Hawaii’s Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA) is a specifically worded, expansive law which helps to clarify questions that a requester may have. For an informal request, an agency has a reasonable amount of time to respond. A formal request merits a response within ten business days, and if it will exceed this amount the agency must notify you and cannot take more than five to ten extra business days. There are no citizenship restrictions in Hawaii, and all branches of government are requestable, including the judicial branch with some restrictions on the kinds of documents that can be released. Fees in Hawaii run not less than five cents per page for copying, (2.50 per fifteen minutes of search time, and )5.00 for an agency review and segregation of the records. However, the first $30 dollars are waived, and if one can prove it, public interest and media companies can have all costs waived.
Exemptions in Hawaii are fairly standard. Personal information such as medical, financial or ongoing criminal cases are exempted, as are documents that if released could hamper the government's ability to function. The most interesting and potentially relevant exemption in Hawaii comes from the exemption concerning the state legislature. All drafts and inchoate documents in the legislature including budgets, unfiled reports, and transcripts can be exempted. Legislators personal files are also exempted.
Hawaii created the Office of Information Practices when they enacted the UIPA, becoming one of the only states which has a government agency that deals exclusively with public records requests. The OIP helps to assist requesters, gives advice, and handles appeals along with the courts.
- Must respond in a reasonable amount of time for an informal request, and ten business days for a formal request.
- All branches of government are applicable including agencies that are owned or operated by the government
- No citizenship restrictions
- Can appeal through the courts or through the Office of Information Practices
Can you submit a request if you’re not a resident?
Yes, there are no citizenship restrictions in Hawaii.
To whom does this apply?
Certain records. The “non-administrative functions” of the judiciary are not considered agencies under UIPA and are thus exempted. Disclosure is mandatory for “[f]inal opinions . . . as well as orders made in the adjudication of cases, except to the extent protected by section 92F-13(1)[.]” Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-12(a)(2). Rules of procedure, statutes, and constitutional standards also require the creation of public records in adjudicatory proceedings, which must be disclosed under the UIPA provisions mandating access required by other laws. Id. § 92F-12(a), (b)(2).
Is there a designated records custodian?
Yes, Hawaii created a division of the Lieutenant Governor’s office called the Office of Information Practices to assist and give advice to requesters. The OIP also can field informal appeals for denied requests. There is also a Legislature appointed state ombudsman.
Who is exempted?
Due to the very broad definition of “agency” in UIPA, there are virtually no government branches or agencies that one cannot request from besides some judicial documents.
How can requests be submitted?
How long do they have to respond?
For an informal request an agency has a reasonable amount of time clause and there is not a set amount of days that it will take to hear back from them. For a formal request it is more complicated. If all of the records requested can be disclosed at once an agency has ten business days. If the response must be segregated, an agency has ten business days to notify the requester of the segregation, and five days after either notifying the requester or receiving payment to disclose the public portion of the requested documents.
Are there provisions regarding the extension of response times?
Yes. In certain circumstances an agency can acknowledge a request after ten business days, and then must send a notice within twenty business days after the acknowledgement.
Does the agency have to give you a tracking number or estimated date of completion?
They do not have to give you a tracking number, but for all request responses that are segregated and may take longer than ten business days they must give an estimated date of completion.
Can they ask why you ask?
The state records ombudsman or OIP have jurisdiction to investigate any agency potentially not operating within the proper confines of the UIPA.
UIPA authorizes agencies to charge a reasonable cost of not less than five cents per page. $2.50 per fifteen minutes for an agency search for the record; $5.00 per fifteen minutes for an agency review and segregation of the record; and the actual rate that is charged to the agency by a person outside the agency for services to assist in the search. Haw. Admin. Rules § 2-71-31(a). The first $30 of fees for search, review and segregation of a record are automatically waived.
Are there fee waivers for media requests or those made in the public interest?
Yes, these waivers are available under the UIPA.
Attorney’s fees - Can you win them?
Exemptions and Appeals
What exemptions exist?
There are five exemptions to UIPA.
Government records which, if disclosed, would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-13(1) (1996). <br /> Examples of this are Social Security numbers, medical or psychiatric records, an individual’s financial records, information regarding ongoing criminal cases, records pertaining to recommendations or proposals for public employment, appointment to government position, or information regarding a personal evaluation or recommendation. 2. 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. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-13(2). 3. Government records that, by their nature, must be confidential in order for the government to avoid the frustration of a legitimate government function. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-13(3). 4. Government records which, pursuant to state or federal law including an order of any state or federal court, are protected from disclosure. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-13(4). 5.Inchoate and draft working papers of legislative committees including budget worksheets and unfiled committee reports; work product; records or transcripts of an investigating committee of the legislature which are closed by rules adopted pursuant to [S]ection 21-4 and personal files of members of the legislature. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-13(5).
Do they have to tell you why a portion or pages were redacted or withheld?
How much time do you have to appeal?
Two years after the denial.
Can you appeal the courts?
Yes. You have two years to do so.
Attorneys and Law Firms
The following attorneys and law firms have practiced public records law. Names marked with an asterisk have indicated a willingness to offer pro bono services on a case by case basis.
There are currently no experienced public records law attorneys that we know of in Hawaii. Write to us at info@MuckRock.com if you know of any and want to help us out!
News Stories on Public Records Laws in the State
Public Records Guide and Advice
Big FOIA wins
Have a public records success story? Let us know!
- Request Record
- 262 Filed
- 63 Completed
- 12 Rejected
- 64 No Responsive Documents
- 28 Awaiting Acknowledgement
- 15 Awaiting Response
- 28 Requiring Action
- 39 Overdue
- Allowed Response Time
- 10 days
- Average Response Time
- 93 days
- Success Rate
- Average Fee
- 11.83% of requests have a fee
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