Late yesterday, most of OIP’s powers and duties were reinstated by Governor David Ige’s Seventh Supplementary Proclamation issued on May 5, 2020 (SP7), which is now posted on OIP’s website. SP7 continues to partly suspend both the state’s Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA) (Chapter 92F, HRS), and the Sunshine Law (Part I of Chapter 92, HRS), but limits the suspension of the UIPA only to the extent that it contains deadlines for agencies, including deadlines for OIP.
Previously, OIP’s powers and duties, which are set forth in part IV of the UIPA, had been suspended by the Governor’s Supplementary Proclamation of March 16, 2020 that applied to the UIPA in its entirety. That order was extended until May 31, 2020 by the Sixth Supplementary Proclamation dated April 25, 2020.
With SP7’s restoration of most of its powers and duties, OIP is now able to open certain new cases and will be issuing opinions. However, OIP still cannot accept appeals based on causes of action dependent on alleged violations of the portions of the UIPA and Sunshine Law that are suspended and therefore not in effect. Moreover, because agencies are currently not required to follow the deadlines for responses to OIP’s inquiries, case resolution will be delayed until after the laws and deadlines are fully reinstated. The Governor’s latest order will remain in effect until May 31, 2020, unless otherwise amended.
Despite the suspension of the UIPA’s deadlines, Exhibit H to SP7 clearly states that “[a]gencies must acknowledge receipt of UIPA requests. If a request is not acknowledged, the requester may ask the Office of Information Practices to verify that the agency received the UIPA Request.” (Emphasis added.) OIP may open a Request for Assistance (RFA) case to verify agency receipt of a record request, but requesters should be aware that OIP does not maintain the records of other agencies and all UIPA deadlines for OIP and agencies have been suspended by SP7. Therefore, requesters still may not receive the government records they are seeking from the agencies until a later date, unless they exercise their right to file court actions.
With stay-at-home orders continuing in effect for the public, OIP is not providing in-person services at its office. OIP has an assigned Attorney of the Day to respond to Sunshine Law and UIPA questions, which should preferably be submitted by email to [email protected]. OIP is also responding to telephone inquiries, but the staffing adjustments may make phone calls more likely to go to voice mail and take longer to be returned. While email remains the preferred method of contact, OIP can also be reached by phone at (808) 586-1400, fax at (808) 586-1412, or postal mail at 250 S. Hotel Street, Suite 107, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96813.
OIP is reviewing SP7’s Exhibit H and will provide updated guidance in future What’s New articles. If you are not already receiving these emails directly from OIP, you can ask to be added by providing your email address to [email protected]. Archived copies of these articles are also posted on the What’s New page at oip.hawaii.gov.
OIP thanks the public and government agencies for their patience and understanding during this challenging time. OIP urges government agencies and boards to also do what they can to keep the public informed and, to the extent possible, allow for remote participation at public meetings using technology, such as livestreaming, teleconferencing, or other forms of online virtual meetings. OIP’s Tips for Holding a Virtual Public Meeting and other guidance can be found on OIP’s Sunshine Law or Training pages.
Mahalo everyone, and please stay healthy!