U Memo 17-8Posted on Jun 30, 2017 in Informal Opinions - UIPA Opinions
U Memo 17-8
June 30, 2017
Obligation to Provide Original Records
Requester made a request by e-mail on behalf of herself and her husband to the State Ethics Commission (SEC) for the original letters written by the SEC’s director to her husband dated October 24, 2014, and sent by e-mail at 12:18 pm and 12:29 pm. The SEC provided a copy of the requested letters, but declined to provide the originals. It informed Requester that “[t]he original documents are part of the agency’s records and, therefore, are not available to you.” Requester appealed the denial.
In response to this Appeal, the SEC asserted that section 92F-11(b), HRS, requires an agency to allow “inspection and copying” of records, but does not require an agency to provide a requester with its original records. The relevant portions of the UIPA clearly support SEC’s position that the UIPA allows inspection and copying, but does not require agencies to provide original records in response to UIPA requests. See HRS §§ 92F-11a), -(b), and -(d).
In addition, OIP previously ruled that, under the UIPA, there are no requirements that the original ‘official’ record be provided to a requester. OIP Op. Ltr. No. F15-03 at 6-7 (finding that the University of Hawaii was not required, under the UIPA, to provide a former student with certified or original records). OIP therefore found that Part II of the UIPA does not entitle Requester to the original letters that were used for the e-mail to her husband.
OIP noted that the responsive records are the personal records of Requester’s husband. Even if Requester’s husband had made a personal record request under Part III of the UIPA, the SEC would not have been required to provide the original letters to him. Section 92F-23, HRS, requires that, “[u]pon request of an individual to gain access to the individual’s personal record, an agency shall permit the individual to review the record and have a copy made[.]” See also OIP Op. Ltr. No. F15-03 at 6-7 (emphasis added) Part III of the UIPA does not provide personal record requesters with the right to obtain original agency records about them. OIP. Op. Ltr. No. F15-03 at 6 (emphasis added).