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Public Service Recognition Week

May 9, 2017 Comments off

As part of Utah’s Public Service Recognition Week, we want to honor the men and women of the Utah State Archives and Records Service who work to ensure the management and preservation of and access to our governmental records.

Three employees whose work helps ensure that records and information are available to the public are Nova Dubovik, Elizabeth Perkes, and Glen Fairclough.

Nova Dubovik3 (2) (1) Nova Dubovik, executive secretary for the State Records Committee, processes the appeals that come to the Committee. She provides information to the Committee, creates minutes of meetings, and ensures that all decisions and orders are appropriately distributed and posted. Nova also develops and presents training about the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA), and helps to monitor the Open Records Portal.                                                                                                                     Elizabeth Perkes

Elizabeth Perkes is the Archives in-house technology specialist. She keeps computer systems running and updated. She works with vendors on systems upgrades and development. Elizabeth helps to manage the Archives website, keeping posted information current, relevant, and easy to search.

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Glen Fairclough is the administrator of the Public Notice Website, which is a central website where governmental entities are required to post agendas for open and public meetings, and where they also post minutes and audio recordings. Anyone who has questions about posting requirements or technical difficulties with posting may call Glen for assistance. (801) 531-3841.

The ongoing service of these individuals is invaluable to the Archives and to the public. Join the State Archives in recognizing them along with other employees in blog posts throughout the week, both here and on our blog, Researching the Utah State Archives.

PSRW

A Clearly Unwarranted Invasion of Personal Privacy

May 5, 2017 Comments off

Utah State Archives notes that the American Library Association has created Choose Privacy Week, an “annual, week-long event that promotes the importance of individual privacy rights and celebrates libraries and librarians’’ unique role in protecting privacy in the library and in society as a whole.” Much has been said about the value of government transparency, however, personal privacy is also important. The Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) provides for both.

GRAMA provides that “a record is public unless otherwise expressly provided by statute” (Utah Code Subsection 63G-2-201(2)).  Then it includes lists of private records (Utah Code Section 63G-2-302). Other laws and rules identify and protect private information as well. Because all privacy issues cannot specifically be contemplated, GRAMA includes the provision that records are private if releasing them would be “a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy” (Utah Code Subsection 63G-2-302(2)(d)). This is an interpretive provision allowing governmental entities to withhold access to information not specifically identified, but which they deem should be restricted to protect an individual’s privacy.

Privacy means different things to different people and because this law is interpretive, it can have broad application. For example, the law has been applied to an individual’s utility usage (such as water or electricity) and to juvenile names and images. State Records Committee decisions upholding a governmental entity’s privacy classification based on this provision provide a flavor for some of the ways it can be applied.

  • In September 2015, the Salt Lake Tribune requested from Utah State University all records involving student disciplinary actions in cases involving violent or sexual crimes in which a student was sanctioned. Specifically, the Tribune requested the student’s name, the nature of the violation, the date it was committed, and the sanction issued. In response, Utah State University provided the requested information but withheld student names. On appeal, the State Records Committee determined that releasing the names of individuals who were disciplined for violation of university codes of conduct would be a clearly unwarranted invasion of their privacy (State Records Committee Case No. 16-05).
  • In the April 2017 case, Andrew Becker v. Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the Records Committee determined that the release of an unredacted video image from a police officer’s body camera showing the face of a passenger in a DUI stop would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. After hearing testimony and viewing the records in camera, Committee determined that the Sheriff’s Office had appropriately redacted the video and could recoup the editing costs. (State Records Committee Case No. 17-15).
  • In July 2013, Mr. Leishman, an inmate, requested information about the security clearances of another inmate that related to that inmate’s religious practices as observed by staff in the Wasatch Family History Center offices. UDC provided no records because provision, by implication, would identify the individual. The State Records Committee determined that the information contained in the requested records involved the religious practices of a prison inmate, and their release would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of his personal privacy (State Records Committee Case No. 13-05) .
  • In May 2012, Kurt Danysh requested crime scene photographs and other records relating to the murder of Susan Gall. The State Records Committee was persuaded that all photographs depicting the victim, the inside of the victim’s home, as well as photographs depicting the perpetrator unclothed should be classified as private because release would be a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy (State Records Committee Case No. 12-09).

