Posted on May 5, 2005 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 05-12
May 5, 2005
Samples of Live Organisms

The State Laboratories Division (“SLD”) of the Department of Health asked the OIP for an opinion regarding whether SLD must provide samples of live organisms, specifically bacteria isolated from submitted food or patient specimens, in response to a request made under the UIPA.

OIP advised SLD that, under the UIPA, the term “government record” must be construed to be information that is written, stated, inscribed, or otherwise recorded in any medium. Accordingly, OIP concluded that the term “government record,” as it is used in the UIPA, does not encompass samples of live organisms and, therefore, release of these samples is not governed by its provisions. It is only when information gleaned from these samples is recorded in a physical form maintained by a government agency that a “government record” would exist for purposes of triggering the disclosure requirements of the UIPA.

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