IV. RECORD CATEGORIES -- OPEN OR CLOSED

Specific record categories listed in Section 92F-12 must be disclosed regardless of the applicability of grounds for applying any of the policy-based exemptions enumerated in Section 92F-13.

Other categories:

Civil Investigations.

Section 92F-13(2) excepts from disclosure government records pertaining to the prosecution or defense of any judicial or quasi-judicial action to which the State or any county is or may be a party to the extent that such records would not be discoverable. Section 92F-13(3) excepts from the UIPA's disclosure requirement government records that, by their nature, must be confidential in order for the government to avoid the frustration of a legitimate government function. See, e.g., Identities of Complainants to Department of Health Alleging Violations of Hawaii Labeling Laws, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 99-7 (Nov. 3, 1999) (Department of Health could withhold identities of informants by redacting the name and any information that could lead to the identification of the individual).

Section 96-9 requires the Ombudsman to "maintain secrecy" in respect to all matters and identities of complainants or witnesses.

Investigative reports are confidential if their disclosure would likely interfere with agency law enforcement activities, frustrate a legitimate government function, or reveal deliberative processes. An examination of all factors is necessary to determine whether such reports must be disclosed. See, e.g., RFO 98-004 - Honolulu Police Department; Request for Opinion on The Honolulu Advertiser; Request for Internal Affairs Reports, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 98-5 (Dec. 20, 1998) (opining that redacting portions of the report is appropriate to protect privacy interests and to prevent frustrating the agency's ability to conduct full and accurate investigations); DLNR Investigation Report Concerning the Pacific Whale Foundation, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 91-9 (July 18, 1991) (focusing on possible legal action as grounds for precluding disclosure of Department of Land and Natural Resources investigational report to a state legislator); Investigative Reports Concerning Molokai Ranch Ltd. and Perreira Ranch, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 91-6 (May 2, 1991) (holding that Department of Agriculture investigative reports concerning corporate agricultural operations are disclosable because the reports did not reveal confidential sources, deprive anyone of a right to an impartial adjudication, or reveal enforcement techniques or procedures).

On the other hand, in addressing access to an investigative report, the OIP has opined that an individual who filed a complaint with the Maui Police Commission must be permitted access to the Commission's investigative report under Part III of the UIPA, which permits individuals to access their own personal records. Disclosure of Police Commission File to Complaining Party, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 95-19 (Aug. 1, 1995). Upon finding that the investigative report was the complainant's and the officer's personal record, the OIP determined that the complainant could inspect and copy the record. Id.

License and Permit Applications.

Section 92F-14(b)(7) provides that "[i]nformation compiled as part of an inquiry into an individual's fitness to be granted or to retain a license" is information in which an individual has a substantial privacy interest, but excludes: (a) the record of disciplinary proceedings, (b) information on the current place of employment and required insurance coverage, and (c) the record of complaints. Cf. Access to Contractors License Application Experience Certificates Prior to the Contractors License Board Approval of the Application, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 97-10 (Dec. 30, 1997) (finding a significant privacy interest in experience certificates submitted with an application for a contractors license); Legislative Access to Professional and Vocational Licensing Application Data, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 90-10 (Feb. 26, 1990) (prohibiting even interagency disclosure and citing privacy concerns of both the UIPA and prior law); c.f. Applications for Appointments to Boards and Commissions, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 91-8 (June 24, 1991) (allowing interagency disclosure to the legislature of application information submitted to the governor's office but requiring confidentiality pursuant to privacy interests of applicants). But see Painting Industry of Hawaii Market Recovery Fund v. Alm, 69 Haw. 449, 453-54, 746 P.2d 79, 82 (1987) (refusing to protect licensing violation settlement agreement); Clarification of OIP Op. Ltr. No. 91-1, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 91-11 (July 30, 1991) (requiring disclosure pursuant to Section 452-9 governing applications received by the Board of Massage), superseding Public Access to Massage Therapist License Applications, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 91-1 (Feb. 15, 1991) (refusing access to pending applications under Section 92F-14(b)(7)). The law does not protect from disclosure "[r]osters of persons holding licenses or permits granted by an agency . . . ." Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-12(a)(13) (Supp. 1999) (requiring disclosure).

The Professional and Vocational Licensing Division of the State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs licenses various professionals. It maintains a computerized roster showing the name, address, and type of license held by each individual licensee. The names and type of license held by each individual are matters of public record. Att'y Gen. Op. Ltr. No. 84-13 (Dec. 18, 1984); see also OIP Op. Ltr. No. 91-11 (July 30, 1991) (concerning statutorily mandated disclosure of massage therapist license applications).

Vessel Registration Application forms are generally a matter of public record provided that certain personal information is segregated. Vessel Registration Information, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 99-3 (June 1, 1999). If an application is granted, the vessel registration applications may be disclosed only after segregation of the home address, home telephone number, date of birth and citizenship. Id. If the application is not granted, the name of the applicant should also be redacted. Id.

No comparable privacy interest exists for corporate entities. For instance, the Hawaii courts held that the City Building Department must permit public inspection of building permit applications, including all plans, specifications, and other documentation submitted to it, i.e., in connection with a condominium development. Pauoa-Pacific Heights Community Group vs. Building Dept., Civ. No. 59632 (Haw. 1st Cir. Nov. 7, 1979). The UIPA now explicitly requires the disclosure of building permit information within the control of an agency. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-12(a)(11). If architectural plans are protected by copyright, additional precautions may be necessary, but the copyright laws are not, in themselves, grounds for nondisclosure. Reconsideration of OIP Opinion Letter No. 90-20 Regarding Public Inspection and Duplication of Building Plans and Permit Applications, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 99-5 (Oct. 19, 1999) (reaffirming prior opinion that section 92F-12(a)(11) which mandates disclosure of building permit information includes information submitted before and after the issuance of a building permit); Public Inspection and Duplication of Building Plans and Permit Applications, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 90-20 (June 12, 1990).