Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

 

TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES  

 

 

See "Open Government Training" sessions on the Secretary of State's website below.

Registration for all sessions:
Secretary of State's Training Page
 

Training

 

Welcome to the Open Government Training web page of the Office of the Attorney General.

State Laws.  Washington’s open government requirements are in state law.  Open public records laws are at RCW 42.56.  Open public meetings laws are at RCW 42.30.  These are Washington’s “sunshine laws.”  In addition, records management and retention laws are at RCW 40.14.

Training is Required.  The Open Government Trainings Act requires many public officials and all agency records officers to receive training (RCW 42.56.150; RCW 42.56.152; RCW 42.30.205).  Here is guidance from the Office of the Attorney General: Open Government Trainings Act Q & A, 2017 supplement to the Q & A.

Why Training is Critical.  Public agencies must have a good command of these laws.  Training is a key component in correctly implementing and complying with the laws.  Training is an important risk management tool.  Training can help establish a “culture of compliance” within an agency.  Training can help avoid or reduce litigation and its costs.  Violations of the open public records and meetings laws can result in penalties, as well as a breakdown in confidence in government.

Training Resources. The Office of the Attorney General provides model rules for complying with the open public records laws, and technical assistance and training on open public records and open public meetings laws.  On this web page, the office also provides access to other free online resources for open government training.  As more resources become available, they will be posted or linked here.  Agencies may also contact the office to seek in-person training assistance.  Agencies may contact the Assistant Attorney General for Open Government.

Training materials and/or speakers may also be available to agencies from other sources.  Examples are listed after the curriculum* and in the Open Government Trainings Act Q & A and in the  2017 supplement to the Q & AAgencies can also design their own training.

Online Training Curriculum.  The online training curriculum is divided into five lessons. The first three address the basics of open government: (1) Open Government Overviews and General Principles, (2) Open Public Records Act, and (3) Open Public Meetings Act.  Lesson (4) addresses Records Management and Retention. Lesson (5) provides supplemental Public Records Act training, especially designed for Public Records Officers. Agencies can use materials that fit their training requirements or needs. 

Lesson (1) is a general introductory overview.  It is offered to give background on open government laws generally.

Lessons (2) – (5) provide online training that complies with the Open Government Trainings Act (RCW 42.56.150, RCW 42.56.152 and RCW 42.30.205).  Please reference these steps to take the online training.

Finally, this short video featuring Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Secretary of State Kim Wyman also explains that this important training can be taken online.

Reminder:  Laws Change.  The Washington State Legislature can amend the sunshine and records management/retention laws.  Courts also issue decisions interpreting these laws.  Agencies should review current laws and decisions to determine if training materials they use are consistent with the current laws, and whether they should be updated.  If there is a difference, the laws govern.  Legislative updates will also be posted on this page.

Practice Tip:  Document the Training.  Agencies should determine which staff and/or officials are required to or should receive training.  It is a good practice for agencies to document training provided or received by their staff or officials.  See the Open Government Trainings Q & A for more details.  This web page includes a sample training certificate and a sample training roster.  Agencies can use other forms or procedures to document training.

 


Open Government Training Curriculum - Resources

 

Lesson (1) is a general overview.  Lessons (2) and (3) provide particular basic training and other resources on the Open Public Records Act and the Open Public Meetings Act. Lesson (4) provides basic records retention and management training. Lesson (5) provides supplemental Public Records Act training, designed especially for Public Records Officers. 

LESSON 1:  OPEN GOVERNMENT OVERVIEWS AND GENERAL PRINCIPLES  

Other Resources:

 


LESSON 2:  OPEN PUBLIC RECORDS ACT BASICS – RCW 42.56  

  • Office of the Attorney General PowerPoint – Open Public Records Act (PowerPoint / PDF

Other Resources:

 


 
LESSON 3:  OPEN PUBLIC MEETINGS ACT – RCW 42.30  

 

  • Office of the Attorney General PowerPoint – Open Public Meetings Act (PowerPoint / PDF)

Other Resources:

 


Records Retention/Management Curriculum - Resources

 
LESSON 4:  RECORDS MANAGEMENT AND RETENTION Basics – RCW 40.14  

Other Resources:

 For more information, contact State Archives at (360) 586-4901 or by email at recordsmanagement@sos.wa.gov.

 


 

LESSON 5:  SUPPLEMENTAL PUBLIC RECORDS ACT TRAINING - RCW 42.56

This training supplements the Public Records Act Basics training in Lesson 2.  This supplemental training provides two videos:  one on electronic records training for Public Records Officers, and one on exemptions from disclosure.  Additional resources on those topics are linked below the videos. 

Electronic Records

Other Resources:

 

Exemptions

Other Resources:

  • See Office of the Code Reviser – Annual List of Exemptions Provided to Public Records Exemptions Accountability Committee (“Sunshine Committee”) – “Public Disclosure Statutes” (Listed by year)

LAST STEP:  TRAINING DOCUMENTATION  

* Examples of other possible sources for training materials and/or speakers include the Washington Secretary of State’s Office (records management/retention), the Municipal Research and Services Center, the Association of Washington Cities, the Washington Association of County Officials, the Washington State Association of Counties, the Washington Association of Public Records Officers, the Washington State School Directors Association, the Washington Coalition for Open Government, and others.