Questions and Answers
Our goal is to ensure that members of the public and the news media receive all the state-owned documents and records they require. We believe that Oregon's Public Records Law is an invaluable tool in ensuring that government operations are open and above-board.
The following information covers what the Department of Administrative Services hears most often about requests for public records, including questions about fees. We want you to know what DAS and its divisions can and cannot do to address requests for public records, thus saving you time, effort and expense.
What can DAS provide under the Oregon Public Records Law?
DAS and its divisions fill requests for records and documents that presently exist. We cannot answer requests for documents that do not exist, obviously.
This means that DAS and its divisions cannot create documents in response to questions you submit, and the Public Records Law does not require an agency to do so. Also, we cannot perform complex manipulations of databases to derive averages, for example, or write answers to complex questions that require evaluation of policies or historical data.
In most instances, however, we can provide data that you will find helpful in your own research and evaluation.
Does DAS redact or censor the information it delivers?
DAS and its divisions do not redact requested information, except in those instances the law requires. Examples include information about minor children that a tort claim might reference, certain information concerning criminal investigations, and protected personal information (e.g., social security numbers, personal tax information, etc.). In most instances, DAS will not redact information without advice from the Attorney General's office.
Why does DAS sometimes charge a fee to fulfill a records request?
DAS charges a fee to recover for taxpayers the cost of answering requests for public records and documents, as the Public Records Law provides. These costs include the following:
- Employees' time to determine whether requested documents exist (and whether they are retrievable), locating and retrieving requested documents, and time spent in placing documents into usable formats
- The cost of hard copies
- The cost of an employee's time who supervises a requester while examining documents in person
DAS Communications does not charge to recover its costs, since the purpose of the office is to address questions from the public and the news media. Fulfilling a public records request, however, typically requires work from other divisions within the Department of Administrative Services. These divisions' missions involve critical services and functions that do not include answering requests for documents under the Public Records Law. Such work takes employees in these divisions away from their official duties, which is an expense to the public that DAS must recover in accordance with the law.
DAS charges the following costs for producing documents under the Public Records Law:
|Certification of Public Record
|Legal review by Attorney General
Fees for photocopies, CDs, and USB storage devices associated with the production of public records are charged according to the current DAS Publishing and distribution pricelist
for state agencies.
For more information about fees to recover the costs of requested records and documents, see DAS Policy 107-01-160.
When does DAS provide Public Records information without charge?
When DAS can provide a record or a document during the normal course of business at negligible cost, we will do so without charge. Typically, this means under an hour of time for clerical staff. Also, you may ask for a waiver of a fee in accordance with the Public Records Law, if you believe obtaining the requested documents is in the public interest. See ORS 192.440(5) and (6).
When does a person pay the fee?
Payment of fees takes place in the following sequence:
- Upon receiving a public records request, the applicable DAS division will determine whether it possesses the documents, and will estimate the time and expense required to do the job.
- DAS will send an estimate of the fee to the requester.
- If the requester decides the fee is acceptable, he or she must then submit payment before DAS can begin work on the request.
- If the estimate provided was too low, DAS will bill the requester for the balance before sending the documents. If the estimate proved too high, DAS will refund the unneeded balance when sending the documents.
If appropriate, a DAS representative may contact a requester to narrow a request or define it more sharply, in order to answer the requester's needs and reduce costs in time and money.
Return to the main page for Public Records Requests.