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Posts Tagged ‘Government Records’

Updated General Retention Schedule for Publications

August 29, 2013 Comments off

An updated version of the retention schedule for publications is going before the State Records Committee in September. The new description is not a description of publications as much as it is a definition. It states simply, “any record, regardless of format, that is issued by a governmental entity for public distribution at the total or partial expense of that governmental entity.” Governmental entities should use this schedule for publications they have produced and distributed, and not for publications they receive or subscribe to.

The statutory definition of a State Publication (UCA 9-7-101) is:

“state publication means a book, compilation, directory, document, contract or grant report, hearing memorandum, journal, law, legislative bill, magazine, map, monograph, order, ordinance, pamphlet, periodical, proceeding, public memorandum, resolution, register, rule, report, statute, audiovisual material, electronic publication, micrographic form and tape or disc recording regardless of format or method of reproduction, issued or published by a state agency or political subdivision for distribution.”

This is a good exhaustive list of many formats from books to online publications. With so much that can be called a publication there are a few ways to determine if your publication should use this schedule.

• Does your publication fit the statute’s description?

• Is it a record according to GRAMA?
o It is a record if your entity prepared, owned, received, or retained it; but,
o It is not a record if access to it is limited by the laws of copyright or patent unless the copyright or patent is owned by the governmental entity in question (see Utah Code Section 63G-2-103(22)(a)(i)(b)(iv)(vii)(viii).

• Is it published?
o Dictionary definition: to prepare and produce material in printed or electronic form for distribution.

• Did your office pay for the publication’s creation and/or distribution?
o Directly, through the cost of publication, or
o Indirectly, through the wages of producers.

The proposed retention for publications is, “Permanent. The creating agency shall transfer one copy to State Archives when published.”

Micrographics: Duplicating Microfilm and Microfilm Storage

August 5, 2013 Comments off

Utah State Archives Micrographic Services

Duplicating Microfilm and Microfilm Storage

Part 3 of 3

The micrographics department at the Utah State Archives is a full service microfilm department, meaning micrographics can develop, duplicate, and store both 16mm and 35mm films. Micrographics can also capture digital images to microfilm as well as produce digital images from microfilm and microfiche. The following post is the final installment of a 3 part series on the services available by the micrographics department.

Duplicating Microfilm

In addition to filming and developing microfilm Micrographics can also make duplicates. Diazo duplicates are the user copy, or the roll of film that would be used on a microfilm reader. Having diazo duplicates is important because master microfilm rolls should not be used on a reader, because of the risk of being damaged. Since July of 2012 micrographics has made over 1,000 diazo duplicated.

More durable than the diazo film is the microfilm silver copy. Silver copies cost more than diazo duplicates and can be produced as either a negative or a positive copy. The advantage of a silver copy is the durability and it can be a great backup copy to the master microfilm.

Diazo Duplicator Machine

Diazo Duplicator Machine

Storing Microfilm

The Utah State Archives’ collection currently holds over 117,000 rolls of microfilm. If the microfilm is stored properly, as shown, the film will last up to 500 years. The Utah State Archives meets or exceeds national standards because we store our film collection at sixty degrees and forty percent humidity.

Microfilm Cabinets

Microfilm Cabinets

Register for Training

January 30, 2013 2 comments

Utah State Archives Training
The Utah State Archives training schedule is up-to-date and available for registration. Training sessions are designed to educate and support records officers in fulfilling their responsibilities as stewards of government records. This year we are offering:
• Basic Records Management
• Records Inventory
• Records Access I: Public Records Requests
• Records Access I: Public Records Requests for Law Enforcement Records
• Records Access II: Appeals

Basic Records Management
Basic Records Management will consider the importance of records, legal responsibilities for keeping records, definition of a record, identifying vital records, COOP planning, and email management. This session is presented by Lorianne Ouderkirk, Records Analyst.

Records Inventory
Records Inventory introduces participants to the planning and implementation of a records inventory. Participants will learn how to conduct a successful records inventory and appraise records in preparation for creating and/or updating records retention schedules as part of your records management plan. We will discuss what a records inventory is, steps for completing the inventory process, and strategies for appraising office records. This session is presented by Lorianne Ouderkirk, Records Analyst.

