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· Rules and Regs Governing the SPC

 


Ronald Renaud
Chairperson

 

 

 



RULES AND REGULATIONS GOVERNING
ACCESS TO PUBLIC INFORMATION
DEPARTMENT OF ADMINISTRATION
  1. AUTHORITY

    1.1 Title 38, Chapter 2 of the Rhode Island General Laws as amended, entitled Access to Public Records.

    1.2 Section 42-11-2 entitled Powers and Duties of the Department.

  2. PURPOSE

    2.1 To establish rules and regulations to fully implement Chapter 2 of Title 38 concerning access to public records held by the Department of Administration.

    2.2 To identify and safeguard categories of records exempt from disclosure; and

    2.3 To provide Department of Administration personnel and the public with regulations and procedures for public records access.

  3. POLICY

    It is the policy of the Department of Administration that its files and records shall be available for inspection by members of the public to the fullest extent possible and consistent with:

    1. the Department's responsibility to pursue effectively its regulatory and other official activities.
    1. the rights of individuals to privacy,
    1. the rights of persons and legal entities to confidential treatment of proprietary information, and
    1. the need of the Department for frank, unimpeded internal policy deliberations.
  1. PUBLIC RECORDS DEFINED

    4.1 "Public record" or "public records" shall mean all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, or other material regardless of physical form or characteristics made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency, subject to the exemptions listed in 38-2-2(d).

    4.2 The statement of purpose of the Access to Public Records Law indicates that while the intent of the law is to facilitate public access to governmental records, it also intends to protect from disclosure information about particular individuals maintained in department files when such disclosure would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

  2. EXEMPTIONS

    5.1 All files and records of the Department are available for public inspection and copying unless they are specifically exempted by these regulations or their disclosure is prohibited by state or federal law, or by order of a court of competent jurisdiction.

    The following categories of files and records, or information in such files and records of the Department are specifically exempt from disclosure:

    1. All records which are identifiable to an individual applicant for benefits, clients, patient, student or employee; including, but not limited to, personnel, medical treatment, welfare, employment security, and pupil records and all records relating to a client/attorney relationship and to a doctor/patient relationship and all personal or medical information relating to an individual in any files, including information relating to medical or psychological facts, personal finances, welfare, employment security, student performance, or information in personnel files maintained to hire, evaluate, promote or discipline any employee of the Department; provided, however, with respect to employees, the name, gross salary, salary range, total cost of paid fringe benefits, gross amount received in overtime and other remuneration in addition to salary, job title, job description, dates of employment and positions held with the state, work location, business telephone number, the city or town of residence and date of termination shall be public. RIGL 38-2-2(d)(1).

    2. Trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person, firm, or corporation, which is of a privileged or confidential nature.

    3. Any records which would not be available by law or rule of court to an opposing party in litigation.

    4. Reports and statements of strategy or negotiation involving labor negotiations or collective bargaining.

    5. Any minutes of a meeting which are not required to be disclosed pursuant to chapter 46 of title 42.

    6. Preliminary drafts, notes, impressions, memoranda, working papers and work products.

    7. Test questions, scoring keys and other examination data used to administer a licensing examination, examination for employment or promotion or academic examinations provided, however, that a person shall have the right to review the results of his or her examination.

    8. Correspondence of or to elected officials with or related to those they represent, and correspondence of or to elected officials in their official capacities.

    9. The contents of real estate appraisals, engineering or feasibility estimates and evaluations made for or by an agency relative to the acquisition of property or to prospecive public supply and construction projects, until such time as all of the property has been acquired or all proceedings or transactions have been terminated or abandoned, provided by law of eminent domain shall not be affected bt this provision.

    10. All tax returns.

    11. All investigatory records of public bodies pertaining to possible violations of statute, rule or regulation other than records of final actions taken provided that all records prior to noncompliance shall not be deemed to be public.

    12. Records of individual test scores on professional certification and licensing examinations, provided, however, that a person shall have the right to review the results of his or her examination.

    13. Requests for advisory opinions until such time as the Department issues its opinion.

    14. Records, reports, opinions, information and statements required to be kept confidential by federal or state rule or court, or regulation or state statute.

    15. Reports and statements of strategy or negotiation with respect to the investment or borrowing of public funds, until such time as those transactions are entered into.

    16. All other specfically exempt records, as described in RIGL 38-2 and amendments thereto.
  1. COMMERCIAL USE OF PUBLIC RECORDS

    6.1 No person or business entity shall use information obtained from public records pursuant to this regulation to solicit for commercial purposes or to obtain a commercial advantage over the party furnishing that information to the Department.

    6.2 Anyone who, knowingly and willfully, violates the provision of this section, shall, in addition to any civil liability, be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500.00) and/or imprisonment for no longer than one year. (38-2-7).

  2. DISCLOSURE AND NONDISCLOSABLE INFORMATION

    If a record contains both disclosable and nondisclosable information, the disclosable portion will be released unless that portion cannot reasonably be segregated from the rest of such record, in which case the record will not be disclosed.

