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AGLO 1981 No. 18 - July 23, 1981
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Ken Eikenberry | 1981-1992 | Attorney General of Washington

OFFICES AND OFFICERS ‑- STATE ‑- ARCHIVIST ‑- PUBLIC RECORDS ‑- STATUS OF MACHINE READABLE RECORDS UNDER CHAPTER 40.14 RCW

The term "public records," as defined in RCW 40.14.010, includes machine readable records, i.e., records on computer magnetic tapes, disc storage files, punch cards and other machine readable media.

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                                                                    July 23, 1981

Honorable Sidney F. McAlpin
State Archivist
218 General Administration Bldg.
Olympia, Washington 98504                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1981 No. 18

Dear Mr. McAlpin:

            This is written in response to your recent request for our opinion on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            Does the term "public records," as defined in RCW 40.14.010, include machine readable records,i.e., records on computer magnetic tapes, disc storage files, punch cards and other machine readable media?

            We answer your question in the affirmative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Chapter 40.14 RCW relates to the preservation and destruction of public records.  For the purposes thereof, RCW 40.14.010 defines "public records" as follows:

            "As used in this chapter, the term 'public records' shall include any paper, correspondence, form, book, photograph, film, sound recording, map drawing, or other document,regardless of physical form or characteristics, and including all copies thereof, that have been made by or received by any agency of the state of Washington in connection with the transaction of public business, and legislative records as described in RCW 40.14.100.

            ". . ."  (Emphasis supplied)

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            In view of the breadth of this definition, and the above‑underscored phrase ". . . regardless of physical form or characteristics, . . ." we can conceive of no possible basis for anything other than an affirmative answer to the question which you have posed.  The statute, in our opinion, is plain, clear and unambiguous and means precisely what it says.

            We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

KENNETH O. EIKENBERRY
Attorney General

PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Deputy Attorney General

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