Office of General Counsel

Arizona Public Records Law: Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is the Arizona Public Records Law?

The Arizona Public Records Law is a series of statutes (and court cases that interpret those statutes) that describe public access to government information and that make government agencies (including ASU) accountable to the public by granting a right of access to records. The statutes are available at: A.R.S. § 39-101 to -161 and A.R.S. § 15-1640.

 

What is a Public Record?

The phrase "public records" is not defined by statute, but has been interpreted to include all records made or received by public employees in performance of their jobs, including records intended to disseminate information to the public or to create a record of official transactions or government expenditures.

 

Who may make a request for records?

Anyone may ask to inspect (during regular office hours) any public records in the custody of any ASU employee. The request need not be in writing.

After a request is made, and before the records are produced, the custodian of the records must determine whether the documents requested are public records, whether any authorized grounds exist for denying public inspection, and whether a charge should be imposed. If you receive a public records request from a member of the media, please contact ASU Media Relations at (480) 965-3502. In other situations, the Office of General Counsel (480-965-4550) is available to answer questions.

 

Are there any exceptions to Arizona Public Records Law?

Yes. The following exceptions are construed narrowly. ASU employees are encouraged to consult with the Office of General Counsel before assuming that any of these exceptions apply.

  1. Certain statutes provide for confidentiality of records and exceptions to the public records law. Examples include:
    1. student records
    2. research records
    3. donor information
  2. If the release of a record would constitute an invasion of personal privacy and that invasion would outweigh the public's right to know, then the record may be redacted, and in some cases, withheld from production. For example, Arizona legal authorities have concluded that a person has a privacy interest in his or her birth date and that state employees have privacy interests in their home addresses and phone numbers.
  3. If disclosure of a record is detrimental to the best interests of the state, then the record may be redacted, or in some cases, withheld from production.

 

Can ASU charge the requesting party for the records?

Yes, ASU can charge to produce copies of records. The ASU employee receiving the request will need to ask whether the records are sought for a non-commercial use or a commercial use which will affect the cost to be charged.

The current schedule of fees charged by the ASU Office of General Counsel is available at http://www.asu.edu/counsel/policies/publicrecordsrequest.html. If the requestor asks for copies to be mailed, ASU may require payment in advance for any copying and postal charges.

 

As a University employee, what is my responsibility to preserve public records?

The law requires all ASU employees to maintain all records reasonably necessary or appropriate to maintain an accurate record of their official activities.

When ASU receives a request for public records, we are required to take steps to preserve the requested records.

 

Reviewed June 15, 2009


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