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December 16, 1999

Mr. Leonard W. Peck, Jr.
Assistant General Counsel
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
P.O. Box 4004
Huntsville, Texas 77342

OR99-3511

Dear Mr. Peck:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID # 130914.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice ("the department") received a request for "my interview documentation form and the other selected applicant interview documentation form." You interpret the request as seeking the four interview questions and recommended responses contained in the information that you submitted for review. You claim that the requested questions and recommended responses are excepted from required public disclosure pursuant to section 552.122 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and have reviewed the information you submitted.

Section 552.122(b) of the Government Code excepts from required public disclosure "test item[s] developed by a . . . governmental body." In Open Records Decision No. 626 (1994), this office determined that the term "test item" in section 552.122 includes "any standard means by which an individual's or group's knowledge or ability in a particular area is evaluated," but does not encompass evaluations of an employee's overall job performance or suitability. Whether information falls within the section 552.122 exception must be determined on a case-by-case basis. Open Records Decision No. 626 at 6 (1994). Traditionally, this office has applied section 552.122 where release of "test items" might compromise the effectiveness of further examinations. Id. at 4-5; see also Open Records Decision No. 118 (1976).

After careful review, we have concluded that the requested information does not represent a "standard means by which an individual's . . . knowledge or ability in a particular area is evaluated." In our opinion, the four interview questions and recommended responses do not "measure the skill, knowledge, intelligence, capacities, or aptitudes of an individual." See Open Records Decision No. 626 at 6 (1994). Rather, we believe that they merely address the applicant's overall suitability for employment. Id. Accordingly, the department must release the requested information.

This letter ruling is limited to the particular records at issue in this request and limited to the facts as presented to us; therefore, this ruling must not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records or any other circumstances.

This ruling triggers important deadlines regarding the rights and responsibilities of the governmental body and of the requestor. For example, governmental bodies are prohibited from asking the attorney general to reconsider this ruling. Gov't Code 552.301(f). If the governmental body wants to challenge this ruling, the governmental body must appeal by filing suit in Travis County within 30 calendar days. Id. 552.324(b). In order to get the full benefit of such an appeal, the governmental body must file suit within 10 calendar days. Id. 552.353(b)(3), (c). If the governmental body does not appeal this ruling and the governmental body does not comply with it, then both the requestor and the attorney general have the right to file suit against the governmental body to enforce this ruling. Id. 552.321(a).

If this ruling requires the governmental body to release all or part of the requested information, the governmental body is responsible for taking the next step. Based on the statute, the attorney general expects that, within 10 calendar days of this ruling, the governmental body will do one of the following three things: 1) release the public records; 2) notify the requestor of the exact day, time, and place that copies of the records will be provided or that the records can be inspected; or 3) notify the requestor of the governmental body's intent to challenge this letter ruling in court. If the governmental body fails to do one of these three things within 10 calendar days of this ruling, then the requestor should report that failure to the attorney general's Open Government Hotline, toll free, at 877/673-6839. The requestor may also file a complaint with the district or county attorney. Id. 552.3215(e).

If this ruling requires or permits the governmental body to withhold all or some of the requested information, the requestor can appeal that decision by suing the governmental body. Id. 552.321(a); Texas Department of Public Safety v. Gilbreath, 842 S.W.2d 408, 411 (Tex. App.-Austin 1992, no writ).

If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. Although there is no statutory deadline for contacting us, the attorney general prefers to receive any comments within 10 calendar days of the date of this ruling.

Sincerely,

James W. Morris, III
Assistant Attorney General

BRP>Open Records Division

JWM/nc

Ref: ID# 130914

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Reginald Gilbert
1235 Josey Street, #167
Huntsville, Texas 77340
(w/o enclosures)


 

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