U Memo 18-5

Posted on Apr 20, 2018 in Informal Opinions - UIPA Opinions

U Memo 18-5
April 20, 2018
Hippopotamus Records

A Requester asked OIP for a decision as to whether the Department of Enterprise Services of the City and County of Honolulu properly denied access under Part II of the UIPA to veterinary records and “all” other records of a hippopotamus named Louise owned by the Department of Enterprise Services, Honolulu Zoo (Zoo), and records pertaining to the acquisition or disposition of all hippos by the Zoo.

The UIPA requires that all Hawaii state and county government records are public, unless an exception in section 92F-13, HRS, applies.  Section 92F-13(4), HRS, which allows an agency to withhold records made confidential by law, is inapplicable for Louise’s veterinary records because they are not protected by a confidentiality statute.

The “frustration” exception at section 92F-13(3), HRS, was not invoked by the Zoo and thus is inapplicable for this request.  Nonetheless, for future requests for veterinary records, OIP notes the “frustration” exception may permit, but not require, the Zoo to withhold the veterinary records in instances when disclosure would result in the actual frustration of a legitimate government function.  Such a determination must be made on a case-by-case basis.

The Zoo did not provide sufficient justification to withhold access to hippopotamus acquisition and disposition records, and to “all” other records about Louise the hippo.  Having failed to meet its burden to justify denials of access, the Zoo is required under the UIPA to provide these records to Requester, subject to Requester’s payment for search time and copying or inspection costs.