44-14-03003  <<  44-14-03004 >>   44-14-03005

Organization of records.

An agency must "protect public records from damage or disorganization." RCW 42.17.290/42.56.100. An agency owns public records (subject to the public's right, as defined in the act, to inspect or copy nonexempt records) and must maintain custody of them. RCW 40.14.020; chapter 434-615 WAC. Therefore, an agency should not allow a requestor to take original agency records out of the agency's office. An agency may send original records to a reputable commercial copying center to fulfill a records request if the agency takes reasonable precautions to protect the records. See WAC 44-14-07001(5).
The legislature encourages agencies to electronically store and provide public records:
Broad public access to state and local government records and information has potential for expanding citizen access to that information and for providing government services. Electronic methods of locating and transferring information can improve linkages between and among citizens...and governments. ...
It is the intent of the legislature to encourage state and local governments to develop, store, and manage their public records and information in electronic formats to meet their missions and objectives. Further, it is the intent of the legislature for state and local governments to set priorities for making public records widely available electronically to the public.
RCW 43.105.250. An agency could fulfill its obligation to provide "access" to a public record by providing a requestor with a link to an agency web site containing an electronic copy of that record. Agencies are encouraged to do so. For those without access to the internet, an agency could provide a computer terminal at its office.
[Statutory Authority: 2005 c 483 § 4, RCW 42.17.348. WSR 06-04-079, § 44-14-03004, filed 1/31/06, effective 3/3/06.]
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