U Memo 11-9

Posted on Nov 3, 2010 in Informal Opinions - UIPA Opinions

U Memo 11-9
November 3, 2010
OHA Employee Salary Information

Requester asked whether the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) must disclose the names, titles, and salaries of all OHA employees (Salary Information) in response to a request made under part II of the UIPA.

OHA asked for guidance in light of OHA’s unique funding, which results in its employees’ salaries being paid either fully or primarily with funds derived from the public land trust described in HRS § 10-3. OHA argued that these monies from receipts derived from ceded lands flow directly to OHA, do not belong to the State, and thus are not public funds. OHA thus more specifically asked whether its employees whose salaries are paid in full or in part with these trust funds, i.e., not “public funds,” are considered “public employees” for purposes of the UIPA’s disclosure requirements.

The UIPA requires an agency to disclose the names, titles and salaries (or salary range for covered employees) for all present or former officers or “employees of the agency,” except present or former undercover law enforcement personnel. HRS § 92F-12(a)(14) (emphasis added). 
OIP found that the phrase “employees of the agency” is not ambiguous, and that its common and ordinary meaning includes all individuals employed by the agency without regard to what funds are used to pay their salaries. Moreover, this meaning is consistent with the purposes and policies of the UIPA. See HRS § 92F-2.

OIP thus found that a plain reading of HRS § 92F-12(a)(14) provided no basis to differentiate among various agency employees based upon whether or not their salaries are paid by their employing agency from general funds.