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PDFWAC 44-06-085

Response to Public Records Act requests.

(1) General. The office shall respond promptly to requests for records made under chapter 42.56 RCW, the Public Records Act. Within five business days of receiving a Public Records Act request at the main Olympia office, the office will assign the request a tracking number and log it in. The public records officer or designee will evaluate the request according to the nature of the request, clarity, volume, and availability of requested records.
(2) Response. Following the initial evaluation of the request, and within five business days of receipt of the request, the public records officer or designee will do one or more of the following:
(a) Make the records available for inspection or copying including:
(i) If copies are available on the office's website, provide an internet address and link on the website to specific records requested;
(ii) If copies are requested and payment of a deposit for the copies, if any, is made or other terms of payment are agreed upon and satisfied, send the copies to the requestor.
(b) Acknowledge receipt of the request and provide a reasonable estimate of when records or an installment of records will be available (the public records officer or designee may revise the estimate of when records will be available).
(c) Acknowledge receipt of the request and ask the requestor to provide clarification for a request or part of a request that is unclear, and provide, to the greatest extent possible, a reasonable estimate of time the office will require to respond to the unclear request or unclear part of a request if it is not clarified.
(i) Such clarification may be requested and provided by telephone and memorialized in writing, or by email or letter;
(ii) If the requestor fails to respond to a request for clarification and the entire request is unclear, the office need not respond to it. The office will respond to those portions of a request that are clear.
(d) Deny the request.
(3) Additional timeto respond. Additional time for the office to respond to a request may be based upon the need to clarify the request, locate and assemble the records requested, notify third persons or agencies affected by the request, or determine whether any of the information requested is exempt and that a denial should be made as to all or part of the request.
(4)(a) Communication encouraged. If the requestor has not received a response in writing or has questions or concerns regarding the records request, the requestor is encouraged to contact the public records officer.
(b) Reasonable estimate of time or costs. The office will provide an estimate of the time required to respond to the request, and may provide an estimate of copying costs pursuant to a specific request seeking an estimate of cost. If the requestor believes the amount of time or estimated costs stated are not reasonable, the requestor may petition the public records officer for a formal review under WAC 44-06-120.
(5) Third-party notice. In the event that the requested records contain information that may affect rights of others and may be exempt from disclosure, the public records officer or designee may, prior to providing the records, give notice to such others whose rights may be affected by the disclosure under RCW 42.56.540. Such notice should be given so as to make it possible for those other persons to contact the requestor and ask him or her to revise the request, or, if necessary, seek an order from a court to prevent or limit the disclosure. The notice to the affected persons will include a copy of the request.
(6) Exemptions from disclosure. Some records are exempt from disclosure, in whole or in part. If the office believes that a record or part of a record is exempt from disclosure and should be withheld, the public records officer or designee will state the specific exemption and provide a brief written explanation of why the record or a portion of the record is being withheld. If only a portion of a record is exempt from disclosure, but the remainder is not exempt, the public records officer or designee will redact the exempt portions, provide the nonexempt portions, and indicate to the requestor why portions of the record are being redacted.
(7) Inspection of records.
(a) Consistent with other demands, the office shall provide space to inspect public records at a location designated by the office. No member of the public may remove a document from the viewing area or disassemble or alter any document. The requestor shall indicate which documents he or she wishes the office to copy.
(b) The requestor must claim or review the assembled records within thirty days of the office's notification to him or her that the records are available for inspection or copying. The office will notify the requestor in writing of this requirement and inform the requestor that he or she should contact the office to make arrangements to claim or review the records. If the requestor or a representative of the requestor fails to claim or review the records within the thirty-day period or make other arrangements, the office may close the request and refile the assembled records. Multiple public records requests from the same requestor can be processed in a manner so as not to interfere with essential agency functions including processing records requests from other requestors.
(8) Providing copies of records. After inspection is complete and the requestor asks for copies of some or all of the inspected records, or where copies are otherwise requested by the requestor, the public records officer or designee shall make the requested copies or arrange for copying.
(a) Where the office charges for copies, the requestor must pay for the copies prior to the copies being provided to the requestor.
(b) Electronic records will be provided as a link to the records on the office's website if the records are located on the website, or in a format used by the office and which is generally commercially available. Records will generally not be provided by email, particularly for larger records responses with multiple records, or where records may not be successfully delivered or received via the office's or the requestor's email systems.
(9) Providing records in installments. When the request is for a large number of records, the public records officer or designee will provide access for inspection and copying in installments, if he or she reasonably determines that it would be practical to provide the records in that way. If, within thirty days, the requestor fails to inspect or pay for the entire set of records or one or more of the installments, the public records officer or designee may stop searching for or producing the remaining records and close the request.
(10) Completion of inspection. When the inspection of the requested records is complete and all requested copies are provided, the public records officer or designee will indicate that the office has completed a reasonable search for the requested records and made any located nonexempt records available for inspection.
(11) Closing withdrawn or abandoned request. When the requestor either withdraws the request, or fails to clarify an entirely unclear request, or fails to fulfill his or her obligations to inspect the records, pay the deposit, pay the required fees for an installment, or make final payment for the requested copies, the public records officer or designee will close the request and, unless the agency has already indicated in previous correspondence that the request would be closed under the above circumstances, indicate to the requestor that the office has closed the request.
(12) Later discovered documents. If, after the office has informed the requestor that it has provided all available records, the office becomes aware of additional responsive documents existing at the time of the request, it will promptly inform the requestor of the additional documents and provide them on an expedited basis.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 42.56.040, 42.56.100, 42.56.070, 42.56.120, 43.10.110, and 34.05.310 - 34.05.395. WSR 20-08-115, § 44-06-085, filed 3/31/20, effective 5/1/20. Statutory Authority: RCW 43.10.110, chapters 42.17 and 34.05 RCW. WSR 98-01-013, § 44-06-085, filed 12/5/97, effective 1/5/98. Statutory Authority: RCW 43.10.110, chapters 42.17, 19.118 and 34.05 RCW. WSR 94-13-039, § 44-06-085, filed 6/6/94, effective 7/7/94.]
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