Public Records Requests and Complainant Confidentiality POLICY #: 100-27 ISSUED: January 18, 2001 EFFECTIVE: January 18, 2001
POLICYKey elements of the Public Records Act (Government Code, Section 6250 et seq.), and subsequent Attorney General interpretations and court decisions that apply to requests for public records from this Department include the following, cited directly from these sources: "Any person may receive a copy of any identifiable public record or copy thereof. Upon request, an exact copy shall be provided unless impracticable to do so." "Each agency, upon any request for a copy of records, shall determine within 10 days after the receipt of such request whether to comply with the request and shall immediately notify the person making the request of such determination and the reasons therefor. "Except with respect to public records exempt by express provisions of law from disclosure, each state or local agency, upon any request for a copy of records, which reasonably describes an identifiable record, or information produced therefrom…. Any reasonably segregable portion of a record shall be provided to any person requesting such record after deletion of the portions which are exempt by law." Government agencies "may charge a fee for the direct cost of duplication." This direct cost of duplication includes copy machine costs and the costs of personnel time to make the copies. It "does not include ancillary tasks necessarily associated with the retrieval, inspection, and handling of the file from which the copy is extracted." IMPLEMENTATION To implement these elements of the Public Records Act, the Department has developed the following procedures: General Procedures:
In order that the requirements stated herein apply to a request for information, the request must be made in writing and be dated.
The request must reasonably describe an identifiable public record. If the request is too vague to describe an identifiable record, then it is possible that the request may not fall under the rubric of the Public Records Act.
Charges for responding to requests that qualify under the Public Records Act must be limited to the actual cost of copying, as defined in Departmental Policy #100-23 (Charge Per Copy for Standard Documents). If a request does not qualify under the Public Records Act because it does not reasonably describe an identifiable public record, then the request may instead qualify as research, for which the Department is authorized to charge an hourly fee. Check with your supervisor, the Director, or the Fiscal Administration Manager when in doubt.
Charges for responding to requests that qualify under the Public Records Act may not include ancillary charges such as fax charges, staff time to handle the file (other than direct photocopying time), or staff time spent deleting confidential portions.
Upon receipt of a written request for public information, the request should be forwarded to the manager/supervisor of the division to which the subject matter pertains. The Manager should determine within ten (10) days after the receipt of the request by the Department whether to comply with the request, and shall respond in writing under the Director's signature to the person making the request of such determination and the reasons therefor. That letter will include the public information requested, or will note the approximate length of time to produce the requested information and a statement of cost per page for reproduction if applicable.
While not specifically required by the Public Records Act, the Department will make every attempt to provide the information requested within 30 to 60 days after receipt of the request.
While not specifically exempt by the Public Records Act, it is this Department's policy to withhold information that would identify a complainant except by court order. The court order must specifically state that complainant-identifying information must be provided. The purpose of this policy is to preserve the integrity of the complaint process as a means to complete the Department's mission to protect the public health and safety. To release complainant information without a court order's specific request to do so may have the effect of discouraging complainants from reporting violations, for fear of recrimination, thus obstructing this Department's mission.
Procedure that applies to "receipts" provided to the Department pursuant to Section 8.44.020(B) of The Naturally Occurring Asbestos and Dust Protection Ordinance, No. 4548 ("Ordinance")
COMPLIANCE Failure to comply with this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.