U Memo 15-2

Posted on Nov 17, 2014 in Informal Opinions - UIPA Opinions

U Memo 15-2
November 17, 2014
List of Nominees

Environment Hawaii asked whether the Office of the Governor is required under the UIPA to disclose lists of nominees (Lists) for two vacant positons provided to the Governor by the Nominating Committee for the Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM). Specifically, the requester asked whether the Lists are public after the Governor has made his appointments and after confirmation by the Senate. OIP concluded that the Governor’s Office may withhold the Lists under section 92F-13(1), HRS, the UIPA’s exception to disclosure for records which, if disclosed, would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. An unsuccessful applicant to a government position has a significant privacy interest in the applicant’s application information, including his or her name, as set forth in section 92F-14(b)(4), HRS. This significant privacy interest must be balanced against the public interest in disclosure. HRS § 92F-14(a) (2012). Given the long-standing policy of not disclosing the applicant lists, and the absence of a public interest in evaluating the competence of persons who are not appointed, OIP concluded that the significant privacy interests of applicants to the CWRM outweigh the public interest in the Lists, and the Governor’s Office is not required to disclose the Lists.

The Governor’s Office may also withhold the Lists under section 92F-13(3), HRS, the UIPA’s exception to disclosure for records which, if disclosed, would cause the frustration of a legitimate government function. The legitimate government function here is in obtaining a qualified pool of applicants, which could be frustrated by disclosure of the Lists because the number of applicants would likely decline if individuals knew the fact that they applied would be made public.

OIP noted, however, that the Governor’s Office should disclose the names of individuals who were appointed, as well as names of unsuccessful applicants who have publicly disclosed the fact that they applied.