Records Access I: Public Records Requests
Records Access I: Public Records Requests will consider records classification, records sharing, handling GRAMA requests, and the appeals process. This training is very similar to the online training required for appointed records officers. The certification exam will not be administered during the in-person training. This session is presented by Rosemary Cundiff, Government Records Ombudsman.

Records Access I: Public Records Requests for Law Enforcement Records
Records Access I: Public Records Requests for Law Enforcement Records will dig deeper into access and classification issues with emphasis on common law enforcement records and subpoenas. In addition to records protected by GRAMA, discussion will include common exempt records such as accident records and expunged records. This session is presented by Rosemary Cundiff, Government Records Ombudsman.

Records Access II: Appeals
Records Access II: Appeals will go over the basics of providing access, including handling GRAMA requests and describing the appeals process. Recent changes to GRAMA will be reviewed. This session is presented by Rosemary Cundiff, Government Records Ombudsman.

The online form to register for any of the above training sessions can be found at the following link: http://archives.state.ut.us/cgi-bin/traininglist.cgi

Utah State Historical Records Advisory Board Training

Basics of Archives
The Utah State Historical Records Advisory Board is sponsoring a Basics of Archives training session. One session will be held on Friday, February 22, at the Utah State Archives located at 346 S Rio Grande in Salt Lake City. Another session will be held on Thursday, February 28, at the Southern Utah University Library. Both sessions will begin at 9 a.m. and will conclude by 12:30 p.m. Topics such as care and preservation of records will be discussed. Please RSVP by February 15 to Janell Tuttle at jtuttle@utah.gov. Space is limited.

Online Records Officer Certification Training is Now Available

January 2, 2013 Comments off

Effective January 1, 2013, all records officers for the state of Utah are required to take annual Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) training. This training is to be completed online. The Utah State Archives has posted the required training to our website.

63G-2-108.   Certification of records officer.
Each records officer of a governmental entity or political subdivision shall, on an annual basis, successfully complete online training and obtain certification from state archives in accordance with Section 63A-12-110. (emphasis added)

Records Officers are invited to review the certification manual and complete the exam at their convenience, but not later than December 31, 2013.

Records officers will be receiving an email from the Archives this week with a link to the exam.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Frequently Asked Questions

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Who is required to take this exam?

All records officers employed by a state agency, local government, special service district, school district, and/or any other publicly funded entity.

What is a records officer?

Records officers are government employees that have been appointed by their entity’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).

The chief administrative officer of each governmental entity shall:

(2) appoint one or more records officers who will be trained to work with the state archives in the care, maintenance, scheduling, disposal, classification, designation, access, and preservation of records;

(emphasis added)

What is a CAO?

A CAO is a government employee, such as an Executive Director, County Commissioner, City Manager or Mayor, etc, whose job is to oversee the proper and effective management of, and access to, government records.

  The chief administrative officer of each governmental entity shall:
(1) establish and maintain an active, continuing program for the economical and efficient management of the governmental entity’s records as provided by this chapter and Title 63G, Chapter 2, Government Records Access and Management Act;
(2) appoint one or more records officers who will be trained to work with the state archives in the care, maintenance, scheduling, disposal, classification, designation, access, and preservation of records;
(3) ensure that officers and employees of the governmental entity that receive or process records requests receive required training on the procedures and requirements of this chapter and Title 63G, Chapter 2, Government Records Access and Management Act;
(4) make and maintain adequate and proper documentation of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and essential transactions of the governmental entity designed to furnish information to protect the legal and financial rights of persons directly affected by the entity’s activities;
(5) submit to the state archivist proposed schedules of records for final approval by the records committee;
(6) cooperate with the state archivist in conducting surveys made by the state archivist;
(7) comply with rules issued by the Department of Administrative Services as provided by Section 63A-12-104;
(8) report to the state archives the designation of record series that it maintains;
(9) report to the state archives the classification of each record series that is classified; and

(10) establish and report to the state archives retention schedules for objects that the governmental entity determines are not defined as a record under Section 63G-2-103, but that have historical or evidentiary value.

When do I need to certify as a records officer?

Each records officer is required to take the training annually (Utah Code 63G-2-108). It is available now.

How often do I need to certify?

Records officers are required by law to certify annually. Records officers who pass the exam on January 3, 2013 will need to plan on taking the exam again on, or before, January 3, 2014. Records officers will receive a reminder email 30 days prior to the expiration of their certification.

