Rules Adopted Pending Governor's Approval
OIP Guidance: "Please Identify Yourself"
Recent OIP Opinions
On November 20, 1998, the Office of Information Practices
released the statement below regarding the proposed administrative
The proposed rules create procedures that agencies
must follow when receiving requests to inspect and copy government
records. They also establish fees that State and county agencies
may charge for searching for, reviewing, and segregating confidential
or private information from government records.
More information, including the text of the amended
proposed rules, is available at the OIP's web site at www.state.hi.us/oip.
Statement Regarding Proposed
The Office of Information Practices has completed its second round
of public comment on rules that would require government agencies
to respond to most requests for information within a reasonable
time, not to exceed ten days, and to assess a fee for segregation
of confidential information from public records.
OIP Director Moya Gray has decided to adopt the rules
with a few technical changes. The OIP will recommend that Governor
Cayetano approve these rules. The new rules will represent an improvement
for the large majority of information requesters. "Many of
the people who call the OIP face long delays in getting the documents
they have requested. A time limit will improve public access."
However, because of concerns expressed by public interest
groups and the media, who want even faster response times, Gray
said that she will look into creating a task force to make recommendations
to the OIP as to whether particular types of documents should be
more rapidly available.
"Please Identify Yourself"
The OIP has heard from many requesters that they are
being asked to identify themselves or to put their request for government
records in writing. The requesters want to know whether this is
The OIP has opined that, in most instances, an agency
may not ask for the person's name (see OIP Op. Ltr. No. 90-29 at
13-14). Thus, if a person wants to be an anonymous requester, that
is permissible. Neither may an agency ask what the person proposes
to do with the requested information (Op. Ltr No. 93-7 at 7).
In most cases an agency may not require a written
request (Op. Ltr No. 90-29 at 14). However, to prevent confusion,
frustration, and anger between the requester and the agency, the
OIP strongly recommends that the requester be very clear about what
records he or she is seeking. Getting an agency to understand exactly
what the requester wants is best achieved by putting the request
The OIP's adopted rules give the requester two choices:
an informal request may be either oral or written. However, the
requester can also "start the clock ticking" on an agency's
response time by submitting a formal request for records. The formal
request must be in writing.
Recent OIP Opinions
Monthly Outstanding Checks
Monthly Outstanding Checks Reports ("Reports") must be
disclosed to the public, despite Department of Accounting and General
Services' ("DAGS") claims that disclosure is premature,
that disclosure would be a burden to the agency, and that disclosure
would result in premature claims for the warrant amounts, placing
unnecessary demands upon DAGS’ resources. There is no exception
from disclosure under the UIPA for claims that disclosure may be
premature, may be a burden on the agency, or may result in increased
demand upon agency resources. While the UIPA does except from disclosure
those records the disclosure of which results in the frustration
of a legitimate government function, the agency’s ability
to carry out some legitimate government function must be truly impaired.
[OIP Op. Ltr. No. 98-4, June 17, 1998]
Police Internal Affairs Investigation
When there has been a shooting by a police officer, the Honolulu
Police Department ("HPD") Internal Affairs determines
whether employee misconduct has occurred and whether discipline
should be imposed. The investigative findings are generated in administrative
investigation reports. The news media requested access to the administrative
investigation reports in certain police shooting incidents. The
HPD sought the OIP’s opinion as to whether the record must
be disclosed, asserting that the entire record should be protected
from disclosure in order to avoid frustrating the agency’s
investigative functions and violating privacy rights.
The OIP opined that, as redaction of portions of the
report would protect both the investigative functions of the HPD
and privacy interests of individuals, the HPD should not withhold
the entire report from disclosure. Instead, however, the agency
should redact the information in which significant privacy interests
are found not to be outweighed by the public’s interest in
government operations. The "privacy" exception, section
92F-13(1), Hawaii Revised Statutes, applies to such information,
including the identities of complainants and witnesses and certain
In addition, information that identifies complainants
and witnesses may be redacted under the "frustration of a legitimate
government function" exception, section 92F-13(3), Hawaii Revised
Statutes, because this information must be confidential in order
for the agency
to avoid the frustration of its legitimate government function.
In this case, the OIP opined that disclosure of this information
would impair the HPD’s ability to conduct a full and accurate
The HPD may also redact employees’ statements,
under section 92F-13(3), Hawaii Revised Statutes. The OIP opined
that disclosure of employees’ statements may incriminate the
employee, thus violating the individual’s constitutional right
against self-incrimination. Requiring disclosure of these statements
would impair the government’s legitimate function of preserving
and conducting a full and accurate investigation.
Where a request for disclosure identifies the record
by officer name and incident, and where the agency asserts that
the officer’s identity is confidential, the OIP advised the
HPD to respond by neither confirming nor denying whether the officer
named is the subject officer. [OIP Op. Ltr. No. 98-5, Nov. 24, 1998]
All of us at the Office of Information Practices wish
you and your loved ones a joyful holiday season. We thank you for
your interest and support during the past year, and we wish you
a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!
Moya T. Davenport Gray
Lorna Loo Aratani
Carlotta M. Dias
Randall J. Port
Coleen F. Yoshina
The Office of Information Practices bids aloha to
Jackie Conant, who has returned to paralegal work in the private
sector. For a year and a half Jackie was a valuable member of the
OIP, performing the paralegal work that supports the work of the
staff attorneys. Jackie's energy and cheerfulness were an inescapable
and welcome part of the work week. We miss you, Jackie, and we wish
you the very best in your career and in life.
As another AYSO soccer season ends, Openline
acknowledges the involvement of several staff members in youth soccer
this year. We have among us two brand new members of that popular
American institution, the soccer mom! Lorna Aratani's favorite soccer
player is Tyler and Lynn Otaguro's favorites are Matthew and Katherine.
In addition, Moya Gray continues to cheer on Michael and Tiare.
Another staff attorney, Randy Port, was a brave volunteer referee
for the same games, which put him under close scrutiny by the soccer