Public Records Act
The Public Records Act provides the people with broad rights of access to public records. The purpose of the act is to allow people to be informed about governmental decisions and therefore help keep government accountable (WAC 44-14-01003 ). The act declares that it must be "liberally construed" to promote the public policy of open government (RCW 42.56.030 ).
See the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) webpage for more information.
Public Record Request
AN IMPORTANT NOTICE TO PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTERS IN THE EVENT OF A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN DUE TO LACK OF APPROPRIATION AUTHORITY
In the event of a government shutdown, we regret that the agency's public records office will not be open for business due to a lack of budget appropriation and the resulting government shutdown. We are not able to process public records requests while the office is closed. When the office re-opens, more time will be needed to process requests because we anticipate there will be a backlog of pending requests, as well as new requests that may have been submitted during the shutdown.
IN THE EVENT OF A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN...
This posting and the details below describe how public records requests will be processed after the office re-opens.
This posting provides public records requesters with notification that additional time will be needed to process current and new records requests. This notice also serves as the five business-day acknowledgment of requests as described below (RCW 42.56.520).
This posting is provided to give the fullest assistance to requesters (RCW 42.56.100). The estimates of time below may be affected by the number of days the office is closed, as well as the volume of any pending backlog of requests or new requests submitted while shut down. As a result, the estimates and this notice may need to be adjusted accordingly. We will update this notice after we re-open, if needed. Please check back after we re-open.
Thank you for your patience. If you have questions after the office re-opens, you may contact the Public Records Officer at (360) 725-8673.
SCHEDULED APPOINTMENTS FOR RECORDS INSPECTIONS
If public records requesters had scheduled an inspection of records at the office during the time the office is shut down, that appointment is hereby cancelled and will be rescheduled. Within 15 business days of the office re-opening, or from the date of the last communication from the agency (whichever is later), requesters will be contacted to reschedule their appointment. This is an estimate of time. The office anticipates it will inform requesters if this estimate needs to be revised.
PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS PENDING AT THE TIME OF OFFICE SHUT DOWN
Public records requesters who had requests that were being processed when the office was shut down (and which requests were previously acknowledged) are hereby notified that their requests will continue to be processed after the office re-opens. However, the office will need more time to process those requests. If requesters were awaiting further information or records from the office, they are advised that within 15 business days of the office re-opening or the date of the last communication from the office (whichever is later), requesters will be informed of the status of their requests or receive other information about their requests. This is an estimate of time. The office anticipates it will inform requesters if this estimate needs to be revised.
Public records requesters who had requests that were pending at the time the office was shut down (and which could not be acknowledged due to the closure) are hereby notified that this posting is their five business-day acknowledgment and estimate of further time to respond (RCW 42.56.520). Those requests will be processed once the office re-opens. However, the office will need more time to process those requests. Within 15 business days of the office re-opening, requesters will be informed of the status of their requests and be provided a more detailed estimate of time or further response. This is an estimate of time. The office anticipates it will inform requesters if this estimate needs to be revised.
NEW PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS SUBMITTED WHILE THE OFFICE IS SHUT DOWN
New public records requests that are submitted during the time the office is shut down will be designated as received on the day the office reopens. The office will provide additional information to these requesters on the status of their request and an estimate of further time the office needs to respond, within five business days from the date the office re-opens.
If needed due to the backlog or volume of new requests, this website notice alternatively serves as the initial five business-day acknowledgment under RCW 42.56.520, providing an estimated further response time of 15 business days of the office re-opening.
All requests for public records from the Department of Corrections (DOC) must be submitted to the DOC's Public Records Officer (RCW 42.56.580 ). A DOC Public Records Coordinator (WAC 137-08-080 ) will respond to each request within 5 business days of receiving the request (RCW 42.56.520 )
Submit Public Records Request (WAC 137-08-090 )
General questions do not require a public record request. Additionally, the Department of Corrections (DOC) can provide some information about incarcerated and formally incarcerated person(s) without a public records request. You may contact DOC Headquarters for this information, or with general questions.
All requests for public records, other than requests by inmates currently incarcerated by the Department for inspection of their health records or central file, must be submitted in writing to DOC Public Records Officer. Each request should include:
Inmates under the authority of the Department shall submit requests to inspect their own health record or central file to the records manager at the facility in which they are currently incarcerated.
- (a) The name of the person requesting the record and their contact information,
- (b) The calendar date on which the request is made, and
- (c) The records requested
Department of Corrections
Public Records Office
PO BOX 41118
Olympia, WA 98504-1118
Inmate Patient Health & Chemical Dependency Records
If your public records request(s) will include patient health and/or chemical dependency records, you will need to submit additional release forms.
The appropriate release forms must be filled out completely, signed and dated by the patient.
Chemical Dependency Records
Review of Agency Denial
Record requests are only denied if the records requested are exempt. Every denial must include a statement of the specific exemption authorizing the withholding of the record and a brief explanation of how the exemption applies to the record withheld (RCW 42.56.210 ). If you disagree with this denial, you are have two options:
Attorney General Review
Per RCW 42.56.530 , whenever a state agency concludes that a public record is exempt from disclosure and denies a person opportunity to inspect or copy a public record for that reason, the person may request the attorney general to review the matter. The attorney general shall provide the person with his or her written opinion on whether the record is exempt.
Per RCW 42.56.550 , you may pursue judicial review by the superior court in the county in which the record is maintained when:
- You've been denied an opportunity to inspect or copy a public record by an agency.
- You believe that an agency has not made a reasonable estimate of time that the agency requires to response to a public record request.
Agencies must internally review all denials and reviews shall be deemed completed at the end of the second business day following the denial of inspection, and shall constitute final agency action for the purposes of judicial review (RCW 42.56.520 ). Judicial reviews must be filed within one year of the agency's claim of exemption or the last production of a record on a partial or installment basis.