  3. PROCEDURE FOR REQUESTING PUBLIC INFORMATION

    8.1 A request for inspection of copying of public records shall be presented, in writing, to the appropriate division of the Department during the ordinary business hours of the Department, on forms provided by the Department. The request must reasonably describe the records to be sought in a way that will permit their identification and location by Department personnel. At the discretion of the Director, the Deputy Director, the Associate Directors, the State Personnel Administrator, or the Department's Legal Counsel, the requirements of a formal request may be waived. A written record of al requests shall be maintained within each division.

    8.2 If the description of records sought in the request is not sufficient to allow the Department to identify and locate the requested records, the Department will notify the individual requesting the information that additional information is needed.

    8.3 The Department will make every reasonable effort to honor the request within the ten (10) working days of receipt of the form as specified herein.

    8.4 Failure to comply with a request to inspect or copy the public record within the ten (10) business day period shall be deemed a denial. For good cause, this limit may be extended for a period not to exceed thirty (30) business days.

    8.5 Nothing herein shall be construed as requiring the Department to reorganize, consolidate, or compile data not otherwise maintained by the Department in the form requested. If records requested directly relate to a departmental employee, prior to turning those documents over to the person requesting such, the Department will provide five (5) days prior written notice of the request to the employee. Such notice shall not extend the period within which the Department must respond to a requestor.

    8.6 If a requested record is in active use or in storage and, therefore, not available at the time the record is requested, the requestor shall be so informed. The custodian of the record shall make an appointment for the requestor to examine such records as expeditiously as they may be made available. In no case shall the time of examination exceed thirty (30) days from the orginal request.

  4. HOURS OF INSPECTION

    All records made available pursuant to these regulations may be inspected during the normal business hours of the Department. The Director may restrict access to specified times and days, consistent with these Rules, if it is determined that this is necessary or appropriate to prevent unnecessary disruption of the Department's work.

  5. APPEALS PROCESS

    10.1 If the record is not made available for inspection, the requestor will be notified of the reason(s) for denial within ten (10) business days of the request. Failure to comply with a request to so inspect or copy such a public record within the ten (10) day period shall be deemed a denial. The person requesting such will also be informed that he or she may appeal the denial to the Director of Administration.

    10.2 If an appeal is made to the Director of Administration and a denial is upheld, the appellant will be informed of the reason(s) within ten (10) business days after the submission of the review petition.

    10.3 If the Director approves of the record's disclosure to the requestor, the Director's office will arrange for a time and place for the inspection of the record.

    10.4 If the Director denies an appeal, the appellant may file a complaint with the Attorney General or may retain private counsel for the purpose of instituting proceedings for injunctive or declaratory relief in the Superior Court of the County where the record is maintained.

  6. FEES

    11.1 Official publications which the Department prepares in the discharge of its duty to inform the public on matters of general public interest shall be furnished free of charge when available.

    11.2 The Department will supply one (1) copy of its rules and regulations to an individual requesting same free of charge. Rules and regulations of the Department are also on file at the Office of the Secretary of State and certified copies thereof may be obtained from that office.

    11.3 The Department may charge a fee of fifteen cents (.15) per page and an hourly rate of fifteen dollars ($15.00) for time spent searching and copying all other public records, as defined herein. If the time spent on such searching and copying is less than thirty (30) minutes no fee for search and retrieval shall be charged. Copies on paper larger than 8.5" x 14", or made available on media different than that on which the information is stored, will be charged at the actual production and/or reproduction cost.

    11.4 All payments for copies of records shall be paid in advance of delivery in the form of cash, a money order, corporate or business check, cashier or treasurer's check payable to General Treasurer, State of Rhode Island.

    11.5 The Department will inform the person requesting the record of the approximate cost which will be incurred.

  7. SUPERVISION OF INSPECTION

    12.1 Without regard for the location(s) selected for the public's inspection of records, the inspection will be accomplished in a manner which will provide for general supervision by authorized staff. This is necessary to prevent unauthorized removal of records or other actions which would destroy the integrity of the record.

    12.2 The section head in charge of the activity related to the public record shall have overall responsibility for the security of the public record. However, the section head may designate a staff person to coordinate the functions and responsibilities for the public's inspection of records.

    12.3 All personnel dealing with the public are to be made aware, by their section heads, of the procedures established for public inspection of records and shall direct inquiries to:

    12.3.1 The section head of the activity/function to which the public record requested relates or,

    12.3.2 In the event that the public record cannot be categorized as falling within a specific section head's responsibility, the inquirer shall be directed to the Office of Legal Counsel of the Department which will serve as a resource in matters relating to the public's inspection of records.

  8. SEVERABILITY

    If any provision of these rules and regulations or the application thereof to any person or circumstances shall be held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect the provisions or application of the rules and regulations which can be given effect, and to this end the provisions of these rules and regulations are declared to be severalbe.

Department of Administration
September, 1991

 


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