OIP Reorganizes Opinions on WebsitePosted on Jul 26, 2012 in What's New
July 26, 2012
The state Office of Information Practices (OIP) has reorganized how opinions are grouped and reported on its website. To be consistent with the reporting period for OIP’s budget and annual reports, formal and informal opinions are now grouped on the website by fiscal year (FY), which runs from July 1 until June 30. FY 2013 began on July 1, 2012, and concludes on June 30, 2013.
Since its inception in 1989, OIP has issued a total of 848 opinions, of which 334 are formal opinions and 514 are informal opinions. Unless overturned by court decisions or new legislation, formal opinions have precedential value as to OIP’s interpretation and application of the Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA) and Sunshine Law. OIP’s website contains a chart, now listing by fiscal rather than calendar year, all formal opinions since 1989, with links to the summary and full text of each opinion. OIP’s website also has a subject matter index of formal opinions, where users can click on the appropriate link to do key word searches for relevant UIPA or Sunshine Law formal opinions.
Because of OIP’s existing body of formal opinions, informal opinions are increasingly being rendered because the legal questions raised by a dispute have often been previously resolved and discussed in formal opinions. Informal opinions are also issued when the legal opinion is based upon specific facts that limit the opinion’s usefulness for general guidance purposes. Informal opinions are not relied upon as precedent by OIP in issuing its formal opinions. Summaries of OIP’s informal opinions since FY 2009 can be found on OIP’s website; informal opinion summaries before that year are found in the annual reports, which have been posted on OIP’s website since 2000.
Finally, please note that a sentence in the first paragraph of last week’s What’s New article, originally sent on July 19, 2012, has been corrected on OIP’s website as follows: “OIP issued 25 total opinions in FY 2012 (including two formal opinions), as compared to 33 in FY 2011 (including five formal opinions).”
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