Definitions provide the legal meaning of terms used within the law, and records officers should refer to them when unclear on the context in provisions. Records officers should know a few important definitions readily.
To clarify the extent of the law, GRAMA defines a “record.” The definition of a record is broad. It includes documentary materials—books, letters, documents, papers, and plans, as well as photographs, recordings and electronic data. GRAMA states that a record is information that is “prepared, owned, received, or retained” by government. It also must be reproducible. Format is not a factor; content, not format, is what is important in determining a record.
. . . . (22) (a) "Record" means a book, letter, document, paper, map, plan, photograph, film, card, tape, recording, electronic data, or other documentary material regardless of physical form or characteristics:
- (i) that is prepared, owned, received, or retained by a governmental entity or political subdivision; and
- (ii) where all of the information in the original is reproducible by photocopy or other mechanical or electronic means
GRAMA further clarifies the extent of the law by defining what a record is not. It lists such examples as copyrighted material, proprietary software, junk mail or commercial publications, collections in public libraries, and more. It reaffirms that information not related to government business or not “prepared or received” in an official capacity is not a record.
. . . .(22) (b) "Record" does not mean:
(i) a personal note or personal communication prepared or received by an employee or officer of a governmental entity:
(ii) a temporary draft or similar material prepared for the originator's personal use or prepared by the originator for the personal use of an individual for whom the originator is working;
- (A) in a capacity other than the employee's or officer's governmental capacity; or
- (B) that is unrelated to the conduct of the public's business;
(iii) material that is legally owned by an individual in the individual's private capacity . . . .
(ix) a daily calendar or other personal note prepared by the originator for the originator's personal use or for the personal use of an individual for whom the originator is working;
Temporary drafts are not records. A temporary draft is information gathered or prepared and incorporated into a final product or report. The word temporary is the key. A draft retained in a file over time cannot qualify as temporary.
GRAMA establishes records classifications. “Private” and “controlled” records protect individual privacy. “Protected” records restrict access for the public good. GRAMA also recognizes that access to some records may be restricted by another law or statute.
. . . . (3) "Classification," "classify," and their derivative forms mean determining whether a record series, record, or information within a record is public, private, controlled, protected, or exempt from disclosure under Subsection 63G-2-201(3)(b).
Classification is the process of identifying the access rights based on the content of the record, and records must be classified in response to a GRAMA request. Designation is the process of determining what the primary classification would be in review of a records series as a whole.
. . . . (7) "Designation," "designate," and their derivative forms mean indicating, based on a governmental entity's familiarity with a record series or based on a governmental entity's review of a reasonable sample of a record series, the primary classification that a majority of records in a record series would be given if classified and the classification that other records typically present in the record series would be given if classified.
record is a record that is not private, controlled, or protected and that is not exempt from disclosure; therefore, all records are public unless expressly restricted by law.
GRAMA applies to records of governmental entities. Governmental entities include the state executive department agencies and offices, the Legislature and its offices and committees, the courts, state-funded institutions of education, and political subdivisions. Governmental entities also include all offices, boards, committees, departments, advisory boards, and commissions, etc., to the extent that they are established or funded by government to carry out the public’s business. Political parties are not governmental entities.
GRAMA refers often to a
person, especially in provisions of access and fees. It is important to remember that
individual is defined as
a human being. Person is much broader and includes an individual, persons, and organizations.
. . . . (17)Personmeans:
- (a) an individual;
- (b) a nonprofit or profit corporation;
- (c) a partnership;
- (d) a sole proprietorship;
- (e) other type of business organization; or
- (f) any combination acting in concert with one another.