Posted on Jul 10, 2024 in Featured, What's New

The State Office of Information Practices (OIP) issued two formal opinions and four informal opinions before the end of the 2024 fiscal year. The formal opinions and summaries of all these opinions can be accessed through the Opinions Page at and by clicking the links below.

 OIP Op. Ltr. No. F24-06:  A requester sought copies of documents related to an insurance case against him from the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA).  OIP concluded that DCCA could generally withhold the responsive records because DCCA’s Insurance Fraud Investigations Branch was an agency that had activities pertaining to the prevention, control or reduction of crime as a primary function and compiled the records for the purpose of a criminal investigation, because the responsive records were “investigative reports and materials” related to an ongoing investigation against the requester, and because section 431:2-409(b), Hawaii Revised Statutes, authorizes DCCA to withhold “complaints and investigation reports” and “working papers of examinations, complaints, and investigation reports” if the Insurance Commissioner deems doing so prudent.  However, OIP concluded that DCCA must disclose copies of correspondence that was either from the requester or his attorney or addressed to the requester or his attorney.

OIP Op. Ltr. No. F24-07OIP concluded that the Department of Budget and Finance (B&F) properly disclosed redacted copies of records as directed in U MEMO 18‑12, and that B&F properly responded to Requester’s two subsequent requests.  B&F did not improperly destroy responsive records prior to the issuance of U MEMO 18-12, because at the time of destruction, the records were not the subject of a pending record request.  B&F properly maintained the requested records that were the subject of a prior appeal while the appeal was pending, and its staff conducted a reasonable search for records.  As to the fees charged by B&F, OIP found that B&F’s final tally of hours to search for, review, and segregate records was not excessive.  As to itemization of fees, OIP concluded that the itemization requirement in OIP’s administrative rules is satisfied when an agency indicates what record request each portion of the bill pertains to and how much of the amount chargeable for each request is respectively due to search, review, and segregation time (with the amount of time indicated) or to other lawful fees (with an explanation of each type of cost such as postage or copy charges and a multiplier as appropriate).  OIP concluded that B&F met its obligation to “provide an itemized bill of fees assessed” to Requester under OIP’s administrative rules.

S Memo 24-02: OIP agreed with the conclusion by the Honolulu Neighborhood Commission Office (NCO) that an email sent by a neighborhood board member to the NCO but also sent via blind copy to other members of the same neighborhood board did not violate the Sunshine Law, because it did not discuss board business.

S Memo 24-03: The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Board of Directors (HART) violated the Sunshine Law when three members discussed board business by email outside of a noticed meeting in one instance, but did not violate the Sunshine Law in a separate instance because the email communication merely forwarded factual information without comment.  In addition, HART was found to have a deficient agenda item that lacked specificity as to what HART intended to discuss at a meeting.  However, emailed questions from two HART members to HART’s attorney as to what could and could not be done under the Sunshine Law did not show an intent to evade the Sunshine Law’s provisions on openness.

U Memo 24-09: A requester sought a 2012 visitor sign-in sheet from a DOE elementary school. OIP concluded that DOE conducted a reasonable search for the sign-in sheet in locations where the responsive record would likely to have been found, and the custodian of records had actual knowledge that the school did not maintain visitor sign-in sheets from previous school years in either physical or electronic form.  OIP further concluded that DOE established that it did not maintain the visitor sign-in sheet and met its obligations under the UIPA.

U Memo 24-10: Two requesters sought copies of the departmental identification photographs of police officers who were facing criminal charges at the time of the arrest due to their involvement in a shooting.  OIP found that in the specific circumstances presented the public interest in the identification photographs outweighed the officers’ significant privacy interest in them such that the UIPA’s privacy exception did not apply, so the photographs must be disclosed.