As we prepare to begin a new academic year, I'd like to refresh your understanding of the Washington State Public Records Act, which defines the public's right to access public records in the context of a broad mandate for open government. It is important to understand the scope of this act and the requirements it imposes on public agencies and their employees, including those at the University of Washington.
As a member of the University's staff and faculty, you are required to fully assist the University in responding to requests for public records. This includes promptly responding to all requests for assistance from the UW Public Records Office, which has oversight responsibility for ensuring that the University complies with the Public Records Act.
When the UW Public Records Office asks you to search for records responsive to a public records request, you must undertake a complete search for any and all records described in the request, including electronic records and records stored off-site. All records identified as responsive to a request must be provided to the UW Public Records Office. This includes records you consider confidential, documents that may be covered by attorney-client privilege, documents that have passed their retention period but have been retained, or documents that could have been disposed of per contractual obligations but were not.
When the University receives a public records request, all documents maintained in any format, hard copy, electronic or otherwise, that are involved in the request must be maintained and may not be destroyed or altered until the University has fully complied with the request.
A more complete statement of what to do in the event of a public records request is available for your review. Please take a moment to read it. Thanks very much and best wishes.
B. Bruce Bare, Dean