Posted on Oct 6, 1995 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 95-24
October 6, 1995
Summaries and Factual Information from Management Opinion Survey
Disclosable Verbatim Comments and Opinions Are Confidential

The OIP considered public access to a report which surveyed the effectiveness, productivity, and employee satisfaction of state agencies. Under the UIPA, the survey participants had a significant privacy interest regarding personal recommendations or evaluations contained within the Survey Report. However, as disclosure of this information would shed light on the government’s operations and working conditions, the OIP concluded that the personal recommendations or evaluations could not be withheld under the disclosure exception in section 92F-13(1), Hawaii Revised Statutes.

The OIP also considered whether disclosure of survey participants’ comments and opinions, contained within the Survey Report, would frustrate a legitimate government function under section 92F-13(3), Hawaii Revised Statutes. The OIP observed that disclosure of these verbatim comments, which were predecisional and deliberative, might “chill” the candid exchange of opinions which, in turn, might affect the quality of agencies’ decision making. Thus, under UIPA disclosure exception 92F-13(3), the agency would not be required to disclose participants’ verbatim comments. However, summaries and aggregate information within the Survey Report which were not linked to any individual did have to be disclosed because this primarily factual information, if disclosed, would not “chill” future responses to surveys or otherwise impair the quality of agencies’ decision making.

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