NJ Department of Human Services 2013 OPRA Log

Beryl Lipton filed this request with the Department of Human Services of New Jersey.
Tracking # W86296
Status
Rejected

Communications

From: Sheila Hill

Dear Ms. Lipton,
The Department of Human Services received your Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request on May 5, 2014. As such, the seven (7) business day deadline to respond to your request is May 14, 2014. This response to your request is being provided to you on the 4th business day after the custodian’s receipt of said request.
Your OPRA request sought access to the following:
A list of all requests filed with the Department of Human Services under New Jersey's Open Public Records Act(OPRA) during the year 2013. For each request, the list should contain the identity of the requester, the date of the request, a description of the requested records, and the status of the request.

Your request is denied. Please be advised that other entities’ OPRA requests are exempt from disclosure under OPRA, as are the responses of government agencies to those OPRA requests. The Appellate Division has recognized that there is an “interest of third parties in protecting the confidentiality of their requests for access to public documents” under OPRA. Gannett N.J. Partners, LP v. Cnty. Of Middlesex, 379 N.J. Super. 205, 212 (App. Div. 2005). For that reason, “OPRA does not authorize a party to make a blanket request for every document a public agency has provided another party in response to an OPRA request, “ nor does it permit requests that would reveal “the nature and scope of a third party’s inquiry to a government agency.” Ibid. Further, OPRA exempts “information which, if disclosed, would give an advantage to competitors, “ N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1.1, such as the disclosure of matters being investigated by news organizations to potential competitors of those news organizations.
If your request for access to a government record has been denied or unfilled within the seven (7) business days required by law, you have a right to challenge the decision by the Department of Human Services to deny access. At your option, you may either institute a proceeding in the Superior Court of New Jersey or file a complaint with the Government Records Council (GRC) by completing the Denial of Access Complaint Form. You may contact the GRC by toll-free telephone at 866-850-0511, by mail at P.O. Box 819, Trenton, NJ, 08625, by e-mail at grc@dca.state.nj.us, or at their web site at www.state.nj.us/grc. The GRC can also answer other questions about the law. All questions regarding complaints filed in Superior Court should be directed to the Court Clerk in your County.


Sheila M. Hill, Technical Program Assistant
Office of Legal and Regulatory Affairs
Department of Human Services
P.O. Box 700
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0700
Phone: 609-984-5099
Fax: 609-633-9610

This E-mail, including any attachments, may be intended solely for the personal and confidential use of the sender and recipient(s) named above. This message may include advisory, consultative and/or deliberative material and, as such, would be privileged and confidential and not a public document. Any Information in this e-mail identifying a client of the Department of Human Services is confidential. If you have received this e-mail in error, you must not review, transmit, convert to hard copy, copy, use or disseminate this e-mail or any attachments to it and you must delete this message. You are requested to notify the sender by return e-mail.

From: Beryl Lipton

Hello Ms. Hill,

Thank you for your response to my request for the Department of Human Services's log of 2013 OPRA requests. I hope that you can please clarify the reasons for which the request has been rejected.

It seems as though the list of requests, their statuses, and the other basic data necessary for inventory and organizational purposes (the agency’s OPRA log) is a standard government public record. As such it should be available under OPRA. As indicated on page 7 of the New Jersey Open Public Records Act Handbook for Records Custodians, “All government records are subject to public access unless specifically exempt under OPRA or any other law.” I don’t see the record in question as being specifically exempted by the case to which you referred nor was it covered by the specific exemptions contained in OPRA; the exemption for “information which, if disclosed would give an advantage to competitors” does not seem to apply in this case.

Page six of the attached version of the case referred to in your response (Gannett N.J. Partners, LP v. Cnty. of Middlesex, 379 N.J. Super. 205, 212 (App. Div 2005)) includes the reasoning mentioned in your rejection, specifically that “‘OPRA does not authorize a party to make a blanket request for every document a public agency has provided another party in response to an OPRA request,’ nor does it permit requests that would reveal ‘the nature and scope of a third party’s inquiry to a government agency.’” My request for the OPRA log does not ask for the documents provided to another agency. It would not be reasonable to assume that by obtaining a list of requests one would be able to determine the nature of another party’s interest and purpose in requesting particular documents. The idea, it seems to me, is that by obtaining all of the primary documents requested by a third party, one could then determine the nature and scope, which may also be unreasonable attitude, though is not relevant in this matter. I think along those lines, the idea of “advantage to competitors” based on the release of the OPRA log is a stretch, particularly considering that the log should be publicly available to all.

If you could clarify these points, I would appreciate it. I understand that the appropriate channel of appeal would be the Government Records Council, but the chance to understand the reasoning for denial would be helpful for all.

Sincerely,

Beryl C.D. Lipton

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 5, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: Sheila Hill

Dear Ms. Lipton:

This email is being provided to you in response to your email below. The response from the Department of Human Services to your OPRA request dated May 5, 2014, fully explained the reasons why the request was denied.

Thank you.

From: Beryl Lipton

Hello,

Yesterday, the case Scheeler v. Office of the Governor, et. al. was settled in Mercer County Superior Court. The case was in regards to the denials of release of OPRA logs by New Jersey state agencies (as occurred with this request), and the court ruled in favor of the release of the records. (For reports regarding this ruling please see: https://www.aclu-nj.org/news/2014/07/21/judge-orders-christie-administration-release-records ; http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/ap/new-jersey-judge-to-decide-if-opra-requests-are-public/article_e155754c-10c0-11e4-955f-001a4bcf887a.html?utm_content=buffer157e5&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer).

As indicated by this ruling, the denial that your agency provided me was unwarranted and I would appreciate the release of the requested material before any further undue inconvenience is incurred.

Thank you so much for your time and help,

Beryl C.D. Lipton

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 5, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 5, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: Sheila Hill

Dear Ms. Lipton:

This email is being provided to you in response to your email below. The response from the Department of Human Services to your OPRA request dated May 5, 2014, fully explained the reasons why the request was denied.

Thank you.

From: Beryl Lipton

Hello Ms. Hill,

Thank you for your message. I never received a response to my message dated July 22, 2014 inquiring as to the status of my request in light of the case Scheeler v. Office of the Governor. Could you please clarify the denial of my request considering the determination of the court stating that denial of OPRA logs is not a legally supportable action?

Thank you,
Beryl C.D. Lipton

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 5, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 5, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 5, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 5, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 5, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 5, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 5, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 5, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 5, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 5, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 5, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 5, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 5, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 5, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 5, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 5, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 5, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 5, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thanks for your help, and let me know if further clarification is needed.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 5, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thanks for your help, and let me know if further clarification is needed.

From:

The official OPRA Custodian is Amy.Shaw@dhs.state.nj.us

From: Beryl C.D. Lipton

A request for:

A list of all requests filed with the Department of Human Services under New Jersey's Open Public Records Act(OPRA) during the year 2013. For each request, the list should contain the identity of the requester, the date of the request, a description of the requested records, and the status of the request.

From:

Please be advised that OPRA Request #W86296 was denied and closed on May 9, 2014. Reasons for the denial were set forth in the e-mail sent to you.

As this request is CLOSED, we will no longer respond to e-mails in regard to it.

Amy Keys Shaw, Esq.
Legal Specialist, Office of Legal and Regulatory Affairs
New Jersey Department of Human Services
Tel: 609-777-2778
Cell: 609-439-8414

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