Barry Fukunaga, Gov. Linda Lingle’s chief of staff, yesterday provided a formal acknowledgement of my Feb. 8th request for disclosure of e-mail to and from the governor’s office over a 4-day period. So far, everything has been “by the book”, with delays typical of such requests.
The notice was received within the 10-day window specified by rules adopted by the Office of Information Practices. The notice says the governor’s office requires additional time beyond an initial 10 day period because it “must consult with another person to determine whether the record is exempt from disclosure”.
Interestingly, although the initial reply from Fukunaga indicated that all such requests are processed by the Attorney General on behalf of the governor’s office, this acknowledgment identifies the Office of the Governor as the one responsible for responding. It isn’t clear at this point whether the need to consult “with another person” refers to the Attorney General or to someone else.
Here is the section of OIP rules covering deadlines when extenuating circumstances exist.
§2-71-15 Extenuating circumstances; incremental disclosures.
(a) As used in this chapter, extenuating circumstances exist when:
(1) The agency must consult with another person to determine whether the record is exempt from disclosure under chapter 92F, HRS;
(2) The request requires extensive agency efforts to search, review, or segregate the records, or otherwise prepare the records for inspection or copying;
(3) The agency requires additional time to respond to the request in order to avoid an unreasonable interference with its other statutory duties and functions; or
(4) A natural disaster or other situation beyond the agency’s control prevents the agency from sending a notice or responding to the request within ten business days.
(b) When extenuating circumstances are present, and when the requested records are voluminous, an agency may, in good faith, elect to make the records available in increments and shall:
(1) Send a notice in accordance with section 2-71-14; provided that the agency may instruct the requester in the notice to pay a specified portion of the estimated fees before the agency processes each increment in lieu of making one prepayment under section 2-71-19; and
(2) Disclose each increment within twenty business days after either:
(A) The prior incremental disclosure, when receiving one prepayment in accordance with section 2-71-19; or
(B) Receipt of each incremental prepayment required under this rule.
(c) If an agency processes a request in increments, the agency shall do so until:
(1) All requested records have been disclosed; or
(2) The requester abandons the request.
Next step should be a more substantive assessment of whether the e-mails will be disclosed, in whole or in part.
This request is part of a multi-state effort dubbed the Sunshine Blogger Project, which aims at a broader assessment of how well states are doing in opening up government records.