Office of the Vice President for
Administration and Finance
SECTION: GENERAL INDEX: A-34
SUBJECT: PUBLIC INFORMATION (OPEN RECORDS) POLICY
Texas Government Code, Chapter 552, gives the public the right to request access to government information. University of Houston-Victoria (“University”) records fall within the definition of public information and are presumed to be open and available to the public unless an exception applies to the disclosure of the information. By law, the University has an obligation to promptly release requested information not confidential or otherwise protected by law or judicial decision, or for which an exception to disclosure has not been requested by the University of Houston System (“UHS”) Office of General Counsel. In accordance with the provisions of University of Houston System Administrative Memorandum (“SAM”) 03.H.02, all requests for public information shall be coordinated through the UHS Office of General Counsel, following the procedures described in this policy. The UHS Office of General Counsel is the only department that is authorized to respond to Texas Public Information Act requests.
Under the Texas Public Information Act, Public Information includes information recorded in any medium (whether electronically or on paper, audio or video tape, microfilm, etc.) that is collected, assembled, or maintained by that agency or by another person or entity on behalf of the agency and the agency either owns the information or has a right of access to it. See Texas Government Code § 552.002.
- University personnel receiving requests for disclosure of information or records must ask that the request be put in writing and directed to the appropriate custodian of the requested information or records. All requestors should be treated uniformly and personnel should not ask why the requestor wants the information. The request does not have to cite a specific law or statute, nor does it have to be on a special form. A request may be typed or handwritten; however, it must contain enough information to identify the information requested, the requestor's name, and a means to communicate with said requestor (e.g., address, telephone number, etc.). Additionally, the request must be for information that is in existence at the time of the request.
- Requests for public information can be delivered by mail, e-mail, fax, or in person – all are acceptable.
- Requests by fax or e-mail must be addressed and delivered to the UHS General Counsel, UHS designee for Texas Public Information Act requests.
- Because a timeline is triggered when the written
request is received, the request must be forwarded the same day to the
appropriate administrator as follows:
- Administrative related – forward to the Director of Business Services.
- Academic related – forward to the Provost.
- The Provost’s Office or the Department of Business Services, as appropriate will then forward the written request immediately to the UHS Office of General Counsel. The requests should be faxed to the UHS Office of General Counsel or, if not practical, sent via over-night mail. The requests for public information faxed or sent by overnight mail to the UHS Office of General Counsel should be accompanied by the “Request for OGC Advice” form as a cover letter.
- Once the UHS Office of General Counsel receives the request, that office will coordinate the release of any requested information and will determine whether the information is to be released, or whether it may fall within an exception to disclosure under the Texas Public Information Act. If an exception is claimed, the UHS Office of General Counsel must request an opinion from the Attorney General of Texas within 10 business days of the original receipt of the request by the University.
- The appropriate charges to the requester for recovery of costs (e.g., duplication of copies, computer resource charges, personal charges, etc., if any, for compliance with the request and for providing the requested information) will be determined by the UHS Office of General Counsel, in consultation with campus officials, using the guidelines published by the Texas Building and Procurement Commission.
EXAMPLES OF PUBLIC INFORMATION
Information that is commonly requested and generally considered to be public information under the Texas Public Information Act, includes, but is not limited to, University budget and financial information, directory information of University students who have not requested in writing that the University keep their directory information private, most personnel and employment information, and University policies and procedures.
Not later than the 10th of each month, each state agency is required to prepare and submit electronically, a monthly report of Texas Public Information Act requests and related information, to the Texas Building and Procurement Commission.
Reporting categories include requests for agency publications; budget information; contract information; expenditures/revenue information; financial information; information regarding agency policies and procedures; litigation information (pending); litigation information (closed); meeting (agendas); meeting (minutes and backup materials); names and voting records of agency officials; permit/license applications; personnel information; purchase orders; regulatory/reporting information; rules; student directory information; statistical information; administrative rulings/final orders; police reports (offense, accidents, etc.); criminal investigations; right of access information; and other properly submitted Texas Public Information Act requests.
The University’s Department of Business Services is responsible for preparing and submitting the monthly report with departmental assistance as required. A hardcopy of each electronic report will be printed and kept on file in Business Services. The UHS Office of General Counsel will also be provided with either a copy of the monthly report or a link to the report. Annual surveys that may also be required by the State will likewise be prepared by the University’s Department of Business Services.
Approved:Signature obtained 11/28/06
Tim Hudson, Ph.D. Date
Next review date: February 2008
Origination: Business Services Department
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