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Can an agency charge fees for scanning records?

The Public Records Act doesn’t adequately address technology advances like scanning and commonly refers only to “copies” or “photocopies”.  The PRA requires an agency to establish and make available for inspection a statement of its actual per page costs or other costs.  RCW 42.56.070(7).  In determining it’s actual per page cost, an agency may include staff time which is “directly related to the actual cost of copying the public records”.  RCW 42.56.070(7)(b).


(Cost, Electronic Records)
Last updated by Open Government Ombudsman at 6/30/2010 11:01:31 AM
When should an agency provide notice to third parties of a public records request?

The state Public Records Act states:

An agency has the option of notifying persons named in the record or to whom a record specifically pertains, that release of a record has been requested.  However, this option does not exist where the agency is required by law to provide such notice.


(Public Records Act)
Last updated by Open Government Ombudsman at 10/8/2009 2:17:03 PM
How does an agency calculate the time to initially respond to a public records request?

The Attorney General’s Open Government Internet Manual provides guidance on calculating the time to respond to a public records request: 

1.6 E.  An agency must respond to a request for public records within five business days of receipt of the request pursuant to RCW 42.56.520


(Public Records Act)
Last updated by Open Government Ombudsman at 8/27/2009 11:34:30 AM
What is a 'reasonable estimate'?

A reasonable estimate will vary depending on many factors, and may be revised depending on circumstances.

Agencies have a duty to make available public records for inspection and copying unless specific information or records are exempt by law.  RCW 42.56.070(1).  An agency must promptly respond to a request for public records within five business days.  RCW 42.56.520.  That initial response may be one of several answers such as:


(Public Records Act)
Last updated by Open Government Ombudsman at 8/13/2009 2:15:34 PM
May an agency disclose electronic records in an electronic format of their choice?

The Public Records Act doesn’t explicitly address disclosure of public records in an electronic format.

The Attorney General’s Model Rules provide non-binding advice on disclosure of electronic records in an electronic format.  Based on the Attorney General’s Model Rules, an agency “should” disclose reasonably locatable electronic records in an electronic format when requested.  WAC 44-14-050. The electronic format should be a commercially available format used by the agency, or an agency may also provide electronic records in an electronic format that is reasonably translatable from a different format used by the agency.


(Public Records Act, Electronic Records)
Last updated by Open Government Ombudsman at 8/13/2009 1:54:51 PM
Do patients have the right to inspect and copy their x-rays?

Washington state law (Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 70.02.080 ) addresses access to personal health care information as follows:

Patient's examination and copying — Requirements: (1) Upon receipt of a written request from a patient to examine or copy all or part of the patient's recorded health care information, a health care provider, as promptly as required under the circumstances, but no later than 15 working days after receiving the request, shall:


(Public Records Act, Medical Records)
Last updated by Open Government Ombudsman at 2/18/2011 10:50:49 AM
Are the administrative meetings of judges subject to the Open Public Meetings Act?

The Open Public Meetings Act applies to “all meetings of a governing body of a public agency”.  RCW 42.30.030.  The act defines a “public agency” as “Any state board, commission, committee, department, educational institution, or other state agency which is created by or pursuant to statute, other than courts and the legislature.”  RCW 42.30.020(1)(a) (Emphasis added).
(Open Public Meetings Act)
Last updated by Open Government Ombudsman at 7/28/2009 2:19:15 PM
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