Effective Dispute resolution Strategies
The Utah State Legislature created the government records ombudsman position during the 2012 General Legislative Session. They authorized the records ombudsman to act as a resource to the public in making records requests and in filing appeals associated with records requests, and also to assist government employees in responding to records requests or dealing with related appeals. The records ombudsman may mediate disputes between requesters and responders. Effectively, the creation of this position was intended to facilitate easier access to records, to improve transparency and compliance with the law, and to help resolve disputes over records issues.
The records ombudsman’s responsibilities are defined in Utah Code 63A-12-111:
63A-12-111. Government records ombudsman.
(a) The director of the division shall appoint a government records ombudsman.
(b) The government records ombudsman may not be a member of the records committee.
(2) The government records ombudsman shall:
(a) be familiar with the provisions of Title 63G, Chapter 2, Government Records Access and Management Act;
(b) serve as a resource for a person who is making or responding to a records request or filing an appeal relating to a records request;
(c) upon request, attempt to mediate disputes between requestors and responders; and
(d) on an annual basis, report to the Government Operations Interim Committee on the work performed by the government records ombudsman during the previous year.
(3) The government records ombudsman may not testify, or be compelled to testify, before the records committee, another administrative body, or a court regarding a matter that the government records ombudsman provided services in relation to under this section.
The law outlines four basic responsibilities for the records ombudsman:
- Understand GRAMA.
The Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) is nuanced and subject to frequent change. The records ombudsman is familiar with the law, and with previous State Records Committee and court decisions that have interpreted it. The records ombudsman page on the Archives website includes links to GRAMA and other records laws as well as local government records ordinances and policies.
- Assist requesters and responders with records requests and appeals.
The ombudsman primarily provides assistance through consultation. She can be reached at (801) 531-3858 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Mediate disputes between requesters and responders.
As a neutral party, the ombudsman is an advocate for following the law. The ombudsman may not be compelled to testify about any issue in which the ombudsman was involved. The ombudsman does not discuss any issues related to mediation with members of the State Records Committee.
- Provide a report of work performed.
The annual records ombudsman’s report is posted online.
Page Last Updated June 2, 2016 .