Posted on May 10, 2018 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Ltr. F18-02
May 10, 2018
Tsunami Inundation Maps

Requester sought tsunami inundation maps, which were withheld by the State Department of Defense, Civil Defense Division (CDD), on the basis that the records were confusing to the public and must be confidential in order for the government to avoid frustration of a legitimate government function.  See HRS § 92F-13(3) (2012).

OIP determined that even though there has been public confusion as to the difference between tsunami inundation maps, tsunami evacuation zone maps, and flood hazard zone maps, that confusion does not mean that public disclosure of the information could reasonably be expected to cause damage to public security, as was argued by CDD.  See OIP Op. Ltr. No. 07-05 at 3.  Disclosure of the tsunami inundation maps would also promote the UIPA’s purposes of providing for accurate government records and enhancing governmental accountability.  See HRS § 92F‑2(2012).  While it may require time and resources on the part of CDD to respond to public questions and to educate the public as to the difference between a tsunami evacuation zone map and a tsunami inundation map, responding to public questions and educating the public is one of the functions of a government agency and does not constitute a frustration of a legitimate government function.  See HRS § 92F-13(3).  Thus, the tsunami inundation maps do not fall under the UIPA’s frustration exception or any other exception to disclosure, and must be disclosed.

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