|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
September 11, 2000
Ms. Julie Joe
Dear Ms. Joe:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 138964.
The Office of the Attorney General (the "attorney general") received a request for personnel information on Rebecca Payne. You state that some of the requested information, including a copy of the final audit, has been released to the requestor. You claim that portions of the remaining information are excepted from disclosure under sections 552.116 and 552.117 of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions you claim and reviewed the submitted representative sample of the requested information.(1)
The attorney general seeks to withhold some of the submitted documents under section 552.116 of the Government Code as audit working papers. Section 552.116 provides as follows:
(a) An audit working paper of an audit of the state auditor or the auditor of a state agency or institution of higher education as defined by Section 61.003, Education Code, is excepted from [required public disclosure]. If information in an audit working paper is also maintained in another record, that other record is not excepted from [required public disclosure] by this section.
(b) In this section:
(1) 'Audit' means an audit authorized or required by a statute of this state or the United States and includes an investigation.
(2) 'Audit working paper' includes all information, documentary or otherwise, prepared or maintained in conducting an audit or preparing an audit report, including:
(A) intra-agency and interagency communications; and
(B) drafts of the audit report or portions of those drafts.
Gov't Code § 552.116. You indicate, and the documents reflect, that the attorney general's Internal Audit Office initiated an internal audit of the Open Records Division. You explain that this audit was authorized by sections 2102.003 and 2102.008 of the Government Code, the Texas Internal Auditing Act. Based on your representations and our review of the documents, we agree that the submitted documents are audit working papers that are excepted from disclosure under section 552.116.
You also assert that Ms. Payne's social security number must be withheld under section 552.117 of the Government Code. Section 552.117(1) requires that you withhold the home address, telephone number, social security number, or information revealing whether a public employee has family members, of a public employee or official who requests that this information be kept confidential under section 552.024. See Open Records Decision Nos. 622 (1994), 455 (1987). In the instant case, Ms. Payne has elected not to allow public access to this information in accordance with the procedures of section 552.024. Therefore, the attorney general must withhold this information from required public disclosure pursuant to section 552.117(1).
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).
Please remember that under the Act the release of information triggers certain procedures for costs and charges to the requestor. If records are released in compliance with this ruling, be sure that all charges for the information are at or below the legal amounts. Questions or complaints about over-charging must be directed to the General Services Commission at 512/475-2497.
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# 138964
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Ms. Gretchen Swanz
1. In reaching our conclusion here, we assume that the "representative sample" of records submitted to this office is truly representative of the requested records as a whole. See Open Records Decision Nos. 499 (1988), 497 (1988). This open records letter does not reach, and therefore does not authorize the withholding of, any other requested records to the extent that those records contain substantially different types of information than that submitted to this office.
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