State Records Committee Appeal 2013-18
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
REGINALD WILLIAMS, Petitioner, vs.
UTAH DEPARTMENT OF WORKFORCE SERVICES, Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 13-18
By this appeal, Petitioner, Reginald Williams, seeks access to records from Respondent, the Utah Department of Workforce Services (“DWS”).
On June 29, 2013, Mr. Williams filed a records request pursuant to the Utah Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”) with DWS for first and final bank statements for the American Recovery Reinvestment Act and Development Block Grant. These records were specific to a particular grant from the Federal Government. In a letter dated August 14, 2013, the Information Disclosure Officer for DWS denied the records request stating that the bank statements were classified as protected records under Utah Code § 63G-2-305(11) (2012), and the contracts with the financial institutions were not in the possession of DWS.
Mr. Williams filed an appeal claiming that records dealing with the receipt of funds by a governmental entity are public records pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-301(3)(e). In a letter dated September 5, 2013, Jon Pierpont, Executive Director for DWS, denied the appeal. Mr. Williams now appeals the denial of his request for records to the State Records Committee (“Committee”). The Committee having reviewed the arguments submitted by the parties and having heard oral argument and testimony, now issues the following Decision and Order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
1. GRAMA specifies that “all records are public unless otherwise expressly provided by statute.” Utah Code § 63G-2-201(2). Records that are not public are designated as either “private,” “protected,” or “controlled.” See, Utah Code §§ 63G-2-302, -303, -304 and -305.
2. Records of any account, voucher, or contract that deals with the receipt or expenditure of funds by a governmental entity are normally public but to the extent access is not expressly exempt from disclosure under Utah Code §§ 63G-2-201(3)(b), -302, -304, or -305. Utah Code § 63G-2-301(3)(e).
3. Records the disclosure of which would jeopardize the security of governmental property, governmental programs, or governmental recordkeeping systems from damage, theft or other appropriation or use contrary to law or public policy are protected records if properly classified by a governmental entity. Utah Code § 63G-2-305(12).
4. Mr. Williams argued pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-301(3)(e), the requested records involve receipt or expenditure of funds and therefore, should be normally public. Mr. Williams acknowledged that the records may contain bank information including account and routing numbers that should not be released to the public, and agreed to have this protected information redacted from the records.
5. DWS argued that bank information should be redacted from the records pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-305(12). DWS also stated that it did not possess the requested contracts.
6. After reviewing the arguments submitted by the parties, hearing oral arguments and testimony, the Committee finds that the bank statement records are public, but contain information that should be protected and therefore, redacted prior to disclosure to Mr. Williams. See, Utah Code §§ 63G-2-305(12) & -308. Accordingly, DWS shall allow Mr. Williams to have access to the bank statements after the requested records have been properly redacted.
7. The Committee also finds the testimony of DWS that it does not possess the requested contracts and that they are in the possession of the Utah Treasurer's Office to be credible. Therefore, DWS is not obligated to provide a record it does not possess to Mr. Williams.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of Petitioner, Reginald Williams, is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART as stated above.
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 § 63G-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.
Pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-403(14)(d), the government entity herein shall comply with the order of the Committee and, if records are ordered to be produced, file: (1) a notice of compliance with the records committee upon production of the records; or (2) a notice of intent to appeal. If the government entity fails to file a notice of compliance or a notice of intent to appeal, the Committee may do either or both of the following: (1) impose a civil penalty of up to $500 for each day of continuing noncompliance; or (2) send written notice of the entity's noncompliance to the Governor for executive branch entities, to the Legislative Management Committee for legislative branch entities, and to the Judicial Council for judicial branch agencies’ entities.
Entered this 23rd day of December 2013,
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
LEX HEMPHILL, Chairperson
State Records Committee