Welcome to the Open Government Training web page of the Office of the Attorney General.
General Information & Instructions
Click on the dropdown boxes below for "General Information and Instructions." To take online training, scroll down to "Open Government Training Curriculum & Resources." For sample documentation, scroll down to "Last Step: Training Documentation."
Washington’s open government requirements are in state law. Open public records laws are in the Public Records Act at RCW 42.56. Open public meetings laws are in the Open Public Meetings Act at RCW 42.30. These are Washington’s “sunshine laws.” In addition, records management and retention laws are at RCW 40.14.
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. The Q&A guidance explains what training is required, and for which agency staff and officials.
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.
The Office of the Attorney General provides model rules for complying with the open public records laws, and technical assistance and training on 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 & A. Agencies can also design their own training.
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.
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.
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 below. Agencies can use these or other forms or procedures to document training.
Open Government Training Curriculum - Resources
Lesson (1) is a general overview. Lesson (2) provides basic training and other resources on the Public Records Act. Those resources include a training video, PowerPoint, and other educational materials such as legislative updates. Lesson (3) provides training and other resources on the Open Public Meetings Act. Those resources include a training video, PowerPoint, and other educational materials such as legislative updates. Lesson (4) provides basic records retention and management training. Lesson (5) provides supplemental Public Records Act training, designed especially for Public Records Officers. See Q & A guidance above to learn which lessons agency officials and staff must take.
- Lesson 1:
- Lesson 2:
- Lesson 3:
- Lesson 4:
- Lesson 5:
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.