Where can I find the Records Officer Certification Manual and Exam?

All of the required certification materials can be found on the Archives website:

1. Navigate to http://www.archives.utah.gov

2. Select “Records Management” from the main page.

3. Select “Training”

4. Click on the link “Online Records Officer Certification”

Can I complete the certification exam even if I am not the appointed records officer for my agency?

Yes, all State of Utah employees are invited to complete the certification exam process. Employees who are not the appointed records officer for their entity must select the following option when completing the registration form:

“I am an employee of a governmental entity, but not an official records officer.

I didn’t receive an email from the Archives with a link to the exam. How can I register for the exam?

1. Navigate to http://www.archives.utah.gov

2. Select “Records Management” from the main page.

3. Select “Training”

4. Click on the link “Online Records Officer Certification”

5. Click on the link “Register as a new records officer

6. Complete all of the fields on the form and submit the form for review.

7. You will receive a confirmation email with a link to the exam once your registration has been approved.

Is there a cost to take the certification exam?

No, the certification exam is free.

What happens if I don’t pass the exam?

Records officers who do not score a 75 percent or higher on the exam can retake the exam as many times as needed to receive a passing score.  To retake the exam, simply click on the link in your confirmation email. If you accidentally delete the confirmation email, please call the Archives and we will resend your link.

I started the exam but can’t finish it today, will I need to start the exam over?

No. The exam includes four parts. Each time you complete one part of the exam, your submissions are saved to our database. You can exit the exam after any one of the four parts. To reenter the exam, simply click on the link in your confirmation email.

***NOTE*** If you have completed only half of the questions for part two of the exam and need to exit, your answers for part two will not be saved.

Still Time to RSVP for Unique Opportunity

November 27, 2012 6 comments

Unique Opportunity

Tour State Records Center

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The State Records Center will open its doors this Thursday, November 29th for a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Open House. The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony will be held at 1:30 p.m. with an Open House and tours of the facility following from 2:20 p.m. until 3:40 p.m. The State Records Center is usually closed to the public so this event provides a unique opportunity for state and local employees as well as the general public to tour the 80,000 square foot facility.

For nearly 40 years, the Utah State Archives leased warehouse space in West Valley City. Having reached its storage capacity, the State Records Center had outgrown the facility. When the U.S. government transferred ownership of three federal buildings at the Freeport Center to the state of Utah in 2010, state officials determined that relocating the State Records Center to the Clearfield facility would result in significant cost savings for the state.

Please join the Utah State Archives as we celebrate the opening of this new, renovated facility. We look forward to seeing you!

Directions

Utah State Records Center (map)
Building C-6
5th St & C St
Clearfield, Utah

At exit 332 on I-15, take ramp right and and turn left onto UT-108 / W Antelope Dr. (1700 S). Turn right onto 300 W. Turn right onto C St and then turn onto 5th St to access Building C-6.

RSVP

Records Center Open House Program and RSVP!

State Records Center

Ribbon Cutting and Open House Program

November 29, 2012

Pre-program

1:30 pm  Slide presentation

               Gathering in program area

Ribbon Cutting Program

1:45 pm  Welcome by Mark Dalton, Records Center Manager

1:48 pm  Wayne Christensen, overview of building acquisition

1:51 pm  Gregg Buxton, highlights of the new building

1:54 pm  Patricia Smith-Mansfield, need for the new facility

2:00 pm  Kim Hood, Executive Director, Department of Administrative Services

2:10 pm  Ribbon cutting

               Pictures

               Interviews and Q&A with the press

Tours of the facility begin at 2:20 pm

Directions

Utah State Records Center (map)
Building C-6
5th St & C St
Clearfield, Utah

At exit 332 on I-15, take ramp right and and turn left onto UT-108 / W Antelope Dr. (1700 S). Turn right onto 300 W. Turn right onto C St and then turn onto 5th St to access Building C-6.

RSVP

Gmail Transition: How can I preserve my email records?

October 29, 2012 Comments off

On November 13, 2012, State of Utah employees will transition from GroupWise email accounts to Gmail email accounts. Every state employee is responsible for managing his or her own email account in accordance with state approved retention periods.

Remember: Not all email correspondence qualify as government records. Email correspondence may be government records depending on the content. Email correspondence that discusses government business, or is government work-function related, is a government record.

