Posted on Aug 7, 2003 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 03-15
August 7, 2003
UH Animal Care Advisory Committee

Records of the University of Hawaii’s Animal Care Advisory Committee (“ACAC”) are subject to the UIPA. The University of Hawaii (“UH”) is a government agency subject to the UIPA; thus, records pertaining to the ACAC maintained by UH are subject to the UIPA. UH has research facilities that use live animals. In order to receive federal grants for research, schools conducting live research are required to create committees like UH’s ACAC which are tasked with monitoring the research facilities and reporting to the federal agency providing the funding.

The ACAC is also an agency subject to the UIPA because, although federal law requires the creation of the ACAC in order for UH to receive federal funding for research projects, it was UH’s choice to accept federal money and thus to subject itself to the federal Animal Welfare Act and other laws. Therefore, records maintained by the ACAC must be disclosed unless any UIPA exceptions to disclosure apply. Names of ACAC members are also public.

At the time of the opinion, it had not yet been determined and the OIP had not been asked to decide whether the ACAC is required to comply with the Sunshine Law. For boards that are subject to the Sunshine Law, sections 92-9 and 92F-12, HRS, require that meeting minutes be public. Section 92F-12, HRS, would not authorize UH or the ACAC to withhold from disclosure any part of the minutes of public meetings if the ACAC is ultimately deemed subject to the Sunshine Law. Until that issue is determined, past minutes of the ACAC meetings should be available to the public, subject to the exceptions to disclosure in section 92F-13, HRS.

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