Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Open Government Resource Manual (PDF)


A Message from Attorney General Bob Ferguson

Greetings.  Welcome to the Washington State Attorney General’s Office 2015 Open Government Resource Manual.

This manual provides you information about our state’s Sunshine Laws.  I am committed to enhancing transparency in government.  Open government is vital to a free and informed society, and this updated guide will help both public officials and the people they serve understand our state’s open government laws.

This manual modernizes the prior online manual to reflect the past several years’ developments in the state’s Public Records Act and Open Public Meetings Act, and court decisions interpreting those laws. The manual includes summaries of and links to relevant statutes, court decisions, formal Attorney General Opinions, and Public Records Act Model Rules.

The manual was produced by my office with the assistance of attorneys representing media and requesters, and local and state government organizations.  If you have questions or comments about the contents of this manual, please contact Nancy Krier, the Assistant Attorney General for Open Government at nancyk1@atg.wa.gov.

My office seeks to be a resource for the public and for government entities on the state’s Public Records Act and the Open Public Meetings Act.  Please explore our website for training and other open government information at http://www.atg.wa.gov/open-government

Thank you for your interest in open transparent government.  I hope you find the open government manual informative and useful.

Bob Ferguson
Washington State Attorney General

Open Government Resource Manual

Last revised:  October 1, 2015

The Attorney General’s Open Government Resource Manual describes Washington’s open government laws as of the last update in 2015.  The manual was previously updated in 2007 by the Attorney General’s Office with the assistance of Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington and local and state government organizations.  Readers should be aware that court decisions issued or statutes enacted after the last revised date of the manual or a particular chapter may impact the law as summarized here.

The manual has an introduction and three chapters:

Chapter 1: Public Records Act – General and Procedural Provisions
Chapter 2: Public Records Act – Exemptions
Chapter 3: Open Public Meetings Act

The manual provides links to cited statutes, cases, Attorney General’s Opinions and rules.  More information on open government is available at the Attorney General’s Office Open Government Web page, the Washington Coalition for Open Government, the Municipal Research and Services Center, and other sources.

The current manual was written and edited by:

Nancy Krier, Assistant Attorney General for Open Government (Ombuds).

Bob Meinig, Legal Consultant with the Municipal Research and Services Center, which provides legal advice and other services to Washington local governments.

Kristal Wiitala, Public Records Officer for the Department of Social and Health Services.  Ms. Wiitala manages and coordinates the DSHS public records request program for the agency.

Katherine George, Attorney at the Harrison-Benis law firm.  Ms. George is a former reporter who works with and represents requesters and others on open government cases and issues.

If you have any questions or comments about the content of this manual, please contact the Attorney General’s Office Assistant Attorney General for Open Government.