State employees will want to follow these steps to ensure that all appropriate email records are successfully transferred to Gmail.

1. Determine whether email correspondence is a government record. State employees should refer to this flow chart for help identifying email records.

2. Delete all non-record correspondence.

Non-record correspondence has no business-related content. Non-record correspondence should not be retained on state email systems. Non-record correspondence should be deleted as soon as reasonably possible.

  • personal messages (birthdays, errands, etc)
  • listserv messages
  • product/vendor solicitations
  • spam

3. Determine the type of email correspondence. There are three categories of email correspondence.

Unique agency correspondence
Unique agency correspondence refers to the email correspondence state agencies create and receive in response to agency programs and are created and received by all levels of state employees (directors, managers, professional staff, temporary staff, etc). Unique agency correspondence conducted via email should be kept for the entire retention period of the records series they support. Unique agency email correspondence may be transferred to another agency records keeping system for more effective management. Additionally, it may be deleted at the completion of the retention period or, if permanent, transferred to State Archives. State employees should contact the agency records officer to find out which approved record series retention schedule and disposition is appropriate to unique agency email correspondence.

  • Contract correspondence
  • Email correspondence as part of maintenance work orders
  • Email correspondence approving the destruction of government records

Transitory correspondence
Much of the email correspondence generated by state employees is transitory. Transitory email correspondence is created and received by all state employees (directors, managers, professional staff, temporary staff, etc). Generally, transitory email does not support the core functions or programs of the agency, which typically have unique retention schedules. Transitory email correspondence is only kept as long as there is an administrative reason to support its retention. Administrative need may be 15 minutes, six months, or longer. Transitory email correspondence is managed by each individual state employee. Any questions regarding the retention period of transitory email records should be directed to the agency records officer.

  • Answers to requests for information from co-workers, other state agencies, or the public.
  • Comments on reports or other documentation from co-workers, managers, etc.
  • Feedback requests on routine business matters
  • General email between co-workers that relates to agency business

Policy/Program Correspondence

Policy and program email correspondence typically originate only from the executive director or other high-level staff. Policy and program email correspondence has historical value and must be retained permanently. Policy and program records must be transferred to State Archives. Agency records officers should oversee the transfer of policy and program correspondence. The agency administration should work with the agency records officer to determine in-office retention and transfer policies for permanent email records.

  • Documents agency policies
  • Provides documentation of legal rights
  • Documents the major transactions, services, and programs of the state

4. Identify the appropriate retention for email correspondence.

Types of Email

Retention

Disposition

Examples

Non-record none delete immediately personal message, listservs, product solicitations, spam
Unique agency see agency records officer see agency records officer program or project case files, etc.
Transitory until admin. need ends delete answers to requests, comments, feedback, general work email
Policy/program permanent transfer to State Archives document agency policies, document legal rights, major transactions, services and programs

5. Email correspondence 10+ years old will not be transferred from GroupWise to Gmail. Employees with email correspondence that must be retained 10+ years according to approved retention periods will need to make special arrangements with DTS to have these email records transferred.

6. Remember: Every state agency has a designated records officer. State employees should direct questions or concerns regarding email retention to the designated records officer.

7. Employees need to work with the agency records officer to identify the appropriate, approved retention period for unique agency email correspondence.

8. Destruction of unique agency email correspondence should be performed under the approval of the agency records officer and in accordance with established procedures.

9. Employees should follow the following guidelines when creating and managing email correspondence:

  1. Preserve the record-copy
  2. Preserve the thread
  3. Use meaningful subject lines
  4. Conduct agency business on agency systems
  5. Do not combine business and personal email.
  6. Do not retain copies
  7. Do no retain non-records.

Additional Resources:

Email FAQ

Electronic Mail Management, Retention, and Disposition

GRAMA Request and Appeal Time Limits

        The Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) provides time limits for both responding to requests and appealing denials. These time limits, found in Utah Code sections 63G-2-204 and 401-404, are important because they protect rights and define responsibilities. A requestor is entitled to a response within a reasonable timeframe. If the requestor is not satisfied with the response he or she must appeal within a reasonable time. One reason GRAMA requests must be in writing is to document when the clock starts ticking.

