As calendar year 2018 comes to an end, Hawaii’s Office of Information Practices (OIP) has posted its Annual Report for fiscal year 2018 on the Reports page at oip.hawaii.gov. With only nine employees, OIP is the single, statewide agency that administers the open records and open meetings laws applicable to all state, county, and independent agencies, and most boards, in all branches of government – executive, legislative, and judicial. OIP is a neutral agency providing uniform advice to government employees, volunteer board members, and the general public.
Following a record 40.4% increase in the number of formal requests for assistance that were filed in FY 2017, OIP fortunately had a return to the norm in FY 2018 with 182 new formal case filings, of which nearly 71% (129) were closed in the same year. Because of the respite in new case filings, and despite the time-consuming work required to draft new administrative rules, OIP was able to reduce its formal case backlog by nearly 13%, and it has continued since the end of FY 2018 to further bring down the number of pending formal cases to about 100. As in past years, OIP typically responded in FY 2018 to the 945 Attorney of the Day informal requests for assistance within 24 hours, so it closed 95% of all formal and informal requests for its assistance in the same year, if not the same day.
In addition to resolving these formal and informal requests for assistance, OIP wrote 23 opinions regarding the UIPA or Sunshine Law in FY 2018. OIP also added or revised nine training materials and conducted six live training sessions, primarily to educate agencies and the public about the July 2018 changes to the Sunshine Law and to obtain public input on OIP’s draft administrative rules for the processing of UIPA record requests, even before the formal rulemaking process has started. OIP tracked or testified on 93 bills and resolutions, monitored 28 lawsuits, and provided 25 What’s New articles or interviews to keep the public informed of open government issues.
OIP is now busy finalizing two reports summarizing the state and county agencies’ UIPA Record Request Logs for FY 2018, which it will post online soon on its UIPA Reports page at oip.hawaii.gov.