Release of Information Pursuant to the Texas Public Information Act
UPPS No. 01.04.30
Issue No. 8
Effective Date: 2/15/2011
Next Review Date: 3/01/2021 (E10Y)
Sr. Reviewer: University Attorney
The purposes of this UPPS are to:
summarize the Texas Public Information Act, hereafter referred to as the "Act"; and
explain the procedures to follow after receiving a request for information from internal or external requestors under the Act.
SUMMARY OF THE ACT
The Act provides that all information collected, assembled, or maintained by governmental bodies is public information and available to the public during normal business hours, unless the information falls within certain exceptions specified in the Act. Many of those exceptions are summarized as follows:
information that is confidential under other specific statutes or by judicial decisions;
certain personnel information that would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy (employees who wish to protect from disclosure their home addresses, home telephone numbers, and whether they have family members may do so by contacting the Human Resources Office. Social security numbers are protected from disclosure);
certain information relating to litigation if the litigation is pending or reasonably anticipated on the date the request is made;
information relating to competition or bidding;
information relating to the location or price of property before public announcement or award of contract;
certain legislative documents;
certain legal matters;
certain law enforcement records;
certain private communications of an elected office-holder;
certain commercial or financial information;
certain memoranda containing advice, opinions, or recommendations on policy matters;
certain information relating to regulation of financial institutions or securities;
geological or geophysical information;
certain student records;
certain birth and death records;
certain audit working records;
certain addresses, telephone numbers, social security numbers, and personal family information;
official prescription forms;
photographs of peace officers;
certain rare books and original manuscripts;
certain documents held for historical research;
certain test items;
names of applicants for chief executive officer of institutions of higher education;
certain library records;
names of applicants for superintendent of public school districts;
certain information submitted by a potential vendor or contractor;
personal information relating to participants in neighborhood crime watch organizations;
motor vehicle inspection information;
certain motor vehicle records;
certain economic development information; and
crime victim information.
Texas State is a governmental body; therefore, records it maintains are subject to the Act’s provisions. The Act applies to records kept in all forms, including documents, photographs, drawings, videotapes, computer records, and tape recordings.
Tangible items such as tools and keys are not covered by the Act. Personal notes not made or kept in the course of university business are not subject to disclosure under the Act.
PROCEDURES FOR RELEASE OF INFORMATION
. Persons who receive requests for information under the Act should promptly notify the university attorney.
The university attorney is the president’s designee as officer for public records for the purpose of complying with the Act.
The Act requires that the university promptly produce public records for inspection or duplication or both within a reasonable time. Minimally, a written acknowledgement of requests should be provided to requestors within ten days of receipt of the request. If the university attorney, in consultation with other university officials, believes that the information requested is excepted from the required public disclosure, he or she must request a decision from the attorney general within ten days after receiving a written request. If he or she fails to request a decision, the information is presumed to be public information.
. University employees should extend to persons requesting public records all reasonable comfort and facility for the full exercise of the rights granted by the Act. University employees should treat each request for information uniformly without regard to the position or occupation of the person making the request, the person on whose behalf the request is made, or because the individual is a member of the news media (see UPPS No. 06.05.02, Responding to Media Inquiries).
. University employees should not make any inquiry of any person who applies to inspect or copy records except to establish proper identification, identify the public records being requested and obtain clarifying details to assure accurate compliance, or establish whether the university is authorized to refuse the request.
. The university attorney and the designated information owner for the office that maintains the requested information will review the request and determine whether the information is available to the requestor. If they believe that the information is not available to the requestor, the university attorney will request a decision from the attorney general on the issue. See the Data Ownership Guide (under the University Standards and Guides section of the Web page) for a list of the offices with ownership responsibility for commonly-requested information.
The information owner may require that applicants for records submit their applications in writing on paper or via e-mail.
The Act does not require that the university prepare new information, provide it in the form requested, or comply with standing requests. However, if information is readily available in the form requested, it should be provided in that form. If there is uncertainty, the university attorney and information owner will together determine the best means of providing information.
. The university attorney and the information owner for the office that maintains the records will determine, on a case-by-case basis, the procedures by which public records may be inspected efficiently, safely, and without delay.
. The university may require persons requesting copies of university records to pay a reasonable reproduction charge before delivering the copies to the requestors. These costs are set forth on the Office of Attorney General website by following the Cost Rules link. An itemized list of charges (if any) and a statement that charges must be paid in advance should be provided to the requestor, when applicable. The university may, in appropriate cases, require a bond for payment of costs for the preparation of public records.
REVIEWERS OF THIS UPPS
Reviewers of this UPPS include the following:
Position Date University Attorney March 1 E10Y Director, University News Service March 1 E10Y
This UPPS has been approved by the following individuals in their official capacities and represents Texas State policy and procedure from the date of this document until superseded.
University Attorney; senior reviewer of this UPPS
Special Assistant to the President