Government to respond to a GRAMA request As soon as reasonably possible but no more than 10 business days 63G-2-204(3)
Government to affirm or deny request for expedited response No more than 5 business days 63G-2-204(3)
Government to respond to expedited GRAMA request No more than 5 business days 63G-2-204(3)
Government to respond if extraordinary circumstances As soon as reasonably possible and according to additional details outlined in the law; notify when records will be available 63G-2-204(6)
Requester to appeal denial to chief administrative officer Within 30 days after receiving notice of denial or if the governmental entity fails to respond 63G-2-401(1)63G-2-204(8)
Chief administrative officer to respond to appeal No more than 5 business days or 12 business days if business confidentiality is involved; by agreement parties may extend the time period 63G-2-401(5)
Requester to appeal the denial of the chief administrative officer to the State Records Committee. Within 30 days after receiving response or 45 days after appeal if chief administrative officer did not respond (Requestor may choose to appeal in District Court instead.) 63G-2-403(1)
Requester to notify government of intent to appeal On same day as request for State Records Committee hearing 63G-2-403(3)
State Records Committee executive secretary to schedule hearing Within 5 days after receiving request 63G-2-403(5)
Date of hearing Not less than 14 days or more than 52 days after request for hearing  3G-2-403(5)
Government to provide statement of facts supporting government position Not later than 5 business days before hearing 63G-2-403(5)
State records committee to issue a decision and order Within 7 business days after the hearing 63G-2-403(11)
Government to comply with order to produce records or either party may appeal State Records Committee decision in District Court Within 30 days after the date of the State Records Committee’s order 63G-2-404(1)

Adhering to GRAMA Changes

August 7, 2012 1 comment

The Utah State Archives’ staff is busy preparing to implement the online training which was mandated in legislative changes to the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) during the 2012 Utah State Legislature General Session and which will become effective on January 1, 2013. The changes to Title 63G, Chapter 2 of GRAMA includes the following: “Each records officer of a governmental entity or political subdivision shall, on an annual basis, successfully complete online training and obtain certification from State Archives in accordance with 63A-12-110.” (Utah Code § 63G-2-108). A records officer is defined as “the individual appointed by the chief administrative officer of each governmental entity, or the political subdivision to work with State Archives in the care, maintenance, scheduling, designation, classification, disposal, and preservation of records” (Utah Code § 63G-2-103).

This means that soon every state, county, municipal, school district, and special service district records officer will be required to annually participate in online training provided by the State Archives (Utah Code § 63A-12-110). Also in accordance with the law, for every agency, the name and date of certification of each records officer must be posted on the State Archives’ website.

The online training will train records officers on GRAMA and other legal and policy matters relating to records management and access (Utah Code § 63A-12-110). Mindy Spring, a State Archives records analyst and training specialist, is in charge of developing the new online training. The online training is intended to answer questions records officers encounter during their daily responsibilities. Records officers are welcome to complete an online survey to provide feedback about their training needs. Training content suggestions can also be sent directly to Mindy at mspring@utah.gov. Additionally, Mindy is looking for volunteers to participate in a pilot online training program. Requests to be part of the pilot program can be sent to her via email.

The State Archives is currently in the process of gathering the names and contact information on all records officers who will be required to participate in annual online training. Since it is the responsibility of the chief administrative officer to appoint records officers, the State Archives is looking to that person to provide this information. The State Archives will be requesting that chief administrative officers from county, municipal, school districts, special service districts, and state agencies provide the following information regarding the appointed records officer:

  1. records officer’s name and contact information (phone number, email, mailing address, and physical address if different from mailing address)
  2. name of governmental entity or department for which that records officer provides service
  3. areas of responsibility (e.g., records management, GRAMA, etc.) if more than one records officer is assigned to the same governmental entity or department.

Lorianne Ouderkirk, a new records analyst at the State Archives, will be compiling the records officers’ names and information for municipalities. Chief administrative officers from a municipal agency can send the above information in an email to louderkirk@utah.gov or by mail or FAX to:
Lorianne Ouderkirk

Utah State Archives

346 South Rio Grande Street

Salt Lake City, Utah 84101-1106

FAX: (801)531-3867

Glen Fairclough, a State Archives records analyst, will be compiling the records officers’ names and information for state agencies. Chief administrative officers from a state agency can send the requested information regarding records officers in an email to gfairclough@utah.gov or by mail or FAX to:

Glen Fairclough

UtahState Archives

346 South Rio Grande Street

Salt Lake City, Utah84101-1106

FAX: (801)531-3867

The State Archives will use the information provided by the chief administrative officer of each agency to contact the records officer and further inform them of the online training requirements. Any questions regarding the online training can be directed to Mindy Spring at (801) 531–3842 or mspring@utah.gov. Questions regarding the submission of records officers’ information from a municipality can be directed to Lorianne Ouderkirk at (801) 531–3860 or louderkirk@utah.gov. Questions regarding the submission of records officers’ information for a state agency can be directed to Glen Fairclough at (801) 531–3841 or gfairclough@utah.gov.

