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Open Records Request

Open Records Act Request

As an instrumentality of the state of Georgia, Georgia Highlands College is subject to the requirements of the Georgia Open Records Act (pdf) (ORA). O.C.G. A. § 50-18-70 (2012). Although exceptions apply, the ORA mandates open access of public records upon request and, when applicable, for a fee. Requests for records, regardless of whether they refer to the Open Records Act or whether it is in writing, should be sent to open.records@highlands.edu.

Records that are considered public and subject to disclosure “means all documents, papers, letters, maps, book, tapes, photographs, computer based or generated information, data, data fields, or similar material prepared and maintained or received by an agency or by a private person or entity in the performance of a service or function for or on behalf of an agency when such documents have been transferred to a private person or entity by an agency for storage or future governmental use.” O.C.G.A. § 50-18-70(b) (2).

 

How To Make An Open Records Request

Protocol for Handling Open Records Requests

Georgia Highlands College is committed to providing customer friendly service when responding to requests for public information. The College follows the guidelines set forth by the Georgia Board of Regents (BOR).  Virginia H. Siler, VPHR, serves as the College’s Open Records Officer for purposes of the Georgia Open Records Act. If you would like to request access to the College records pursuant to the Georgia Open Records Act, direct all requests to open.records@highlands.edu.

Response Requirements

Each Open Records request must be responded to within three business days; however that does not mean that materials have to be provided in three days. The law only requires the College to acknowledge receipt of the request, whether the materials are available, and the estimated time and cost to comply with the request.

The Open Records Officer will work in cooperation with the College departments to fulfill the requests. Because of the time requirements it is imperative for College departments to notify the Open Records Officer if the request will involve significant staff time. If significant time is involved,  consultation will occur with the Open Records Officer prior to fulfilling the request and prior to providing a time/cost estimate. In the official response, the requester will be informed of the associated costs and given the option to authorize the search or decline.

Costs to Fulfill Requests

While individuals have the right to request and receive public records, the College is not required to provide materials at no cost. The College has the right to assess a reasonable charge and therefore it is imperative to keep accurate records of the time estimated/involved in the search and retrieval of the documents. The rate that can be charged is the salary of the lowest-paid full-time employee, who, in the discretion of the Open Records Officer, has the necessary skill and training to respond to the request.  There is no charge for the first 15 minutes of the retrieval time. If copies are requested, the requester shall be charged twenty-five cents per page.

The Process

The Open Records Act provides for a number of legitimate exceptions. It is important that the requester and the College departments complying with an Open Records request to be specific concerning the requested information. There may be cases where information needs to be redacted or withheld for legal reasons. For questions and concerns of this nature, consult the Open Records Officer who will if necessary research with the BOR Legal Team to determine a resolution before the materials are compiled.

 

For more information and a complete text of the Georgia Open Records Act go to:  Georgia.gov.