Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
FAQs: General Questions
What is a public record?
A public record may be any document or record, written or electronic, that is used, retained, or maintained by the University in the course of business. Upon request, the University must disclose public records unless a specific exemption from disclosure applies.
What is the Public Records Office (PRO)?
The Public Records Office (PRO) coordinates the University's responses to requests for records made under the California Public Records Act (CPRA) and the Information Practices Act of 1977 (IPA). The PRO usually does not hold any records responsive to requests, but collects them from offices on campus and the Medical Center.
What is the California Public Records Act (CPRA)?
The California Public Records Act (CPRA) is a state law found in California Government Code, Section 6250 et seq., concerning the disclosure of public records. The CPRA is based upon the principle that access to information concerning the public's business is a fundamental and necessary right. Under the CPRA, records maintained by the University are subject to inspection by the public upon request unless specifically exempted from disclosure under the law.
What is the Information Practices Act of 1977 (IPA)?
The Information Practices Act of 1977 (IPA) is a state law found in California Civil Code, Section 1798 et seq. The IPA protects an individual's privacy rights if University records include his or her personal information. The IPA also allows an individual to request and access records, upon verification of identity, containing his or her own information maintained by the University.
What are the differences between the CPRA and the IPA?
Under the CPRA, all records maintained by the University are potentially subject to disclosure unless they fall into an authorized exception. Any member of the public can make a request for records under the CPRA.
Under the IPA, the public has very limited rights to personal information about another individual. Personal information is defined as any information maintained by the University that identifies or describes an individual. Most personal information is considered confidential and not disclosable to the public. However, individuals have the right to access personal information about themselves held by the University with few exceptions. Proof of identification is required when releasing records made under the IPA.
Does the PRO process Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests?
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal law establishing the public's right to obtain information from federal agencies. The CPRA is modeled after the FOIA. As the FOIA generally does not apply to the University, all requests received under the FOIA will be processed under the CPRA. For more information on the FOIA, please visit: United States Department of Justice.
How many requests does the PRO process a year?
On average, the PRO processes over 230 requests a year, which results in the collection of approximately 55,400 pages per year.
FAQs: For Requesters
Who can make a request under the California Public Records Act (CPRA) and the Information Practices Act (IPA)?
Anyone can make a request for records.
Can I make a CPRA request for records anonymously?
Yes. CPRA requests for public records can be made anonymously. However, anonymous requesters must provide contact information (such as an email address) for correspondence and records release.
Can I make an IPA request for records anonymously?
No. IPA requests cannot be made anonymously, as these documents usually are not public records. To protect your privacy, you will be asked to verify your identity prior to release of documents responsive to an IPA.
Does the Public Records Office (PRO) process subpoenas?
No. All subpoenas served on the University should be forwarded to the Office of Materiel and Risk Management.
How long does it take to process a request for records?
Response times vary from case to case. The length of time it takes to process a request depends on the types and volume of documents being requested, the scope of the request and our current workload. In rare cases, documents may be made available in as short as 48 hours or as long as several months.
What does it cost to make a request?
As most documents are released electronically, our office typically does not charge for records requests. However, we may charge in certain cases, including to produce hard copies (up to 10 cents per page) or if extensive programming is required (California Government Code, Section 6253.9(b)).
Requesters will be notified of any associated costs prior to the release of documents.
How will I receive my requested records?
We typically release responsive documents electronically via a password protected email link to an encrypted server. Releasing documents electronically is the easiest way for requesters to receive documents. An in-person inspection of documents generally is not feasible because original records are not kept in our office and must be collected and reviewed before they can be released.
FAQs: For UCI Employees
I am a UCI Employee. What should I do if I receive a records request?
Can a University employee make a request for his or her own personnel file?
Yes. University employees may access copies of their own personnel records. A requester has the option to execute the records request through the University's Human Resources Department, Office of Academic Personnel, individual departments, or via the PRO.
Should a University department redact responsive documents before giving them to the PRO?
No. University departments should produce documents to the PRO in their entirety. The PRO will make any necessary redactions.
Are University employee salaries exempt from release?
No. University employee salaries are considered public.
Is the University required to create records that do not exist in order to comply with a public records request?
No. In response to a public records request, we are only responsible for providing existing documents and records that are maintained by the University.
Should University departments utilize the PRO in order to collect documents held by other departments?
No. University departments and offices should not use the PRO to obtain internal documents in the course of their work.
FAQs: Record Review Process
Which records are exempt from disclosure?
When a document is identified as potentially responsive to a public records request, but it contains personal or other exempt information as protected under the law, it will be redacted prior to release. Exemptions from disclosure generally include: personnel, medical, or similar records, the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy; records related to pending litigation; investigative records; preliminary drafts that typically are not retained; attorney-client privileged records; trade secrets; records that would harm the public interest if released; and other material made confidential by state and federal statutes (see the CPRA and the IPA).
What is redaction?
Redaction is the process of removing, covering, or deleting information from documents that is exempt from production. It is part of the PRO's responsibility to redact exempt information from records before they are released.
Can my medical information be released under the California Public Records Act?
No. Medical files and information are protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), as incorporated into the CPRA.
What is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)?
HIPAA is a federal law that governs the privacy and security of "protected health information" (PHI). Under the HIPAA, the University is mandated to comply with legal requirements governing the provision of health benefits, the delivery and payment of healthcare services, and the security and confidentiality of individually identifiable PHI in written, electronic, or oral formats. For additional information on the HIPAA, please visit:
I am a student. Can my educational records be released under the California Public Records Act?
No. Student records are protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), as incorporated into the CPRA. However, students can request records about themselves under the IPA.
What is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)?
FERPA is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records (see Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)).