Public Records Act Training Presentation March 2014 post

Report
PUBLIC RECRDS 101
Top Ten Things
Every Employee
Must Know About
the Public
Records Act
Presented by: Amanda Davis Simpfenderfer
SCCD Public Records Officer
What is the Public Records Act
Requires that most records maintained by state, county, city governments,
and all special purpose districts be made available to members of the
public.
Public records disclosure statutes apply equally to "every county, city, town,
municipal corporation, quasi-municipal corporation, or special purpose
district or any office, department, division, bureau, board, commission, or
agency thereof, or other local public agency.
The definition of what is a "public record" is quite broad. The definition of
"writing" is also broad. Papers, photos, maps, videos, and electronic
records are all covered by the Public Records Act.
PRA 101
Employees Are Ethically Required to Know
•
Personal Legal Obligation: “No state officer or state
employee may intentionally conceal a record if the officer
or employee knew the record was required to be
released under [the PRA.]” RCW 42.52.050.
•
Agency Liability: “An agency’s compliance with the
Public Records Act is only as reliable as the weakest
link.” P.A.W.S. v. UW, 125 Wn.2d 243, 269 (1994).
•
Legal Duty Under the PRA: All employees must help
locate records and must be able to identify requests
PRA 101
#1 Strong Public Mandate in Favor of Open Government
• Passed by Initiative in 1972
• All records of an agency
are presumed to be
subject to disclosure
• Agencies must respond
promptly and provide fullest
assistance to requesters
PRA 101
#2 You May Have to Help Process a PRA Request
• If a Records Request is made to you
• If you are named in the Records
Request
• If the Records Requested are in your
possession
PRA 101
#3 Agencies Must Disclose at Almost No Cost
• No fee for inspection
• No charge for search time
• May charge for copying, scanning from hard
copy to electronic copy, or sending large
amounts of documents via CD
PRA 101
#4 PRA Compliance Is a Team Effort
•Public Records Officer
•Records Custodians
•IT Staff
•Agency Attorney
•Executive Staff
PRA 101
#5 Listen to Your PRO
Public Records Officer is following a
game plan
Fully trained in legal requirements
Customer oriented
PRA 101
#6 Pays to Embrace the Public Records Act
•
Embracing your duties under the PRA leads to
better compliance
• A bad attitude can cost you
• Disliking or complaining about the request
doesn’t lessen the responsibility to comply
PRA 101
• NEW $0 to $100 per day per request
• No proof of damages required
• Attorney fees and costs
PRA 101
Significant Penalties
• Mason County $175,000 & $135,000
• DSHS $525,001 (3 x $175,000)
• City of Monroe $157,000
• City of Prosser $175,000
• Jefferson County $42,000
• King County $360,000 in Yousoufian –
Supreme Court held $124,000 was
TOO low
PRA 101
#7 PRA Requires “Prompt Response”
Three Tasks Your Public Records
Officer Must Complete Immediately
1. Start tracking request
2. Notify record holders
and IT (records preservation)
3. Start generating the 5-day response
PRA 101
Generating the 5-day Response
You must take 1 of 4 actions in 5 days:
1. Deny request
2. Fulfill request by providing documents
(may fulfill by providing a link to the document on
the web)
3. Reasonable time estimate
4. Request clarification
PRA 101
“Reasonable” Time Estimate Based on:
• Size of request
• Location of records/number of custodians
• Likelihood of exemptions and redactions
• Available staff, number of other requests
• An agency can revise its estimate
PRA 101
#8 All Records Presumed to Be Public Records
A public record is:
1. Any writing
2. Relating to the conduct / performance of any
governmental or proprietary function
3. Prepared, owned, used, or retained by a public
agency
“nearly any conceivable government
record related to the conduct of government.”
O’Neill v. City of Shoreline, 170 Wn.2d 138 (2010).
PRA 101
Types of Records
Traditional Records
• Letters
• Contracts
• Resolutions
Electronic Records
• Emails
• Word documents
• Spreadsheets
• PDFs
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Calendars
Evaluations
Public comment forms
Photographs, videos
and MP3s
Databases
Voicemails
Text Messages
Social Media
PRA 401: ElectronicPRA
Records
101
Personal Computers and Email Accounts
Work-related records are public
records wherever they are located,
including:
• Records saved on home
computer
• Emails sent to or from personal
email accounts
PRA 101
#9 Agencies Must Conduct a Broad Search for Records
1. All locations and sources you would reasonably
expect to find responsive records
2. Re-assess and update search criteria
PRA 101
#9 Agencies Must Conduct a Broad Search for Records
Where do you search?
Email
Central File Server
Calendars
Thumb Drives
Laptops and
Desktops
PDAs
Drawers
Cell Phones
•
Emails
•
Central server
•
Calendars
•
Desktops & Laptops
•
PDAs
•
Cell phones
•
Thumb drives
•
Drawers
•
Off-site storage
PRA 101
Retention and Creation Matter
• If you don’t create it, you don’t have to produce it
• If you know where you put it, it’s a lot easier to find
• If you’ve properly deleted it, you won’t have any
liability under the PRA …
•
http://www.sos.wa.gov/_assets/archives/RecordsManagement/
SGGRRS5.1.pdf
… as long as there was no pending request!!
PRA 101
Specific
Exemption
Required
PRA 101
ONLY WITHHOLD A
RECORD WHEN IT
WILL SERVE THE
PUBLIC INTEREST
PRA 101
Personal Privacy
Commercial
Efficient Government
Taxpayer
Public Safety
PRA 101
Agencies must allow
records to be examined
“even though such
examination may cause
inconvenience or
embarrassment to public
officials or others”
RCW 42.56.550(3)
PRA 101
Exemptions Allowed Under the Public Records Act
1) Student Records
2) Attorney Client Privilege
6) Public Employees – Personnel
Files
3) Attorney Client Work Product
7) Personal Financial Information
4) Public Employees –
8) Social Security Numbers
Applications
9) Systems Security
5) Public Employees – Personal
Information
PRA 101
When You Must Withhold You Still Must Disclose
Silent
Withholding
Provide Basic
Identifying Information
PRA 101

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