Georgia is an open records state, which means records of state agencies, including the University of West Georgia, are subject to public disclosure.

Please click the following link for information on the Georgia Open Records Act (PDF)

As allowed by state law, the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment is the designated, central open records office for the University of West Georgia. The Associate Vice President for the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment serves as the University's Custodian of Records. The Open Records Officer is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Georgia Open Records Act and coordinating the University’s response to open records requests, subpoenas, and requests for production of documents.

The University requires all written record requests be made upon the duly appointed Open Records Officer listed below. The 3-day response period begins when the Officer receives the written request.

If you would like copies of public records, as allowed under the Act, please submit a request via the online submission form (PDF) or by emailing openrecords@westga.edu (email).

All written requests containing personally identifiable information such as social security numbers, date of birth, etc., shall be sent by mail or fax.

  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Georgia Open Records Act (O.C.G.A §50‐18‐70)

    The frequently asked questions below serve as a brief overview of the Georgia Open Records Act (GORA) as it relates to the public and University employees.

    All questions about the Act itself, or how to respond to a request for records, contact the Open Records Officer at 678‐839‐6449.

    1. What is the Georgia Open Records Act (GORA)?
      A state law requiring that public records, except those exempted from disclosure, to be open and available for inspection by any member of the public.

    2. What is the purpose of the Open Records Act?
      The purpose of the Open Records Act is both to encourage public access to information and to foster confidence in government through openness to the public.

    3. What is a public record?
      A "public record" means all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, computer based or generated information, data, data fields, or similar material prepared and maintained or received by an agency or by a private person or entity in the performance of a service or function for or on behalf of an agency or when such documents have been transferred to a private person or entity by an agency for storage or future governmental use.

    4. Does the Open Records Act apply to the University of West Georgia?
      Yes, all state‐supported colleges and universities, including UWG, are public agencies and are subject to the Act..

    5. Who may request records under the Open Records Act?
      Any member of the public has a right to inspect, take extracts, or make copies from public records, instruments, and documents. The requester does not have to invoke the phrase “Open Records Request,” nor give a reason why he/she wants to inspect records.

    6. Do Open Records requests have to be made in writing?
      No. While an office or agency may ask for a written request to ensure understanding and for documentation of the type of records requested, the law does not require it to be in writing.

    7. What is the institution obligated to do and not to do?

      The University must provide access to existing public records in its custody or under its control, including those the University created or received in the course of its operation.

      The University is not required to create a record which does not exist at the time of the request. While the Act states that we may not be required to compile requested information into a single document (i.e., additional analysis, programming, data manipulation or formatting), the Georgia Attorney General advises the University make every reasonable attempt to comply with these requests.

    8. What are examples of UWG records subject to the Open Records Act?

      ·         Personnel files, including but not limited to performance evaluations, training, applications for employment. Exempt material such as social security numbers, medical information, financial, or information relating to the designation of beneficiaries, shall not be disclosed.

      ·         All emails sent or received using UWG email (@westga.edu) accounts and equipment.

      ·         All electronic or “hard copy” information held or stored under the custody or control of the University (these may include but not limited to records stored on CD-ROM, DVD, thumb drives, removable hard drives, magnetic media, laptops, internet servers, Google drives, Dropbox, etc.).

    9. Are any UWG records exempt from the Open Records Act?
      Yes, there are exemptions that have been interpreted very narrowly by the courts. The law presumes all records are open and places the burden on the University to demonstrate that any requested materials are exempt. If a public record contains both exempt and non‐exempt material, the exempt portion must be removed and the remaining non‐exempt material disclosed.

    10. Are student or treatment records subject to disclosure under the Open Records Act?
      Under federal law, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), student educational and treatment records are not subject to disclosure. However, student directory information may be disclosed under the Georgia Open Records Act as it is an exception under FERPA.

    11. What are the associated charges for a valid request?
      An agency may charge for the search, retrieval, redaction, and other direct administrative costs. The fee shall not exceed the prorated hourly salary of the lowest paid, full‐time employee who, at the discretion of the Custodian of Records, has the necessary skills and training to perform the request, provided no charge shall be made for the first quarter hour. Copying fee of .10 per page or cost of the media.

    12. What happens if a valid request is not honored?
      Any person or entity knowingly and willfully violating this Act by failing or refusing to provide access to records not subject to exemption, by knowingly and willingly failing or refusing to provide access to such records within the time limits set forth, or by knowingly and willingly frustrating or attempting to frustrate the access to records by intentionally making records difficult to obtain or review shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000.00 for the first violation. Alternatively, a civil penalty may be imposed by the court in any civil action brought against any person who negligently violates the terms of this article in an amount not to exceed $1,000.00 for the first violation.

    13. What obligation does the Open Records Act place on the University of West Georgia?
      UWG must provide access to existing public records in its custody or under its control, including those the University created and those, received during its operation. We are not required to create a record that does not exist at the time of the request. We are not required to compile information into a single document.

    14. As a University System employee, what is my responsibility to preserve public records?
      Once a record is the subject of a request, those records shall not be erased, shredded, otherwise disposed of, or altered under penalty of law.

    15. Will the University notify employees named in a request that records will be disclosed?
      While there is no such requirement in the law, the University may notify employees whose personnel files are requested under the open records act.

    16. Is there a time element in complying wih the Open Records Act?
      Yes. There is a 3-day response deadline. It is the responsibility of employees to comply with University policy and procedures to ensure there is no delay in this notification. Therefore, it is critical to notify the Open Records Officer upon receipt of any open records request.

