Posted on Sep 9, 1997 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 97-08
September 9, 1997
Requests for Government Records That Do Not Exist

Section 92F-3, Hawaii Revised Statutes, provides that a government record is information maintained by an agency in any physical form. The requester in this case sought a record memorializing a conversation; however, the agency asserted that the conversation was never reduced to writing. When a member of the public makes a request for a government record that does not exist, the UIPA does not apply. While the OIP advises that government agencies continue to maintain existing records when there is a pending UIPA request, they do not have a duty under the UIPA to create records nor to maintain records. Nevertheless, when an agency receives a request for a record, a reasonable search should be made for that record. A burdensome request does not excuse compliance with the UIPA.

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