Oklahoma Open Records Act

 

§ 24A.1. Short title

Section 24A.1 et seq. of this title shall be known and

may be cited as the "Oklahoma Open Records Act".

§ 24A.2. Public policy—Purpose of act

As the Oklahoma Constitution recognizes and guarantees,

all political power is inherent in the people. Thus, it is

the public policy of the State of Oklahoma that the people

are vested with the inherent right to know and be fully

informed about their government. The Oklahoma Open

Records Act shall not create, directly or indirectly, any

rights of privacy or any remedies for violation of any rights

of privacy; nor shall the Oklahoma Open Records Act,

except as specifically set forth in the Oklahoma Open

Records Act, establish any procedures for protecting any

person from release of information contained in public

records. The purpose of this act is to ensure and facilitate

the public’s right of access to and review of government

records so they may efficiently and intelligently exercise

their inherent political power. The privacy interests of individuals

are adequately protected in the specific exceptions

to the Oklahoma Open Records Act or in the statutes which

authorize, create or require the records. Except where specific

state or federal statutes create a confidential privilege,

persons who submit information to public bodies have no

right to keep this information from public access nor reasonable

expectation that this information will be kept from

public access; provided, the person, agency or political subdivision

shall at all times bear the burden of establishing

such records are protected by such a confidential privilege.

Except as may be required by other statutes, public bodies

do not need to follow any procedures for providing access

to public records except those specifically required by the

Oklahoma Open Records Act.

§ 24A.3. Definitions

Definitions. As used in this act:

1. "Record" means all documents, including,

but not limited to, any book, paper, photograph,

microfilm, data files created by or used with computer

software, computer tape, disk, and record,

sound recording, film recording, video record or

other material regardless of physical form or characteristic,

created by, received by, under the authority

of, or coming into the custody, control or possession

of public officials, public bodies, or their representatives

in connection with the transaction of public

business, the expenditure of public funds or the

administering of public property. "Record" does not

mean computer software, nongovernment personal

effects or, unless public disclosure is required by

other laws or regulations, vehicle movement records

of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority obtained in

connection with the Authority’s electronic toll collection

system, personal financial information, credit

reports or other financial data obtained by or submitted

to a public body for the purpose of evaluating

credit worthiness, obtaining a license, permit, or for

the purpose of becoming qualified to contract with a

public body;

2. "Public body" shall include, but not be limited

to, any office, department, board, bureau, commission,

agency, trusteeship, authority, council,

committee, trust or any entity created by a trust,

county, city, village, town, township, district, school

district, fair board, court, executive office, advisory

group, task force, study group, or any subdivision

thereof, supported in whole or in part by public

funds or entrusted with the expenditure of public

funds or administering or operating public property,

and all committees, or subcommittees thereof.

Except for the records required by Section 24A.4. of

this title, "public body" does not mean judges, justices,

the Council on Judicial Complaints, the

Legislature, or legislators;

3. "Public office" means the physical location

where public bodies conduct business or keep

records;

4. "Public official" means any official or

employee of any public body as defined herein; and

5. "Law enforcement agency" means any public

body charged with enforcing state or local criminal

laws and initiating criminal prosecutions, including,

but not limited to, police departments, county

sheriffs, the Department of Public Safety, the

Oklahoma State Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous

Text of Open Records Act

Title 51, Oklahoma Statutes §§ 24A.1-24A.24

(As Amended Through Close of Forty-Seventh Oklahoma Legislature, Second Regular Session and First Extraordinary Session, 2000)

[Editor’s Note: Bold face, italics and underlines were added for emphasis and clarity.

Comments and explanations not part of the act are enclosed in brackets.]

Drugs Control, the Alcoholic Beverage Laws

Enforcement Commission, and the Oklahoma State

Bureau of Investigation.

§ 24A.4. Record of receipts and expenditures

In addition to other records which are kept or maintained,

every public body and public official has a specific

duty to keep and maintain complete records of the receipt

and expenditure of any public funds reflecting all financial

and business transactions relating thereto, except that such

records may be disposed of as provided by law.

["Judgments, orders and settlements of claims [under

the Governmental Tort Claims Act] shall be open public

records unless sealed by the court for good cause shown."

51 O.S. Supp. 1997, § 158, ¶ F.]

§ 24A.5. Inspection, copying and/or mechanical

reproduction of records—Exemptions

All records of public bodies and public officials shall be

open to any person for inspection, copying, and/or mechanical

reproduction during regular business hours; provided:

1. The Oklahoma Open Records Act, Section 24A.1 et

seq. of this title, does not apply to records specifically

required by law to be kept confidential including:

a. records protected by a state evidentiary

privilege such as the attorney-client privilege,

the work product immunity from discovery and

the identity of informer privileges; or

b. records of what transpired during meetings

of a public body lawfully closed to the public

such as executive sessions authorized under

the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act, Section 301

et seq. of Title 25 of the Oklahoma Statutes.

