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Part 5. Financial Services
Section 5. Records Management
B. Public Access to Records (Updated 6/09)
The Idaho Public Records Act, Idaho Code Sections 9-337 through 9-348, hereinafter “the Act”, requires that all records maintained by public agencies be open to the public for inspection and copying at all reasonable times, unless the information is specifically exempted from disclosure by law.
Key terms are defined in the Act. Some of the law’s most important concepts are:
a. Public records — These include, but are not limited to, any writing containing information relating to the conduct or administration of the public’s business, prepared, owned, used or retained by a public agency. “Writing” means information maintained in many forms, including, for example, pictures, maps, tapes, magnetic or punched cards, and computer disks.
b. Inspect — This means the right to listen, view, and make notes of public records, as long as the public record is not altered or damaged.
c. Copy — This means transcribing by handwriting, photocopying, duplicating machine, and reproducing by any other means, so long as the public record is not altered or damaged.
d. Custodian — This means any public official or employee having physical custody and control of the public records, including those who respond to requests for information on a routine basis. “Custodian” also includes the person, whether elected or appointed, who is legally responsible for administering the public agency, or that person’s designee. “Designated custodians” are those employees authorized to perform specific responsibilities that are described in this policy, including denying requests for information when appropriate to do so.
3. Designated Custodians
The following persons are the designated custodians for the University:
Business and Financial Records: Vice President for Financial Services
Academic/Student Records: Director of Registration and Records
University Archives: Head of Special Collections
Personnel/Employment Records: Director of Personnel
Faculty Records: Vice President for Academic Affairs
The records exempt from disclosure are listed in Idaho Code Section 9-340. Among those which may be pertinent to the University are:
a. Any public record exempt from disclosure by federal or state law or federal regulations to the extent specifically provided for by such law or regulation. This would include among others, student educational records subject to the “Buckley Amendment”.
b. Trade secrets including those contained in response to public agency requests for proposals, requests for clarification, requests for information and similar requests. “Trade secrets” as used in this section mean information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, computer program, device, method, technique or process that:
(1) Derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use; and
(2) Is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.
c. Records, maps or other records identifying the location of archaeological or geophysical sites or endangered species, if not already known to the general public.
d. Records relating to the appraisal of real property prior to its acquisition, sale or lease by a public agency.
e. Any estimate prepared that details the cost of a public project until such time as disclosed or bids are opened, or upon award of the contract for construction of the public project.
f. Records gathered for the specific purpose of assisting a person to locate, maintain, invest in, or expand business operations in the state of Idaho.
g. The records of a library which, when examined alone, or when examined with other public records, would reveal the identity of the library patron checking out, requesting, or using an item from a library.
h. The material of a library, museum or archive which has been contributed by a private person, to the extent of any limitation that is a condition of the contribution.
i. Records of a personal nature as follows:
(1) Records of personal debt filed with a public agency pursuant to law;
(2) Personal bank records compiled by a public depositor for the purpose of public fund transactions conducted pursuant to law;
(3) Records of ownership of financial obligations and instruments of a public agency, such as bonds, compiled by the public agency pursuant to law;
(4) Records, with regard to the ownership of, or security interests in, registered public obligations;
(5) Vital statistics records.
j. Test questions, scoring keys, and other data used to administer a licensing examination, employment, academic or other examination or testing procedure before the examination is given if the examination is to be used again. Records establishing procedures for and instructing persons administering, grading or evaluating an examination or testing procedure are included in this exemption, to the extent that disclosure would create a risk that the result might be affected.
k. Computer programs developed or purchased by or for any public agency for its own use. As used in this subsection, “computer program” means a series of instructions or statements which permit the functioning of a computer system in a manner designed to provide storage, retrieval and manipulation of data from the computer system, and any associated documentation and source material that explain how to operate the computer program. Computer program does not include:
(1) The original data including, but not limited to, numbers, text, voice, graphics and images;
(2) Analysis, compilation and other manipulated forms of the original data produced by use of the program; or
(3) The mathematical or statistical formulas that would be used if the manipulated forms of the original data were to be produced manually.
l. Records of a personal nature related directly or indirectly to participation in an environmental or a public health study or to the application for and provision of statutory services rendered to persons applying for public care for the elderly or indigent, or persons with mental or physical disabilities.
m. Records of hospital care, medical records, records of psychiatric care or treatment and professional counseling records relating to an individual’s condition, diagnosis, care or treatment.
n. Personnel Information.
