U Memo 24-02

Posted on Aug 30, 2023 in Informal Opinions - UIPA Opinions

U Memo 24-02
August 30, 2023
Reasonable Search for Lease Successorship Document

Requesters requested copies of the successorship document reflecting their two minor sons as the successors to the lease (Successorship Document) from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL).  DHHL denied the request on the basis that it did not maintain the records and stated that the requested record did not exist.  Requesters appealed the denial to OIP.

When a requester contests an agency’s response to a record request which states 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).

Based on the information provided by DHHL, OIP found that DHHL conducted a reasonable search for the Successorship Document in the locations where any responsive electronic records and physical files were mostly likely to have been found.  OIP therefore concluded that DHHL’s search for records was reasonable, and its response to Requesters’ request was proper under the UIPA.