Navigating the GRAMA Appeals Process

July 19, 2012 Comments off

A GRAMA request is a written request for access to government records pursuant to Utah’s Government Records Access and Management Act.  A governmental entity that receives a request can respond in one of the following ways: 1) provide the requested record, 2) provide a notice of denial that explains why all or part of the record should be withheld, 3) provide a referral if they do not have the record, or 4) provide notification that because of extraordinary circumstances more time will be required in order to respond (Utah Code 63G-2-204(3)).

If the requestor is not satisfied with the response, GRAMA has provided a way to appeal. Here is how to navigate that process.  

What can be appealed?

1. Denial of access to records can be appealed. Disagreement over restricted access based on the record’s classification or a confidentiality agreement is the most common reason to appeal a notice of denial. Since all records are presumed to be open to the public unless there is a reason in law to restrict access, the governmental entity’s notice of denial should include reference to the law that authorizes restriction. The legal reference will provide justification for the governmental entity’s reason for denying access and also a basis upon which the requester can respond.

Restricted classification is not the only reason for denying GRAMA requests. For example, an entity may claim that it does not have any records responsive to the request, or that the request is too broad. An entity may deny a request if it duplicates an earlier request from the same person. Any of these denials can be appealed. A requester can argue, for example, that the request is not too broad or that the governmental entity does have records it claims not to have.

2. Denied requests for fee waivers or reductions can be appealed. Although a governmental entity cannot charge for allowing someone to inspect a public record, GRAMA provides details about fees that can be charged for responding to GRAMA requests (Utah Code 63G-2-203). The spirit of the law is that access to records should be provided as reasonably as possible while still allowing government to recoup direct costs associated with providing records. Governmental entities are encouraged, though not required, to waive fees for GRAMA requests if releasing the record is in the public interest, if an impecunious person’s legal rights are affected, or if the requester is the subject of the record. Because determining public interest as well as setting reasonable fees is subjective a governmental entity’s decision about fees is subject to appeal.

3. Claims of extraordinary circumstances can be appealed. GRAMA specifically identifies a number of extraordinary circumstances which, if present, can be the basis for extending the deadline for responding to a records request (Utah Code 63G-2-204(5). When extraordinary circumstances are present the governmental entity should advise a requester when to expect a response. A requester who believes that extraordinary circumstances do not exist or that the timeframe for response is unreasonable can make an appeal.

What is required to make an appeal?

GRAMA outlines an appeals process that can be applied when a records request does not result in the satisfactory production of records. The basis for every appeal is the written copy of the original request or requests along with the notice or notices of denial. These records document the request and corresponding response, and establish a foundation for appeal. Utah Code 63G-2-401(2) states, “The notice of appeal shall contain the following information: (a) the petitioner’s name, mailing address, and daytime telephone number; and (b) the relief sought.”

The appeal should include the requester’s argument, including a statement of the facts, reasons, and legal authority that support the requester’s position (Utah Code 63G-2-401(3)). If a requester appeals a denial based on the entity’s statement that responsive records do not exist, then the appeal must include some evidence that the records do or should exist. If an appeal challenges denial based on a particular restricted classification then the appeal should substantiate why the entity’s classification is inappropriate. When fees are at issue, a requester may explain why filling the request without charge is in the public interest or explain another appropriate reason. The appeal should include the requester’s best argument for why his or her request should be granted.

To whom is appeal made?

1. The first appeal is made to the chief administrative officer. (see Utah Code 63G-2-401) Each denial notice must state that the requester has the right to appeal with instructions for making an appeal to the chief administrative officer (CAO). The CAO is the highest ranking member of the governmental entity. For example, in state government it is the division director or department head. A mayor or city manager is the CAO for a municipality.