See additional State Archives post about personal privacy.

GRAMA Updates – 2017

  

The Legislative session ended March 9th and as has been the case every year since its enactment in 1992, the state has a new iteration of the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA). On the side of more sunshine, the definition of a governmental entity is expanded to include a governmental non-profit corporation (House Bill 55). Affected non-profit corporations are those that are wholly controlled by one or more governmental entities or those in which governmental entities exercise a controlling interest. Municipally controlled library foundations, arts councils, or building foundations are examples of non-profit corporations. The definition of a governmental entity is also expanded to include public school membership associations (House Bill 413). A public school membership association is an organization that governs or regulates a student’s participation in athletic interscholastic activity. Inclusions of these entities in the definition of a governmental entity clarifies that they are subject to GRAMA, and that their records are subject to request.

On the last day of the session, the Legislature passed a bill that specifically amends GRAMA (Senate Bill 242). The primary update is the provision that governmental entities are not required to provide records or respond to a records request from an individual who is incarcerated following his/her conviction. The provision extends to requests from anyone requesting on behalf of a convicted and incarcerated individual. However, the provision does not apply to the first five requests made during each calendar year when the requested record makes specific reference to the incarcerated individual. Nor does it apply to requests made by an attorney on behalf of an incarcerated individual. This legislation attempts to curtail abuse of the process of obtaining government records, while still affording incarcerated individuals with an avenue to obtain records relevant to their personal rights. It is noted that while governmental entities are not required to respond, they still have the option to do so. The new law does not curtail incarcerated individuals’ right to appeal government’s denial or failure to respond.

Senate Bill 242 also makes adjustments or clarifications to the appeals process as follows: 1) The time allowed for a chief administrative officer to respond to an appeal is extended from five to ten days, with the exception that the response should be in five days if the requester or interested party demonstrates that an expedited decision benefits the public; 2) once an appeal has been made to the district court, it cannot be remanded back to the State Records Committee; and 3) citizen members of a local appeals board cannot also be government employees.

Other legislation impacted GRAMA. House Bill 149 added to the list of private records information about an offender who is required to be on the Child Abuse Offender Registry but that is not required to be posted on that registry.

The Legislature made two additions to the list of protected records. Records related to the search process for a president of an institution of higher education are protected, except not an application for a publicly announced finalist (Senate Bill 238). Body-worn camera images or recordings taken inside a hospital or health care facility are protected to the extent that they do not include images of an alleged crime, critical incident, or certain other activities involving law enforcement.

All iterations of GRAMA since 1992 are posted on the State Archives website.

Categories: Records Management

GRAMA Legislative Updates 2015

July 9, 2015 Comments off

Legal updates enrolled in the 2015 Legislative session went into effect on May 12, 2015. The Legislature significantly modified the appeals process in the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA), especially as it relates to political subdivisions’ adoption of local appeals boards. It identified additional private and protected records, and expanded posting requirements for the Public Notice Website. A comprehensive review of these changes has been posted on the Archives website.

In light of these changes political subdivisions with ordinances that provide for a local appeals board will need to review and update their ordinances. Implementation of these changes is a good prompt for every political subdivision to review its records ordinances or policies and evaluate whether or not updates are in order. The Archives is happy to assist and answer questions. Please contact:

Rosemary Cundiff at (801) 531-3858, rcundiff@utah.gov;  or Nova Dubovik at (801) 531-3834, ndubovik@utah.gov.

GRAMA Updates for 2014

May 15, 2014 Comments off

This weekGirl Scouts visit the Utah State Legislature 352 new laws went into effect. Included in these  laws, enacted in the annual Legislative session, are two that impact the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA).

