Utah Department of Administrative Services

Division of Archives & Records Service

Decisions and Orders 2004-2006

State Records Committee Appeal 06-10

Page Title

BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH

SOUTHERN UTAH WILDERNESS ALLIANCE, Petitioner, vs.

UTAH DIVISION OF OIL, GAS and MINING, Respondent.

DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 06-10

By this appeal, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) seeks access to records and a waiver of the fee assessed by the Division. The State Records Committee, having reviewed the materials submitted by the parties, having heard oral argument and testimony on October 12, 2006, now issues the following Decision and Order.

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION

1. The Government Records Access and Management Act ("GRAMA") specifies that "all records are public unless otherwise expressly provided by statute." Utah Code Ann. 63-2-201(2). Records that are not public are designated as either "private," "protected," or "controlled." See Utah Code Ann. 63-2-302, -303 and -304. A governmental entity may charge a reasonable fee to cover the Governmental Agencies' actual cost of compiling, search retrieval, other direct administrative and duplication costs. See Utah Code Ann. 63-2-203. The Department denied SUWA copies of the records they seek on the grounds that per Utah Code Ann 63-2-203 fees for the actual cost of staff not exceeding the salary of the lowest paid employee with the necessary skills to perform the request for summarizing, compiling, search, retrieval and other direct costs of compilation in complying with SUWA's request are not to be waived, but reduced by one half and must be paid prior to the release of copies said records. The fee for a records request may be waived or reduced pursuant to Utah Code Ann. 63-2-203(4) and (6)(b). The records remain available for on site inspection by SUWA.

2. The committee is persuaded that the fee is reasonable per Utah Code Ann. 63-2-103 and there is no statutory requirement which provides for prior notice to a requestor of compilation fees. The Committee is further persuaded that inspection of said records is available per 63-2-202, on site at any reasonable time.

3. The Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining has properly assessed fees for the actual cost of staff not exceeding the salary of the lowest paid employee with the necessary skills to perform the request for summarizing, compiling, search, retrieval and other direct costs of compilation of records complying with SUWA's request. See Utah Code Ann. 63-2-203 (1), (2)(a) and (2)(b).

ORDER

THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of SUWA for a reduction of fees is denied. The Department's determination regarding the actual cost of staff time for summarizing, compiling, search, retrieval and other direct administrative costs for complying with SUWA'S request is affirmed. Said records shall be available for onsite inspection by SUWA, but copies shall not be released to SUWA until such time as the fee is paid in full.

RIGHT TO APPEAL

Either party may appeal this Decision and Order to the District Court. The petition for review must be filed no later than thirty (30) days after the date of this order. The petition for judicial review must be a complaint. The complaint and the appeals process are governed by the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure and Utah Code Ann. 63-2-404. The court is required to make its decision de novo. In order to protect its rights on appeal, a party may wish to seek advice from an attorney.

Entered this 18th day of October, 2006

BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE

Patricia Smith Mansfield, Chairperson
State Records Committee