U Memo 19-1Posted on Jul 13, 2018 in Informal Opinions - UIPA Opinions
U Memo 19-1
July 13, 2018
Reasonableness of Search
Requester sought access to copies of “public records that have been sent to or received from the Federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation” by the Kauai County Clerk. The Clerk’s Office responded in a letter, which stated that a thorough review of records had been conducted but no responsive records were found and suggested that Requester contact the Kauai County Planning Department as it may have responsive records. Requester appealed.
When a requester contests an agency’s response stating that no responsive records exist, OIP normally looks at whether the agency’s search for responsive records was reasonable. OIP Op. Ltr. No. 97-8 at 4-6. A reasonable search is one “reasonably calculated to uncover all relevant documents” and an agency must make “a good faith effort to conduct a search for the requested records, using methods which can be reasonably expected to produce the information requested.” Id. at 5 (citations omitted). In response to this appeal, the Clerk’s Office explained that the Council Services Division’s Records Section conducted a thorough search of all records sent to or received from the Federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. The search included a word search for “Federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation” of all electronic records, and a manual search of all indexes related to hard copy records (those not available electronically). No responsive records were found. Based on the information provided by the Clerk’s Office, it does appear that appropriate staff conducted a reasonable search for records sent to or received from the Federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in the locations where any responsive records were mostly likely to have been found. OIP therefore found that the County Clerk’s search for records was reasonable, and its response to Requester’s request was proper under the UIPA.