(1) The employment history, classification, pay grade and step, longevity, gross salary and salary history, status, work place and employing agency of any current or former employee are required to be disclosed to any person who requests the information.
(2) All other information relating to an employee or applicant, such as home address and phone number, shall not be disclosed to the public without the written consent of the employee, applicant or designated representative. Employees may inspect and copy their own records, except for material used to screen and test for employment.
5. Exempt/Non-Exempt Records
Records may contain both exempt and non-exempt material. The public agency is responsible for separating the exempt from the non-exempt information and supplying the non-exempt record. The Act prohibits denying access based upon the fact that the record contains both types of materials.
6. Procedure for Requesting Public Records
a. It is University policy to provide access to and copies immediately upon request whenever possible. Examination of records should be done during normal working hours, unless the person who administers the agency or a designated custodian authorizes otherwise. A certified copy, if feasible to produce or required by law, must be provided upon request.
b. The law prohibits asking why the information is needed. It is permissible to explain what records are available and to help identify the material that is desired. It is also permissible to allow the person to examine non-exempt files in order to select the specific records needed. Staff must maintain vigilance to see that records are not altered or destroyed, but the law prohibits examination of any copy, photograph or notes in the person’s possession.
(1) A written request will not be required if the information is routinely provided and is readily available.
(2) Whenever information is requested which is not routinely provided a written request may be demanded.
c. A request for records must be granted or denied within three(3) working days. If a longer time is needed to locate or retrieve the records, the requesting party shall provide a written request. The request must be granted or denied in whole or part within ten (10) working days. If no answer is provided within ten (10) working days, the request will be deemed to have been denied.
d. Based on reasonable cost, a fee will be charged for each photocopy provided. The Act does not require the University to provide multiple copies of the same document. The Act permits public agencies to charge for the cost of copying records, plus applicable sales tax. The fee may vary if the amount of pages requested is significant and/or if copies are furnished from other sources, i.e., microfiche, CD-Rom or other digital and electronic devices.
Costs for mailing of requested copies shall be paid by the requesting party. A request, advance payment, and a stamped, self-addressed envelope large enough for the number of copies is required.
7. Inspection and Correction of an Individual’s Records
After providing identification, an individual may inspect, copy and request correction of public records pertaining to that person, except those portions of records that are exempt from disclosure. A correction, or a written refusal to make the correction, must be made within ten (10) calendar days.
8. Denial of Request
a. If a request for a record is denied in whole or in part, the Act requires the designated custodian to notify the person in writing. This notice shall state that:
(1) the University’s attorney has reviewed the request, or that the University had the opportunity to consult with an attorney and has chosen not to do so;
(2) the statutory basis for the denial;
(3) a simple statement of the right to appeal and the time limit for appeal; and
(4) a certificate of mailing.
b. If a request to correct an individual’s record is denied, written notification is required within ten (10) calendar days of the receipt of the request. The notice of refusal to amend a record must state the reasons for the refusal, and provide the statement of appeal rights and certificate of mailing mentioned above.
c. The time limit for filing an appeal is 180 days from the date the notice of denial is mailed. The sole remedy for protesting the University’s decision is to file a petition in the district court of the county where the records or some part of them are located, requesting the court to compel the University to make the information available or to correct the record.
d. If a request is denied, the requested records must be retained until the end of the appeal period, until there has been a decision on an appeal, or as otherwise provided by law, whichever is longer.
9. Penalty and Immunity
The law provides a penalty of up to $1,000.00 for a deliberate, bad faith denial of information that should be disclosed. It also provides immunity from liability for the release of records as long as there is a good faith attempt to comply with the law’s requirements.