effort will be made by the State Controller's Office to fully comply with the Public Records Act by responding in a timely, accurate and courteous manner.
II. Denial of Request
A public record request may be denied in whole or in part only by the legal administrator of the agency or his/her designee and only after legal consultation (i.e. Office of Attorney General). Such determination must be provided in writing to the requester stating the statutory authority for denial, stipulating clearly the right to appeal and the time for doing so.
(In order to ensure full compliance with the law, policies and procedures must be in effect and are discussed here.)
The Act does not require the requester to reveal their name, the purpose of the request or complete a written request except to verify the identity of the requester in accordance with I. C. § 9-342 to ensure the record or information will not be used for a mailing or telephone list prohibited by law (I.C. § 9-348). However, by completing the Public Record Request Form details such as date and time received are documented in the event questions arise later. Furthermore, a copy of any records, materials, reports, correspondence, etc., transmitted to the requester should be attached to the form. If the material is too bulky or copying is not practical, a copy of the first page and/or a list of the enclosed materials and their source(s) should be attached to the form. The completed form and all accompanying materials shall be filed with the research analyst.
- Inter-Agency Requests. Any state agency requesting routine information about itself or another state agency may be handled by appropriate division staff without following the procedure outlined above.
- Private Sector Business and Quasi-Official Agencies and Organizations Requests. Any routine requests received from banks, credit unions, insurance companies, etc., may be handled and recorded as outlined (Reference A above) .
- Legislative, General Public, Media Requests. Any requests received from legislators, elected officials, legislative staff, congressional delegates, private individuals, newspapers, etc., shall be referred directly to the research analyst. If the research analyst is not immediately available, inform the requester of the research analyst's name and extension number (Research Analyst, ext. 8702).
NOTE: Requests may be received by mail, telephone, fax or in person. If the research analyst is away from the office for an extended length of time, (vacation, sick) and unable to respond in a timely fashion, please refer the requester to the appropriate division administrator for assistance. It is the responsibility of the staff person forwarding the request to record the date and time received and then follow up to make certain the research analyst or division administrator is aware of the request.
In most cases, the research analyst will refer requests to the appropriate division administrator or designated staff person for assistance. It is the responsibility of the research analyst to deliver the final product, log and maintain the records of the request.
IV. Compiling Information
It is the responsibility of the division administrator (or designee) to research and compile the necessary records, reports or data. It is extremely important that these requests be given priority so we can comply within the statutory three days requirement. If this cannot be accomplished, notify the research analyst immediately with an explanation of the reasons the records cannot be provided within that time limit. It will be the responsibility of the research analyst to notify the requester, in writing, of the delay.
NOTE: If additional time is needed, the law allows up to ten (10) working days following the date of the request.
V. Confidential and Exempt Records
Certain information contained in reports generated by this office must remain confidential (i.e. vendor identification numbers, social security numbers, etc.). Make certain all confidential information is deleted, redacted, blocked out or otherwise not visible before releasing to the public. Refer to I.C. § 9-340 for the list of records that are exempt from disclosure.
VI. Fees and Charges
It is legislative intent of the Act that examining and copying public records is part of the public business, already funded by taxpayers. Therefore, § 9-338(8) provides that the fee charged for copying " ...may not exceed the actual cost to the agency of copying the record...The actual cost shall not include any administrative or labor costs resulting from locating and providing a copy of the public record."
A fee for actual labor costs associated with locating and copying documents may be established and/or charged if (1) the document exceeds 100 pages or (2) non-public information must be deleted or (3) actual labor to locate and copy the record exceeds two (2) hours. EXCEPTIONS: The public agency may not charge any cost or fee if the requester demonstrates an inability to pay or the public's interest or understanding of operations of government would suffer by any assessment or collection of a fee. [I.C. § 9-338(8)(c)].
Necessary costs will be applied in compliance with the guidelines set forth in the Act. If a copying fee is to be charged, the following policies will apply:
- There shall be no charge for copying records less than 100 pages. A per page cost of five cents ($.05) will be charged for copied documents exceeding 100 pages.
- There shall be no charge for computer generated records less than 250 pages. A per page cost of two cents ($.02) will be charged for computer generated reports exceeding 250 pages.
- Postage costs shall be charged, if mailed.
- Payment is expected prior to releasing the public record. Payment shall be by cash or check only.
VII. AD-HOC/On-Demand Reports
Pursuant to attorney general opinion, June 1993, " ...when a member of the public requests public records in a form that does not yet exist and that may require computer programming to create, the agency may charge for the costs of the computer programming..."
The division administrator must make the determination whether the report requested requires computer programming and/or manipulation of data, necessitating certain computer costs to create. Such costs may be charged to the requester.
- When it is determined that an ad-hoc/on-demand report is necessary, the request should be submitted in writing to the division administrator. The division administrator will notify the research analyst immediately with an estimate of the cost. The research analyst will inform the requester who must make the decision to continue or discontinue the report processing.
- Postage costs shall be charged, if mailed.
- Payment is expected prior to releasing the ad-hoc/on-demand report. Payment shall be by cash or check only.