Upon receiving the appeal, the chief administrative officer will weigh options and make a determination. It is worth noting that the chief administrative officer is authorized to disclose records that are properly classified as private or protected if he or she believes that, in the specific instance, interests favoring disclosure are greater than or equal to the interests favoring restriction. This allows him or her to satisfy a specific request without generally overruling the restricted classification that has been applied to a set of records.

If the CAO does not release the requested records, he or she must provide a written notice of denial. The notice must include the statement that the requester has the right to appeal the denial either to the State Records Committee or to district court. If the request is for multiple records the requester may ask for an inventory of the records being denied along with the associated reason for denial in each instance.

This process is tempered by the fact that, because GRAMA provides local governments the opportunity to adopt ordinances or policies applicable within their jurisdictions, some local governments have, by ordinance, established a separate appeals board. If the request is to a local government that has established a board other than the State Records Committee, then the notice of denial will provide alternate instructions for appeal. Local government records ordinances or policies are filed with the State Archives. (see local government ordinances)

2. The second appeal is directed to the State Records Committee. (see Utah Code 63G-2-403) The CAO’s denial notice must include notice of the requester’s right to appeal to the State Records Committee or other local appeals board and provide time limits for making the appeal. The State Records Committee, which typically meets monthly, is made up of people from diverse backgrounds in order to provide different perspectives. A request for a hearing should be directed to executive secretary, Susan Mumford. Upon receipt, Susan will schedule a hearing at a regularly scheduled meeting. Alternately, appeals can be made to the district court.

How does the State Records Committee appeals process work? 

1. A hearing is scheduled. A request for a State Records Committee hearing should include notices of denial from both the records officer and the chief administrative officer as well as copies of the original records requests. In addition the request should include a short statement of the facts, reasons, and legal authority why the appeal should be granted. The request must also include the petitioner’s name, mailing address, and daytime telephone number.

All of these should be mailed to:  State Records Committee Executive Secretary

Susan Mumford

346 South Rio Grande Street

Salt Lake City, Utah84101

On the same day that a petitioner requests a hearing, he or she must also provide a copy of the appeal to the governmental entity to put them on notice. This will allow government time to prepare for the hearing. Within five days of receiving the request, Susan will schedule a hearing and will notify both the petitioner and the governmental entity of the hearing date.

2. Arguments are shared. After scheduling the hearing, Susan will send the notice of appeal with its supporting documents and statement to everyone who was involved in the GRAMA request process, and also to each member of the State Records Committee, as well as to anyone who made a business confidentiality claim associated with the request .

Before the hearing the governmental entity will provide a written statement of its argument supporting denial. All involved parties, including committee members, will be able to review arguments supporting both positions before the hearing. If the denial involves denial of access to records, the governmental entity must bring the records in question to the hearing.

3. A hearing is held. At every State Records Committee hearing both sides are allowed to testify and present evidence in support of their position. Beginning with the petitioner, each side is allowed to make a five-minute opening statement, after which each side is allowed twenty or thirty minutes to develop an argument. Committee members will ask questions as they arise. The committee may allow witnesses to testify or other interested parties to comment. If they choose to do so, committee members may review requested records in camera (closed session). On both sides, a clearly defined objective and a well prepared oral argument is very helpful to the process.

At the conclusion of each hearing committee members openly deliberate on the matter before them until a committee member formulates a motion. If the motion is seconded the committee will discuss and then vote on it. If the motion passes with a majority vote, then that motion will be drafted into an order. If the motion fails, then the committee will continue to deliberate until an alternate motion becomes successful.

4.  The Committee’s decision is drafted into an order.  Representative counsel from the Attorney General’s office is present at every State Records Committee hearing to provide support and draft orders. After each hearing the State Records Committee issues an order expressing the determination of the committee. A governmental entity that does not wish to comply with an order to disclose records may appeal the State Records Committee’s decision in district court. Likewise, a petitioner may continue to pursue a denied appeal in district court.

The State Records Committee has been listening to GRAMA request appeals since GRAMA was enacted in 1992. Each of the committee’s decisions and orders is posted on the Utah State Archives website. These decisions and orders can be a model and a resource for both government and the public as similar situations arise. (see State Records Committee Decisions and Orders)

Anyone who needs help with the GRAMA appeals process is invited to contact the state records ombudsman, Rosemary Cundiff at (801) 531-3858 or rcundiff@utah.gov.

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