The Georgia Open Records Act is a state law requiring public records be open and available for inspection by any interested member of the public. While there are some specific exceptions, most of the institution’s records are subject to public scrutiny. The complete text of the Act can be found at http://sos.georgia.gov/archives/who_are_we/rims/best_practices_resources/open_records_act.htm
The questions and answers below are meant to serve only as a
brief overview of how the Act affects University employees and is not meant to
be all inclusive of every aspect of the Act.
Employees are strongly encouraged to read the Act and to consult it when
necessary. The director of Institutional
Research has been designated as the Open Records Officer for
OPEN RECORDS Q & A
What is a public record?
The term public record means all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, computer based or generated information, or similar material prepared and maintained or received in the course of the operation of a public office or agency.
‘Public Records’ also mean such items received or maintained by a private person or entity on behalf of a public office or agency which are not otherwise subject to protection from disclosure. The Code section addressing private persons or entities is construed to disallow an agency’s placing or causing items to be placed in the hands of a private person or entity for the purpose of avoiding disclosure.
Does the Open Records
Act apply to
Yes, because ASU is a public agency.
Who may make an Open Records request?
Any member of the public has a right to inspect or take extracts or make copies from public records, instruments, or documents. The requestor does not have to invoke the phrase “Open Records request,” nor does the requestor have to give reason why he or she wants to inspect requested records.
Does an Open Records request have to be made in writing?
While an office or agency can ask that the request be put in writing to ensure understanding of what is being requested and to document the request, the law does not require such requests be in writing.
What is the institution obligated to do?
The institution must make the requested records available for inspection by the requestor. The individual in control of the requested record or records shall have a reasonable amount of time to determine whether or not the records requested are subject to the Act and to permit inspection and copying, if desired by the requestor. In no event shall this time exceed three business days. Where records exist but are not available within three business days of the request, a written description of such records, together with a timetable for their inspection and copying, shall be provided within that three day period.
What is the institution not obligated to do?
No public officer or agency shall be required to prepare reports, summaries, or compilations not in existence at the time of the request. It may, however, be easier to prepare a summary or compilation than to redact non-requested information or information that is exempt from the Act.
What are examples of ASU records subject to the Open Records Act?
Are any ASU records exempt from the Open Records Act?
Yes. The most common would be:
· Individual student records as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
· Medical or veterinary records and similar files, the disclosure of which would be an invasion of personal privacy;
· Records compiled for law enforcement or prosecution purposes if disclosure would identify a confidential source or disclose a confidential investigation, or endanger the life or physical safety of someone
· Confidential evaluations submitted to, or examinations prepared by, a governmental agency and prepared in connection with the appointment or hiring of a public employee; and records consisting of material obtained in investigations related to the suspension, firing, or investigation of complaints against public employees until ten days after the same has been presented for action or the investigation is otherwise concluded.
· Real estate appraisals, engineering or feasibility estimates, or other records made for or by the state or a local agency relative to the acquisition of real property until such time as the property has been acquired or the proposed transaction has been terminated or abandoned.
· An individual´s social security number, mother´s birth name, credit card information, debit card information, bank account information, financial data or information, and insurance or medical information in all records, and if technically feasible at reasonable cost, day and month of birth, which shall be redacted prior to disclosure of any record requested pursuant to this article; however, such information shall not be redacted from such records if the person or entity requesting such records requests such information in a writing signed under oath by such person or a person legally authorized to represent such entity which states that such person or entity is gathering information as a representative of a news media organization for use in connection with news gathering and reporting; and provided, further, that such access shall be limited to social security numbers and day and month of birth.
What if it costs us money to comply with a valid request?
A reasonable charge may be collected for search, retrieval, and other direct administrative costs for complying with a request under this Code section. The hourly charge shall not exceed the salary of the lowest paid full-time employee who, in the discretion of the custodian of the records, has the necessary skill and training to perform the request; provided, however, that no charge shall be made for the first quarter hour.
Any agency receiving a request for public records shall be required to notify the party making the request of the estimated cost of the copying, search, retrieval, and other administrative fees authorized by Code Section 50-18-71 as a condition of compliance with the provisions of this article prior to fulfilling the request as a condition for the assessment of any fee; provided, however, that no new fees other than those directly attributable to providing access shall be assessed where records are made available by electronic means.
What happens if a valid request is not honored?
The Code provides for “any person knowingly and willfully violating the provisions of this article by failing or refusing to provide access to records not subject to exemption from this article or by failing or refusing to provide access to such records within the time limits set forth in this article shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $100.00.”
Where can I read the entire Code?
Who can I contact if I have questions?
Call the Office of Institutional Research at 737-1492 or email firstname.lastname@example.org