    17. In connection with my duties at the University of West Georgia, what should I do if I receive a legal document (summons, subpoena, etc.)?
      Immediately call University General Counsel (678) 839-5306 or the Open Records Officer (678) 839-6449.

    18. In connection with my duties at the University of West Georgia, what should I do if an attorney contacts me?
      Direct the attorney to the University General Counsel (678) 839-5306 or the Open Records Officer (678) 839-6449. Then notify those offices of the contact.

    19. In connection with my duties at the University of West Georgia, what should I do if I receive a request under the Georgia Open Records Act?
      Contact the Open Records Officer (678) 839-6449 and immediately forward the request to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment, Sanford Hall, Room 112.
    20. In connection with my duties at the University of West Georgia, what should I do if I receive a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?
      The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is the federal government's equivalent of GORA and applies to requests for information made to federal agencies. Each agency may have its own rules about handling FOIA requests. Therefore, the University follows the same process as it does when responding to GORA requests.
  • Open Records and Reimbursement Processes

    Adopted January 2000
    Last Revised July 2018

    Open Records Process

    There is no legal requirement that an Open Records request must be in writing. Employees must create documentation when a verbal request is received. The document must contain date/time of request, description of records requested, and the requester’s contact information. Forward document to Open Records Officer.

    Within three business days of receiving the request, the Open Records Officer will:

    • notify the requester of the existence of records,
    • provide a cost estimate for search, assembly, copies, and
    • obtain authorization to proceed with responding to the request.

    Records shall be provided in their entirety without redaction to the Open Records Officer upon request. Failure to comply may result in penalties for the university employee under the provisions of the law. The Open Records Officer, in consultation with University General Counsel, will determine for the institution if records are subject to the Act.

    Reimbursement Process

    For departments/units to be eligible for reimbursement from monies collected in response to Open Record Requests, the following conditions must be met:

         1. Submit Open Records Reimbursement Sheet (GORA-02)* (PDF) with documents responsive to the request,

         2. Total department/unit dollar amount to transfer is greater than fifty dollars ($50), and

         3. Total dollar amount of the completed request is greater than fifty dollars ($50).

    The Open Records Officer may waive charges of less than one dollar ($1).

     

    *Effective January 2019 - Submission of Open Records Reimbursement Sheet required for reimbursement. For UWG Departmental use to request reimbursement for administrative fees in response to Open Records Requests.

  • Violation of the Act and the Grievance Process
    Violation of the Act

    The University of West Georgia (UWG) will acknowledge receipt of the request in writing within three business days of receipt and shall produce for inspection all records responsive to an open records request. UWG is not required to produce records if such records did not exist at the time of the request. If records are unavailable within three business days of receipt of the request, and responsive records exist, the agency shall provide the requester with a description of such records and a timeline for when the records will be available. (See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-71 (b) (1) (A))

    If access to such records is denied in whole or in part, the University is required to state in writing the specific legal authority exempting the records from disclosure, by Code, section, subsection, and paragraph.

    Since the University has an appointed Open Records Officer, the three-day period for response shall not begin until the Officer receives the written request. (See O.C.G.A.§ 50-18-71 (b) (2))

    Any person or entity knowingly and willfully violating the provisions of this article by failing or refusing to provide access to records not subject to exemption from this article, by knowingly and willingly failing or refusing to provide access to such records within the time limits set forth in this article, or by knowingly and willingly frustrating or attempting to frustrate the access to records by intentionally making records difficult to obtain or review shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000.00 for the first violation. Alternatively, a civil penalty may be imposed by the court in any civil action brought pursuant to this article against any person who negligently violates the terms of this article in an amount not to exceed $1,000.00 for the first violation. (See O.C.G.A § 50-18-74 (a))

    Grievance Process

    If your request is denied, make sure the agency has put the denial in writing, setting out the legal basis upon which they claim the denial is justified. From here, you have several options:

    ask the Office of the Attorney General to prosecute that person for a misdemeanor under the Act if you believe that a person has knowingly and willfully violated the Act by refusing to provide access to non-exempt records; or file a lawsuit in a local superior court to enforce compliance.

  • Forms

    Open Records Submission Form (GORA-01)*  (PDF)

    Open Records Reimbursement Sheet (GORA-02)  (PDF)
              For UWG Departmental use to request reimbursement for administrative fees in response to Open Records Requests

     

    *Effective January 2019 - Submission of Open Records Reimbursement Sheet required for reimbursement.

revised July 2018

How to Use the Fillable PDF Forms on this page
  • PDF Forms REQUIRE Adobe Acrobat Reader, a freely distributed program available over the internet.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader software is already downloaded and available on most campus computers. However, if it is not currently available, it may be downloaded for free. It is available for various Operating Systems such as Windows, Macintosh, OS2, UNIX, etc. Email or call (678-839-6587) the campus help desk to help locate, download, and install the appropriate software. 
  • Forms are only fillable if accessed using the Chrome web browser. If using other browsers, download to the form to a local drive, complete the form, then use the convenience buttons on the form to Print, Submit, or Clear.
  • After opening a PDF fillable form, click inside a text box to place the cursor in an available field for entering data. Enter the requested information, then use the Tab key to move to the next field.
  • Once the form has been completed, use the "buttons" on the form to Print, Submit, or Clear. 
              Print: Sends the document, containing the data, to the printer of choice.
              Submit: Sends the data-filled document to the appropriate recipient.
              Clear: Clears data from form
  • To save the form on a local drive:
              Windows: right mouse button click
              Macintosh: click and hold on the link. The 'context sensitive menu' will appear.
    Click on "Save Link As...." or "Save Target As...." to save it to the desired location.