Access to Public Records Regulation (810-RICR-00-00-2)
This Regulation is promulgated pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 38-2-1, et seq. (“Access to Public Records”) and 42-35-2(a).
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 Commission.
2. To identify and delineate categories of records exempt from disclosure; and
3. To provide the public and Commission personnel with a Regulation which sets forth the rules and procedures applicable to access to public records maintained by the Commission.
The Commission recognizes both the public’s right to access public records and the individual’s right to dignity and privacy. It is the Commission’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 Commission to make all public records in the Commission’s possession be 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 in § 2.5 of this Part, a written request to inspect or copy public records should be sent to the Commission Clerk who maintains the records requested or, in the alternative, to the Commission Counsel at 89 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick, RI 02888. Written requests may be mailed, hand delivered, e-mailed or sent via facsimile. Hand delivered requests may be made during the Commission’s regular business hours. It is suggested, but not required, that requests be submitted on the form provided by the Commission, a copy of which is attached hereto as Exhibit A in § 2.9 of this Part and titled “Request to Inspect and/or Copy Public Records”. In order to assure that the Commission 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 much specificity as possible. A written record of all requests will be maintained by the Commission Clerk.
B. If the description of records being requested is not sufficient to allow the Commission to identify and locate the requested records, the Commission 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 Commission Clerk or Commission Counsel will mark on the face of a written request the date the request was received. The Commission 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 cannot be honored within ten (10) business days of receipt, the Commission will provide the requester of the status of the request within ten (10) business days. However, in the event a requestor does not provide identifying or contact information, the Commission will use its best efforts to notify the requestor of the status of the request within ten (10) 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 Commission between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The time-frame for the Commission 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.
A. Official publications which the Commission 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 Commission 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 Commission 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 Commission are also available online from the Secretary of State’s website as well as the Commission’s website.
C. The Commission charges a fee for copying and/or search and retrieval of requested documents consistent with applicable state law. The Commission 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 Commission 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 Commission will provide the requester with an estimate of the copying costs and search and retrieval costs prior to responding to the request. The Commission 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 Commission 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 in § 2.3 of this Part must be paid in advance of or at the time of delivery or inspection of the requested documents.
E. Commission personnel or, where applicable an outside copy service, will make copies of requested records. The Commission does not have a copy machine available for use by the public to make copies.
F. The Commission may utilize the form attached hereto as Exhibit B in § 2.10 of this Part (“Response to Request to Inspect and/or Copy Public Records”) to respond to a request; provided however, in some instances it may be appropriate for the Commission 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 Commission 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 Commission Clerk, or Staff Member having possession of the public record requested shall have overall responsibility for the security of the public record. However, the individual in charge may designate a staff member(s) to coordinate the functions and responsibilities related to the copying and inspection of public records.
C. All personnel responsible for 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. Commission personnel having any questions regarding the procedures to be followed should direct inquiries to:
1. The Commission Clerk who is responsible for the activity/function to which the public record being requested relates; or
2. In the event that the public record cannot be readily categorized as falling under the responsibility of Commission, the request should be directed to the Commission Counsel which will serve as a resource in matters relating to the public's access to public records.
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
2.10 Exhibit B
|Title||810||Public Utilities Commission|
|Part||2||Access to Public Records Regulation (810-RICR-00-00-2)|
|Type of Filing||Technical Revision|
Regulation Authority :
R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 38-2-1, et seq. (“Access to Public Records”) and 42-35-2(a)
Purpose and Reason :
This Technical Revision being promulgated to reformat the rule into the RICR format for the Rhode Island Administrative Code. There are no substantive changes.