In order to ensure transparency, government records are generally open to the public. As a public university, PSU is subject to Oregon’s public records laws, which can be found in the Oregon Revised Statutes at Chapter 192.
Though university records are generally public, Oregon’s public records laws do provide for exceptions for records that the legislature has determined can be justifiably withheld. Though by no means an exhaustive list, below are several types of records exempt from disclosure:
- Personally identifiable student records protected under the FERPA
- Social security numbers
- Medical records
- Trade secrets
- Exemptions to ensure an individual’s personal safety
- Public employee address, phone number and birth date
- Criminal investigatory materials
- Test and exam materials
In addition, “faculty records” are excluded from the definition of public records and are, therefore, not subject to public records disclosure, pursuant to Oregon Administrative Rule 577, Division 40.
PUBLIC RECORDS PROCEDURE
PSU’s Office of General Counsel manages and responds to requests for public records. PSU has an on-line form that is available in PDF format, click here, which can be printed and faxed to (503) 725-2657, scanned and emailed to email@example.com, or delivered in person to the Office of General Counsel, located on the 8th floor of the Market Center Building. Accommodations are made upon request to ensure requesters with disabilities have equal access to PSU’s public records.
PSU’s Public Records Officer will acknowledge receipt of the request via email, unless the requester indicates a preference for another method of communication. If there is a cost for providing the records, PSU will notify the requester in advance. Payment must be received prior to release of the requested records. Because requests vary in complexity, PSU cannot ensure the records will be provided by a specific date. However, PSU makes every effort to provide the records in a timely manner.
PSU will not release records it determines are exempt from disclosure under Oregon law. If a record is withheld, PSU will notify the requester in writing, and identify the reason for the denial. A requester may appeal a denial to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office.
Requester will be notified in advance if there will be a fee to respond. Rates are assessed based on the actual labor costs associated with responding to the request. Fees must be paid in advance, and are calculated as follows:
- No fee if the response requires less than 15 minutes of staff time to complete.
- Up to $75 per hour if the response requires more than 15 minutes to complete.
- Up to $150 per hour for legal review, including redaction & segregation of exempt & non-exempt records.
- $0.25 cents per page for paper photocopies.
- Actual cost for delivery of records, such as postage or courier fees.
- Actual cost for use of material and equipment for reproduction of non-standard records, such as audio or video tapes.
- $5.00 per compact disc (CD). PSU will not use discs supplied by requester.
Oregon law allows government entities to reduce or waive fees when the request is made in the public interest and making the records available primarily benefits the general public. A requester who believes a fee waiver request has been unreasonably denied may petition the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office to review the denial.
PROCEDURE FOR PSU EMPLOYEES WHO RECEIVE PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS
PSU employees should direct inquirers to make their requests using the PDF request form, click here, or by contacting the Public Records Officer in the Office of General Counsel. If you are a PSU employee familiar with the nature or location of the requested records, it is very helpful to also contact the Public Records Officer directly. The Public Records Officer will then coordinate with you or other appropriate faculty or staff in identifying, collecting and providing any requested records subject to release.
Note that a subpoena is NOT a public records request; it is a court order. Notify the Office of General Counsel IMMEDIATELY if you are served with a subpoena. The court imposes strict and often very tight deadlines in responding to subpoenas.
PERSON TO CONTACT WITH QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PUBLIC RECORDS PROCESS
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Disclaimer: Materials presented are for general informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. An attorney should be consulted regarding the specific facts and circumstances associated with any legal matter. No warranties or representations are made as to the accuracy of any information presented here or at any of the websites to which a link is provided, and the inclusion of a link or reference is not intended to be or imply an endorsement. Any discrepancy between the information presented here and the official rules and policies of Portland State University is not intended to and does not alter or amend the official rules and policies.