Effect of Current Budget Restrictions on OIP Operations

Posted on Jul 1, 2011 in What's New

Similar to many state agencies, OIP has had a reduction in staff and staff hours and may be facing further budget restrictions in the coming months. To provide assistance to the greatest number of individuals, boards, and agencies requesting OIP’s services, OIP is instituting measures that it believes will best utilize its limited resources to fulfill its broad mission to provide legal guidance and assistance to the public as well as all state and county boards and agencies under both the State’s public records law and open meetings law.

Advisory Opinions:
In an effort to address a backlog of UIPA appeals and Sunshine Law complaints while providing timely assistance to current requests, OIP will issue abbreviated opinions to resolve requests where OIP’s reasoning is based upon prior, published OIP opinions. Full legal opinions will be given where OIP believes it appropriate to provide guidance on issues or specific records not previously addressed in a published opinion.

Advisory opinions will also be issued for appeals made under the UIPA. As discussed below, the Hawaii Supreme Court has affirmed a court challenge to an OIP determination of an appeal concerning the disclosure of executive meeting minutes. Neither the ICA nor the Supreme Court, however, provided a clear statement delineating when a court challenge may be brought. Because of this potential for diversion of OIP’s already limited resources, the time demands to issue determinations, and current staffing constraints, OIP will, in the immediate future, only provide advisory opinions to address UIPA appeals from agency denials of access to any government record.

Any person who wishes to seek enforcement of the UIPA’s disclosure requirements where an agency has denied access to a government record may bring an action in court. Where the complainant prevails, the court will assess against the agency attorney’s fees and other expenses reasonably incurred in the litigation. An OIP advisory opinion is admissible in such an action.

OIP will continue to provide training on the neighbor islands and for smaller groups on Oahu, but the number of training slots available will be more limited. OIP has produced a video for basic Sunshine Law training, which will be posted on this website by fall of 2011.

Educational Materials:
All of OIP’s educational materials are available for downloading on OIP’s website. Very limited quantities of printed materials will be available for distribution.