Module 2: Access to Records

Section 2.2 Right to inspect records and receive copies of records.

Every person has the right to inspect a public record free of charge during normal business hours and the right to make a copy. This means that restrictions cannot be based on the reason the person is seeking a record, or conditional on citizenship, or any other personal characteristic.

63G-2-201. Right to inspect records and receive copies of records.
(1) Every person has the right to inspect a public record free of charge, and the right to take a copy of a public record during normal working hours, subject to Sections 63G-2-203 and 63G-2-204.

Going back to the definitions, a public record “means a record that is not private, controlled, or protected and that is not exempt from disclosure.” (Subsection 63-2-103(21))  A “record is public unless otherwise expressly provided by statute” (Subsection (2)). This means that the default classification of all government records is public.

GRAMA identifies three classifications of records for which access must be restricted: 1) private (as found in Sections 63G-2-302, 303), 2) controlled (as found in Section 63G-2-304), and 3) protected (as found in Section 63G-2-305), and then includes, as not public, any record to which access is restricted pursuant to court rule, another state statute, federal statute, or federal regulation. Generally, access to private and controlled records is restricted to protect the privacy of individuals. Access to protected records is restricted because restriction is in the public interest.

63G-2-201. Right to inspect records and receive copies of records.
. . . . (3) The following records are not public:  (4) Only a record specified in Section 63G-2-302, 63G-2-303, 63G-2-304, or 63G-2-305 may be classified private, controlled, or protected.

In all cases where the records are not public—whether restricted by GRAMA or by some other rule or law—the law will describe the records to be restricted and name those who should or may have access. Government may not disclose a record that is private, controlled, or protected except as provided in this section. Access to records to which access is restricted pursuant to court rule, another state statute, federal statute, or federal regulation is subject to the access provisions specific to that statute, rule, or regulation.

Record formatting, 63G-2-201(8, 11, 12)

GRAMA is specific in what actions the governmental entity is not require to take in response to a records request. A governmental entity is not required to: (Subsection (8)(a))

63G-2-201. Right to inspect records and receive copies of records.
. . . .(8) (a) In response to a request, a governmental entity is not required to: (i) create a record; . . ..

Even though not required, the governmental entity may still choose to accommodate the requester if doing so is reasonable. A governmental entity may provide the record in a particular format if it is able to do so reasonably and the requester agrees to pay the required fees. (Subsection (8)(b))

Access to records may not be hindered by its format. A governmental entity must be able to provide for proper public inspection and copy of public records even if they are electronic. (Subsection (11))

63G-2-201. Right to inspect records and receive copies of records.
. . . . (11) A governmental entity may not use the physical form, electronic or otherwise, in which a record is stored to deny, or unreasonably hinder the rights of a person to inspect and receive a copy of a record under this chapter.

Additionally, a governmental entity shall provide access to an electronic copy of a record in lieu of providing a paper copy if the requester prefers and the governmental entity maintains the record in electronic format, can provide the record without disclosing records with access restrictions, can segregate restricted records, and can provide the record without undue expenditures of resources. (Subsection (12))

Record copying, 63G-2-201(9)

If the request produces over 50 pages to copy, the governmental entity may allow the requester to do the copying if there are proper safeguards and there would be no disclosure of records with restricted access. The governmental entity may provide facilities for copying or allow the requester to provide his/her own facilities and personnel to do the work and waive the fees.