2. Any reasonably segregable portion of a

record containing exempt material shall be provided

after deletion of the exempt portions, provided however,

the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety

shall not be required to assemble for the requesting

person specific information requested from the

Oklahoma Department of Public Safety’s Driver

License file relating to persons whose names and

dates of birth or whose driver license numbers are

not furnished by the requesting person. The

Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations shall not

be required to assemble for the requesting person

any criminal history records relating to persons

whose names and dates of birth are not furnished by

the requesting person.

3. Any request for a record which contains individual

records of persons and the cost of copying,

reproducing or certifying such individual record

which is otherwise prescribed by state law, the cost

may be assessed for each individual record, or portion

thereof requested as prescribed by state law.

Otherwise, a public body may charge a fee only for

recovery of the reasonable, direct costs of document

copying, or mechanical reproduction.

Notwithstanding any state or local provision to the

contrary, in no instance shall said document copying

fee exceed twenty-five cents ($0.25) per page for

documents having the dimensions of eight and one

half (8 1/2) by fourteen (14) inches or smaller, or a

maximum of One Dollar ($1.00) per copied page for

a certified copy. However, if the request:

a. is solely for commercial purpose, or

b. would clearly cause excessive disruption

of the public body’s essential functions,

then the public body may charge a reasonable fee to recover

the direct cost of document search; however, publication

in a newspaper or by broadcast news media for news purposes

shall not constitute a resale or use of data for trade or

commercial purpose and charges for providing copies of

electronic data to the news media for a news purpose shall

not exceed the direct cost of making the copy.

Any public body establishing fees under this act shall

post a written schedule of said fees at its principal office

and with the county clerk.

In no case shall a search fee be charged when the release

of said documents is in the public interest, including, but

not limited to, release to the news media, scholars, authors

and taxpayers seeking to determine whether those entrusted

with the affairs of the government are honestly, faithfully,

and competently performing their duties as public servants.

The fees shall not be used for the purpose of discouraging

requests for information or as obstacles to disclosure of

requested information.

4. The land description tract index of all recorded

instruments concerning real property required to

be kept by the county clerk of any county shall be

available for inspection or copying in accordance

with the provisions of the Oklahoma Open Records

Act; provided, however, such index shall not be

copied and/or mechanically reproduced for the purpose

of sale of such information.

5. A public body must provide prompt, reasonable

access to its records but may establish reasonable

procedures which protect the integrity and

organization of its records and to prevent excessive

disruptions of its essential functions.

6. A public body shall designate certain persons

who are authorized to release records of the public

body for inspection, copying, or mechanical reproduction.

At least one such person shall be available

at all times to release records during the regular

business hours of the public body.

§ 24A.6. Public body maintaining less than 30 hours

of regular business per week—Inspection, copying

or mechanical reproduction of records

A. If a public body or its office does not have

regular business hours of at least thirty (30) hours a

week, the public body shall post and maintain written

notice at its principal office and with the county

clerk where the public body is located which notice

shall:

1. Designate the days of the week when

records are available for inspection, copying or

mechanical reproduction;

2. Set forth the name, mailing address, and

telephone number of the individual in charge of

the records; and

3. Describe in detail the procedures for

obtaining access to the records at least two days

of the week, excluding Sunday.

B. The person requesting the record and the person

authorized to release the records of the public

body may agree to inspection, copying, or mechanical

reproduction on a day and at a time other than

that designated in the notice.

§ 24A.7. Personnel records

—Confidentiality—Inspection and copying

A. A public body may keep personnel records

confidential:

1. Which relate to internal personnel investigations

including examination and selection

material for employment, hiring, appointment,

promotion, demotion, discipline, or resignation;

or

2. Where disclosure would constitute a

clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy

such as employee evaluations, payroll

deductions, employment applications submitted

by persons not hired by the public body, and

transcripts from institutions of higher education

maintained in the personnel files of certified

public school employees; provided, however,

that nothing in this subsection shall be construed

to exempt from disclosure the degree

obtained and the curriculum on the transcripts

of certified public school employees.

B. All personnel records not specifically falling

within the exceptions provided in subsection A of

this section shall be available for public inspection

and copying including, but not limited to, records of:

1. An employment application of a person

who becomes a public official;

2. The gross receipts of public funds;

3. The dates of employment, title or position;

and

4. Any final disciplinary action resulting in

loss of pay, suspension, demotion of position, or

termination.

C. Except as may otherwise be made confidential

by statute, an employee of a public body shall

have a right of access to his own personnel file.

