On March 16, 2020, the Uniform Information Practices Act (Modified), chapter 92F, HRS (UIPA), was temporarily suspended in its entirety and the Sunshine Law, part I of chapter 92, HRS, was partially suspended by the Supplemental Memorandum of Governor Ige, The March 16 Supplemental Memorandum was extended until May 31, 2020 by the Governor’s Sixth Supplementary Proclamation dated April 25, 2020. Because the UIPA was suspended in its entirety, OIP’s powers and duties found in part IV of chapter 92F, HRS, were also suspended.
On May 5, 2020, with the Governor’s Seventh Supplementary Proclamation for Covid 19 (SP 7) (see Exhibit H on pages 73-75), OIP’s powers and duties found in part IV of the UIPA were restored, except that the UIPA and OIP’s rules “are suspended to the extent they contain any deadlines for agencies, including deadlines for the OIP, relating to requests for government records and/or complaints to OIP.” The partial suspensions of the Sunshine Law and UIPA were continued in subsequent proclamations, the latest being the Governor’s Twelfth Supplementary Proclamation (SP12), which remains in effect until September 30, 2020, unless terminated or extended by a separate proclamation. (See Exhibit G of SP 12.)
As the COVID-19 virus has become a global pandemic and a serious threat to the health and welfare of our state’s population, the Governor’s orders were issued to give government the maximum flexibility to focus its attention and personnel resources on directly addressing the immediate situation at hand. When the situation is stabilized and there is proper leeway to redirect those resources, the partial suspension of these laws will be lifted.
In the meantime, with the substantial restoration of its powers and duties, OIP can now open certain new cases and issue opinions again. However, OIP still cannot accept appeals based on causes of action dependent on alleged violations of the portions of the UIPA and Sunshine Law that are suspended and therefore not in effect. Moreover, because agencies are currently not required to follow the deadlines for responses to OIP’s inquiries, case resolution will be delayed until after the laws and deadlines are fully reinstated.
Despite the suspension of the UIPA’s deadlines, Exhibit G of SP 12 clearly states that “[a]gencies must acknowledge receipt of UIPA requests. If a request is not acknowledged, the requester may ask the Office of Information Practices to verify that the agency received the UIPA Request.” (Emphasis added.) OIP may open a Request for Assistance (RFA) case to verify agency receipt of a record request, but requesters should still be aware that OIP does not maintain the records of other agencies and all deadlines for OIP and agencies have been suspended by Exhibit G. Therefore, requesters still may not receive the government records they are seeking from the agencies until a later date, unless they exercise their right to file court actions.
OIP has continued throughout this emergency period to provide its Attorney of the Day service, which promptly responds to Sunshine Law and UIPA questions. For fastest service, questions should be submitted by email to [email protected]. While email remains the preferred method of contact, OIP can also be reached by phone at (808) 586-1400, fax at (808) 586-1412, or postal mail or in person at 250 S. Hotel Street, Suite 107, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96813.
OIP also continues to provide updated guidance and open government news in its What’s New articles. If you are not already receiving these emails directly from OIP, you can ask to be added by providing your email address to [email protected]. Archived copies of these articles are posted on the What’s New page at oip.hawaii.gov.
OIP thanks the public and government agencies for their patience and understanding during this challenging time. OIP urges government agencies and boards to also do what they can to keep the public informed and, to the extent possible, allow for remote participation at public meetings using technology, such as livestreaming, teleconferencing, or other forms of online virtual meetings. OIP’s Tips for Holding a Virtual Public Meeting and other guidance can be found on OIP’s Sunshine Law or Training pages. OIP also wants to learn from your experiences during this crisis and is collecting comments through August 31, 2020, about how the open government laws may be amended to provide for greater public access using technology – please see the What’s New article on May 14, 2020, OIP Collecting Comments for Draft Legislation.
Mahalo everyone, and please stay healthy!
Welcome to the website of the Office of Information Practices (OIP), whose mission is
“ensuring open government while protecting individual privacy.”
OIP administers two laws to promote open and transparent government in Hawai’i:
- the Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA), HRS Chapter 92F, which requires open access to government records, and
- the Sunshine Law, part I of HRS Chapter 92, which requires open public meetings.
Both laws are intended to open up governmental processes to public scrutiny and participation by requiring government business to be conducted as transparently as possible, while balancing personal privacy rights guaranteed under the Hawaii State Constitution.
OIP provides uniform interpretation, advice, and training on these laws to nearly all of Hawaii’s state and county agencies and boards and to the general public. OIP renders advice and assistance on questions concerning the public’s right to access to government records or meetings, and also provides training to help agencies comply with the laws. Although the public has the right to go to court without having to involve OIP, it is not necessary to hire attorneys or observe judicial formalities to obtain OIP’s assistance, and OIP’s free and informal proceedings are not subject to the contested case procedures of HRS Chapter 91.
To explain the open government laws’ requirements, OIP has training tools and guides readily available on this website. Training materials and OIP’s annual reports are posted on this website and there are links to other open government agencies around the world. In the What’s New section, OIP regularly provides updates on its activities and has links to open government news from around the world. To begin or stop receiving OIP’s e-mailed What’s New updates, please e-mail [email protected].
Through OIP’s Attorney of the Day service, members of the public or government agencies can e-mail [email protected] or call (808) 586-1400 to receive (usually within 24 hours) general, non-binding advice regarding the UIPA or Sunshine Law. If further action is necessary, OIP may conduct an investigation. When access to a public record has been denied by a government agency, the requester may file an appeal with OIP. OIP also renders formal or informal opinions, which are enforceable by the courts. OIP’s opinions, including a searchable subject matter index for UIPA opinions, and a searchable subject matter index for Sunshine Law opinions, can be found on this website, along with the laws, rules, and various forms.
In addition to the UIPA and Sunshine Law, OIP administers the Records Report System (RRS), a computerized database (without the actual records) describing the more than 29,000 record titles of the various types of government records maintained by state and county agencies that may be available for public access. OIP also trains and assists agencies to use the UIPA Record Request Log and uploads their Log summaries to the State’s centralized website at data.hawaii.gov.
Through this website, you have access to a wealth of open government information and OIP is able to cost-effectively and efficiently share the knowledge of its experienced staff members to encourage greater awareness of and compliance with Hawaii’s UIPA and Sunshine Law. For an overview of the website’s features, click on this link. Thank you for visiting OIP’s website and we hope that you will find most of the answers to your open government questions here.
If you require an auxiliary aid or accommodation due to a disability, please contact (808) 586-1400 or e-mail [email protected]. OIP will strive to return your initial call or e-mail by the end of the next business day.