Policies and Procedures for Responding to Open Records Requests
Adopted January 2000
Revised February 2011
When the legislature amended the Georgia Open Records Act, it brought about significant consequences for the University of West Georgia as well as all state-supported colleges and universities. In the amended Act, nearly all records held by UWG are accessible to any citizen who requests them. In order to comply with the law and to continue our efforts in providing reliable and useful information to our community, it is the intention of the administration to make these records available, when appropriate, in a non-adversarial, open manner.
The Department of Institutional Research and Planning is responsible for administering the University's compliance with the Open Records Act. However, this law also places important responsibilities on all University administrators or staff members to ensure that they understand the policies and procedures associated with compliance and to help eliminate unnecessary barriers to the records which the law entitles them access. The procedures outlined in this document are offered as an aid in determining, in a timely manner, whether the requested records exist, whether they fall under the law, and how to make them quickly accessible to the requestor.
Procedures for handling Open Records Requests
Any University employee receiving a request for records held under his/her individual or departmental responsibility should immediately notify the Open Records Officer by emailing email@example.com and contact the Institutional Research and Planning Office by phone. According to the Act, UWG only has three business days to respond to the request.
Office Phone: 678-839-6449 Office Fax: 678-839-4765 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- While a request does not necessarily have to be in writing, the requestor may submit a formal, written request if they so desire. The individual or department receiving the request may ask for the request to be in writing for documentation purposes, but the requestor does not have to comply. It is mandatory, however, that the individual or department receiving the request, create written documentation if the request is not in written form.
- The written request or the created documentation (if a written request is unavailable) should be dated and the time request was received. Then, the person receiving the request must contact email@example.com or the Institutional Research and Planning Office.
- If the Open Records Officer requests records held by an employee or department, all of those records must be provided without redaction. It is strongly advised to provide all of the documents requested to the Open Records Officer otherwise that employee will be violating the Georgia Open Records Act. The Open Records Officer, with guidance from the University's Legal Counsel, will determine if the records are subject to disclosure.
- The Open Records Officer will contact the requestor directly to determine what information is desired, and which records will provide that information. The Open Records Officer will then contact the administrator/s responsible for that information to determine whether the records exist, how voluminous they might be, and how much time might be required to search and assemble them. The Open Records Officer and the administrator/s will also determine the most economical way of retrieval for both the requestor and the institution as defined by law.
- If the answer is a simple one and the records are minimal, the University will try to respond immediately and completely on the first day. With more complicated requests, the University will respond within three business days of the original request as required by law, and the requestor will be notified in writing of the following:
- The existence of records
- The cost of searching, assembling and copying (to be paid in advance)
- The expected and approximate date of completion
- The requestor is then asked whether the University should proceed with the request. If the answer is affirmative, the department will be notified to assemble the records and provide them to the Department of Institutional Research and Planning within the expected date of completion.
- When a request is made directly to the administrator/s holding the records in question, he/she may complete the request if it is considered to be routine. Routine requests are those that are made on a regular basis by a single requestor, the same type of records requested by different individuals, or both. If an administrator fulfills a routine request, a copy of the request must be given to and approved by the Open Records Officer before action is taken, and all documentation concerning the request should be sent to the Open Records Officer after the request has been completed. Due to the nature and redundancy of certain requests, individuals may secure from the Open Records Officer a pre-approval waiver.
- If the information requested is protected under the Open Records Act, the Open Records Officer will contact the requestor in writing, citing the portion of the Act which gives the University legal grounds for denying the request.