OIP Issues New Memo Opinions

Posted on Mar 3, 2016 in Featured, What's New

The state Office of Information Practices (OIP) has issued two memorandum opinions regarding exceptions to disclosure under the Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA).  As informal opinions, the decisions bind the parties, but will not be relied upon as precedent by OIP.

In U Memo 16-2, Requester sought access to various records from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) concerning a request for proposals for a land license, which was not executed as DHHL planned a re-solicitation of proposals.  After conducting an in camera review of the withheld records, OIP determined that DHHL properly denied disclosure of records that were maintained prior to the execution of the land license because the disclosure would cause “frustration of a legitimate government function” by providing Requester with a manifestly unfair advantage and causing substantial harm to the competitive position of other potential applicants in the planned re-solicitation for the land license.  Under this “frustration” exception found at section 92F-13(3), HRS, of the UIPA, OIP further concluded that DHHL properly withheld intra-agency memoranda that are predecisional and deliberative in nature and fell within the deliberative process privilege.  OIP concluded, however, that disclosure was required of some records after the applicants’ identifying information was redacted and of an outline of the interview process that was read almost verbatim to all applicants.

In U Memo 16-3, Requester sought a decision as to whether the University of Hawaii’s Office of Judicial Affairs (UH-JA) properly denied, under Part III of the UIPA, Requester’s request for a copy of his personal records that UH-JA maintained about him.  OIP found that UH-JA is subject to the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. § 1232g and 34 CFR Part 99, which, if not complied with, would put UH’s federal funding in jeopardy.  As FERPA does not prohibit UH-JA from providing Requester with access to Requester’s “education record,” OIP concluded that the UIPA requires UH-JA to provide Requester with a copy of the records that he had requested.

OIP also found that some records that Requester sought were joint education records of Requester and another student under the UIPA, which are considered joint personal records under Part III of the UIPA and may be disclosable using the analysis explained in OIP Opinion Letter Number F13-01.  Under FERPA, however, personally identifiable information about another student may not be disclosed and thus, OIP concluded that the other student’s name was properly withheld from disclosure.  OIP further noted that Requester’s own personally identifiable information in the form of his social security number, date of birth, and age should not be redacted from the records provided to Requester.

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