Access to Public Records (815-RICR-00-00-2)


2.1 Authority

This Regulation is promulgated pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 38-2-1, et seq. (“Access to Public Records”) and 42-35-2(a).

2.2 Purpose

A. The Purposes of this Regulation are:

1. To establish a Regulation to implement R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 38-2-1, et seq. and 42-35-2(a) relating to access to public records maintained by the Division.

2. To identify and delineate categories of records exempt from disclosure; and

3. To provide the public and Division personnel with a Regulation that sets forth the rules and procedures applicable to access public records maintained by the Division.

2.3 Policy

The Division recognizes both the public’s right to access public records and the individual’s right to dignity and privacy. It is the Division’s policy to facilitate public access to all public records that may be disclosed in accordance with R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-1, et seq. It is also the policy of the Division to make all public records in the Division’s possession available for public inspection and copying consistent with applicable State or federal law, unless otherwise prohibited by a court of competent jurisdiction.

2.4 Procedure for Requesting Public Records

A. Except as provided § 2.5 of this Part, a written request to inspect or copy public records should be sent to the Division’s Clerk or, in the alternative, to the Division’s Department of Legal Services at the address listed above. Written requests may be mailed, hand delivered, e-mailed or sent via facsimile. Hand delivered requests may be made during the Division’s regular business hours. It is suggested, but not required, that requests be submitted on the form provided by the Division, a copy of which is attached hereto as Exhibit A, § 2.9 of this Part, and titled “Request to Inspect and/or Copy Public Records”. In order to assure that the Division is able to respond to the request as efficiently and as completely as possible, the request should identify and describe the records being requested with as such specificity as possible. A written record of all requests will be maintained by the Division’s Clerk.

B. If the description of records being requested is not sufficient to allow the Division to identify and locate the requested records, the Division will notify the person requesting such records that additional information is needed in order to properly respond to the request.

C. Upon receipt of a request for records, the Division will mark on the face of a written request the date the request was received. The Division will make every reasonable effort to honor the request within ten (10) business days of receipt of the written request.

D. If it appears that the request can not be honored within ten (10) business days of receipt, the Division will use its best efforts to notify the requester of the status of the request within ten (10) business days. For good cause, the time to respond to the request may be extended for a period not to exceed thirty (30) business days, inclusive of the original ten (10) business days.

E. A written request is not required to be submitted when the request is for any of the following:

1. documents prepared for or readily available to the public;

2. rules and written statements of policy or interpretations formulated, adopted, or used by the agency; or

3. final orders, decisions, and opinions.

2.5 Hours of Inspections

When a request is made to inspect public records (as opposed to obtain copies), the requester will be advised when the records are available and he/she can then make an appointment to inspect those documents at the Division between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The time frame for the Division to respond to requests to inspect public records is the same as the time frame applicable to responding to requests for copies of public records as set forth above in § 2.4 of this Part.

2.6 Fees

A. Official publications which the Division prepares in the discharge of its duties to inform the public on matters of public interest will be furnished free of charge when available.

B. The Division will supply one (1) copy of any of its Rules and Regulations to an individual requesting them free of charge. Rules and Regulations of the Division are on file at the Office of the Secretary of State and certified copies thereof may be obtained from that office. Rules and Regulations of the Division are also available online from the Secretary of State’s website as well as the Division’s website.

C. The Division charges a fee for copying and/or search and retrieval of requested documents consistent with applicable State law. The Division charges $0.15 per copied page; provided however, if the response to the request consists of twenty (20) or fewer copied pages, no fee will be charged. If the response to the request consists of more than twenty (20) copied pages, there will be a charge of $0.15 for each page. The Division will charge $15.00 per hour for the search and retrieval time required to respond to a request, whether the request seeks copies of records or the right to inspect records; provided however, there will be no charge for the first hour of search and retrieval time. The Division will provide the requester with an estimate of the copying costs and search and retrieval costs prior to responding to the request. The Division however, will charge the actual fees for the number of copies and the actual cost for search and retrieval time if those are more or less than estimated. The Division reserves the right to require a deposit of the estimated costs if the estimated costs are $50.00 or more.

D. The cost of copying and search and retrieval as provided in § 2.6(C) of this Part must be paid in advance of or at the time of delivery or inspection of the requested documents.

E. Division personnel or, where applicable an outside copy service, will make copies of requested records. The Division does not have a copy machine available for use by the public to make copies.

F. The Division may utilize the form attached hereto as Exhibit B (“Response to Request to Inspect and/or Copy Public Records”) § 2.10 of this Part to respond to a request; provided however, in some instances it may be appropriate for the Division to write a letter addressed to the requester setting forth such additional information as deemed appropriate under the circumstances.

2.7 Supervision of Inspections

A. The inspection of public records must be accomplished in a manner which will provide for general supervision by authorized Division staff. This is necessary to prevent the misplacement or unauthorized removal of records or any other action which may impair the integrity of the public record.

B. The Division’s Clerk shall have overall responsibility for the security of the public record. However, the Division Clerk may seek assistance from a staff member(s) to coordinate the functions and responsibilities related to the copying and inspection of public records.

C. All Division personnel assisting in responding to requests for access to public records shall be made aware by their supervisors, of the provisions of this regulation and the procedures to be followed when an access to public records request is made. Division personnel having any questions regarding the procedures to be followed should direct inquiries to: The Division Clerk or the Division’s Chief Legal Counsel.

2.8 Severability

If any provision of this Regulation or the application thereof to any individual or circumstances is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect the provisions or application of the remaining portions of the regulation which can be given effect. The provisions of these rules and regulations are declared to be severable.

2.9 Exhibit A

Request to Inspect and/or Copy Public Records form

2.10 Exhibit B

Response to Request to Inspect and/or Copy Public Records form (page 1 of 2)

Response to Request to Inspect and/or Copy Public Records form (page 2 of 2)

Title 815 Division of Public Utilities and Carriers
Chapter 00 General Administration
Subchapter 00 N/A
Part 2 Access to Public Records (815-RICR-00-00-2)
Type of Filing Technical Revision
Regulation Status Inactive
Effective 08/05/2010 to 01/04/2022

Regulation Authority:

R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 38-2-1, et seq. and 42-35-2(a).

Purpose and Reason:

This Technical Revision is being promulgated to reformat the rule into the RICR format for the Rhode Island Code of Regulations. There are no substantive changes.