One law is Senate Bill 88, which provides that a video or audiorecording of an interview or transcript of a video or audio recording that is conducted at a Children’s Justice Center is not a record under GRAMA. Children’s Justice Centers (CJC) are established regionally in the state to interview children who are the victims of sexual or physical abuse and children who are the primary witnesses of crime. Children’s Justice Centers are designed to provide a single interview for a multi-government response and to mitigate further trauma to affected children. In the past Children’s Justice Center interviews were protected records under GRAMA. The Legislative intent in identifying the interviews as not records is to further protect the privacy of interviewed children. Because GRAMA specifically states that CJC interviews are not records, they are no longer restricted by a “protected” classification. They are not subject to request under GRAMA. Utah Code Section 77-37-4 identifies the individuals who can access CJC interviews and outlines the circumstances in which access is to be provided. Since CJC interviews are no longer government records subject to the requirements of GRAMA, they are presumably no longer subject to records retention schedules. The Archives and the Department of Child and Family Services are working with the Attorney General’s Office to determine how these interviews will be managed.

The second law is Senate Bill 36 which amends the Election Code. It amends GRAMA by making birth dates private in voter registration records. Voter registration records are public with the stated exception that a person’s Social Security number, driver license number, and email address which are part of the voter registration record, are private.  All of these elements remain private, but now the list of private elements additionally  includes a voter’s birth date. Also added as a private record under GRAMA is an individual’s entire voter registration record when that person has notified the Lieutenant governor’s officer or a county clerk that releasing their voter registration record is likely to put someone’s life or well being in jeopardy. Future voter registration forms will include these words,

    “If you believe that disclosure of any information contained in this voter registration form to a person other than a government official or government employee is likely to put you or a member of your household’s life or safety at risk, or to put you or a member of your household at risk of being stalked or harassed, you may apply to the lieutenant governor or your county clerk to have your entire voter registration record classified as private.”

Categories: Records Management

Sharing Records

January 8, 2014 Comments off

               Many government records are shared by more than one governmental entity. For example, law enforcement records are shared with the Department of Child and Family Services and with county attorneys, and financial records are shared with the State Auditor’s Office. Records are sometimes shared with the federal government. Sharing records within government is governed by the Government Access and Management Act. Section  63G-2-206 describes the conditions on which a governmental entity may provide a record that is private, controlled, or protected to another governmental  entity, a government-managed corporation, a political subdivision, the federal government, or another state. Examples of these conditions include when sharing is allowed by statute, when the recipient is authorized to conduct an audit, and when the recipient will use the record for a purpose similar to that for which the record was created. GRAMA also describes the conditions on which records can be shared with contractors and private providers. The Archives has published guidelines on its website called, “What GRAMA says About Sharing Records.” The Archives has also added new record sharing forms which can be used when sharing of restricted records. These forms are designed to help government understand and document the terms and conditions on which restricted records are shared.  They also document agreements about providing access to shared records.

Categories: Records Management

Electronic Records Day

October 10, 2013 Comments off

                   The Council of State Archivists (CoSA) is celebrating Electronic Records Day today, October 10, 2013. CoSA is distributing a brief release which highlights some electronic records management challenges. It is designed to raise awareness and remind everyone of the importance of managing and preserving electronic records. Take a moment to review 10 reasons for e-records 2013. Electronic records are fragile and will not survive without management and care. Celebrate Electronic Records Day by doing something to make a difference.

                  Speaking of electronic records, thank you to all who participated in Archives electronic records conference last week. Thanks to presenters: Rich Mrazik (Parsons, Bahle, and Latimer); Scott W. Robertson (Park City); Yvonne Christensen (Davis County); Marilee Richins (Department of Administrative Services); Daryl Downs (LDS Church); Gina Strack (Utah State Archives); Paul Tonks (Attorney General’s Office); and Lorianne Ouderkirk (Utah State Archives). Thank you to each person who attended, and especially thanks to Lorianne for her work in planning this event.