|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
June 22, 2000
Mr. James L. Hall
Dear Mr. Hall:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 136477.
The Department of Criminal Justice (the "department") received a request for information relating to a desk audit conducted for the TDCJ-ID Laundry Services, including responses and recommendations from both the State Classification Officer and Laundry Services Headquarters. You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under sections 552.106 and 552.116 of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions you claim and reviewed the submitted information.
Section 552.106(a) protects drafts and working papers involved in the preparation of proposed legislation. The purpose of the exception is similar to that of section 552.111: to encourage frank discussion on policy matters between the subordinates or advisors of a legislative body and the legislative body and to thereby protect the internal "deliberative" or policy-making processes of a governmental body. Open Records Decision No. 460 (1987). Section 552.106 does not except purely factual material, but rather excepts only policy judgments, recommendations, and proposals involved in the preparation of proposed legislation. Section 552.106 applies only to drafts and working papers prepared by persons with some official responsibility to prepare them for the legislative body. Id.
You assert that the submitted information consists of working papers that are associated with the preparation of proposed legislation for the next session of the legislature. After reviewing these documents, we conclude that the submitted information may be withheld from public disclosure pursuant to section 552.106(a) of the Government Code. Because section 552.106 is dispositive, we do not address your other claimed exception.
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.
Ref: ID# 136477
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Mr. David Hortman
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US