RRS Guidance: Determining Access Classification

RRS Guidance: 
Determining Access Classification

Who reports records on the RRS?
When an agency is reporting its records on the Records Report System (“RRS”), the best person to do the reporting is an employee in that agency who is familiar with the records being reported. This may very well be the “custodian of records” in that agency, or the “officer in charge” of the record.

Clerical staff will be able to complete many of the fields in the report, but supervisory staff are normally best qualified to complete the legal fields (see the note at the end of the Data Entry Instructions). Access classification is one of the legal fields that should be determined by a supervisor in the agency that maintains and is reporting the record.

Five access classifications:
To report whether a type of record is normally accessible to the public or not, there are five possible classifications:

  • PUBLIC – public access is usually required.
  • CONFIDENTIAL – public access usually not permitted.
  • CONFIDENTIAL/CONDITIONAL – access permitted only to those persons, or under those conditions, described by specific statute(s), or
  • CONFIDENTIAL/CONDITIONAL – access permitted to public after segregation (redaction) of information protected from disclosure by an applicable UIPA exception.
  • UNDETERMINED – access will be determined at a later date.

The access classification refers only to the general accessibility of a record title. Note that a particular record of a publicly accessible type could ultimately be subject to redaction or withholding by the agency if that record contains information made confidential by law. Similarly, if a record title has been designated as confidential by the agency, a particular record of that type may nevertheless be subject to disclosure under the law. Unless requested, OIP does not review the RRS data for accuracy, including whether a record title should be classified as public or confidential or whether a particular record should be disclosed under the UIPA.

How to determine a record’s access classification:

To determine a record’s access classification, follow the Uniform Information Practices Act (Modified), Chapter 92F, Hawaii Revised Statutes (“UIPA”).

Remember the general rule, that all records are considered public unless they are protected by one of the five exceptions to disclosure. In addition, Section 92F-12 presents a long list of types of records that are always public.

The five exceptions to disclosure are found in Section 92F-13:

1) Government records which, if disclosed, would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;

(2) Government records pertaining to the prosecution or defense of any judicial or quasi-judicial action to which the State or any county is or may be a party, to the extent that such records would not be discoverable;

(3) Government records that, by their nature, must be confidential in order for the government to avoid the frustration of a legitimate government function;

(4) Government records which, pursuant to state or federal law including an order of any state or federal court, are protected from disclosure; and

(5) Inchoate and draft working papers of legislative committees including budget worksheets and unfiled committee reports; work product; records or transcripts of an investigating committee of the legislature which are closed by rules adopted pursuant to section 21-4 and the personal files of members of the legislature. [L 1988, c 262, pt of §1; am L 1993, c 250, §1]

Section 92F-14 states that “Disclosure of a government record shall not constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy if the public interest in disclosure outweighs the privacy interests of the individual.” Section 92F-14 also gives many examples of information in which the individual has a significant privacy interest. The most common examples are an individual’s home address, home telephone number, and social security number.

Tips for reporting a record’s access classification on the RRS:

1. Browse the RRS to see how other agencies in your department, or in other departments, have reported the same record title, or similar records.

2. On the RRS, look at the State of Hawaii Executive Agencies records. The OIP added these 339 common State records to the RRS as examples of how to report records. The OIP staff attorneys determined an access classification for each of these records.

3. If the agency is unable to identify or establish an access classification for the record being reported, then select “Undetermined – access will be determined at a later date.” Use this classification sparingly, for those more perplexing cases, and only after contacting an OIP staff attorney for assistance.