D. Public bodies shall keep confidential the

home address of any person employed or formerly

employed by the public body.

§ 24A.8. Law enforcement records—Disclosure

A. Law enforcement agencies shall make available

for public inspection, if kept, the following

records:

1. An arrestee description, including the

name, date of birth, address, race, sex, physical

description, and occupation of the arrestee;

2. Facts concerning the arrest, including the

cause of arrest and the name of the arresting

officer;

3. Conviction information, including the

name of any person convicted of a criminal

offense;

4. Disposition of all warrants, including

orders signed by a judge of any court commanding

a law enforcement officer to arrest a

particular person;

5. A chronological list of incidents, including

initial offense report information showing

the offense, date, time, general location, officer

and a brief summary of what occurred;

6. A crime summary, including a departmental

summary of crimes reported and public

calls for service by classification or nature and

number;

7. Radio logs, including a chronological

listing of the calls dispatched; and

8. Jail registers, including jail blotter data

or jail booking information recorded on persons

at the time of incarceration showing the name of

each prisoner with the date and cause of his

commitment, the authority committing him,

whether committed for a criminal offense, a

description of his person, and the date or manner

of his discharge or escape.

B. Except for the records listed in subsection A

of this section and those made open by other state or

local laws, law enforcement agencies may deny

access to law enforcement records except where a

court finds that the public interest or the interest of

an individual outweighs the reason for denial.

C. Nothing contained in this section imposes

any new recordkeeping requirements. Law enforcement

records shall be kept for as long as is now or

may hereafter be specified by law. Absent a legal

requirement for the keeping of a law enforcement

record for a specific time period, law enforcement

agencies shall maintain their records for so long as

needed for administrative purposes.

D. Registration files maintained by the

Department of Corrections pursuant to the provisions

of the Sex Offenders Registration Act shall not

be made available for public inspection.

[NOTE: Registration files "shall be made available

for public inspection pursuant to rules promulgated

by the Department of Corrections." 57 O.S.

Supp. 1997, §584, ¶ E.]

E. The Council on Law Enforcement Education

and Training (C.L.E.E.T.) shall keep confidential all

records it maintains pursuant to Section 3311 of

Title 70 of the Oklahoma Statutes and deny release

of records relating to any employed or certified fulltime

officer, reserve officer, retired officer or other

person; teacher lesson plans, tests and other teaching

materials; and personal communications concerning

individual students except under the following circumstances:

1. To verify the current certification status

of any peace officer;

2. As may be required to perform the duties

imposed by Section 3311 of Title 70 of the

Oklahoma Statutes;

3. To provide to any peace officer copies of

the records of that peace officer upon submitting

a written report;

4. To provide final orders of administrative

proceedings where an adverse action was taken

against a peace officer; and

5. Pursuant to an order of the district court

of the State of Oklahoma.

§ 24A.9. Personal notes and personally

created material—Confidentiality

Prior to taking action, including making a recommendation

or issuing a report, a public official may keep confidential

his or her personal notes and personally created

materials other than departmental budget requests of a public

body prepared as an aid to memory or research leading

to the adoption of a public policy or the implementation of

a public project.

§ 24A.10. Voluntarily supplied information—

Bids, computer programs, appraisals and prospective

business locations—Department of Commerce

records— Confidentiality—Disclosure

A. Any information, records or other material

heretofore voluntarily supplied to any state agency,

board or commission which was not required to be

considered by that agency, board or commission in

the performance of its duties may, within thirty (30)

days from the effective date of this act [June 6, 1988;

sec 1988 Okla. Sess. Laws c. 187 §5], be removed

from the files of such agency, board or commission

by the person or entity which originally voluntarily

supplied such information. Provided, after thirty

(30) days from the effective date of this act, any

information voluntarily supplied shall be subject to

full disclosure pursuant to this act.

B. If disclosure would give an unfair advantage

to competitors or bidders, a public body may keep

confidential records relating to:

1. Bid specifications for competitive bidding

prior to publication by the public body; or

2. Contents of sealed bids prior to the opening

of bids by a public body; or

3. Computer programs or software but not

data thereon; or

4. Appraisals relating to the sale or acquisition

of real estate by a public body prior to

award of a contract; or

5. The prospective location of a private

business or industry prior to public disclosure

of such prospect except for records otherwise

open to inspection such as applications for permits

or licenses.

C. Except as set forth hereafter, the Oklahoma

Department of Commerce may keep confidential:

1. Business plans, feasibility studies,

financing proposals, marketing plans, financial

statements or trade secrets submitted by a person

or entity seeking economic advice from the

Oklahoma Department of Commerce; and

2. Information compiled by the Oklahoma

Department of Commerce in response to those

submissions.

The Oklahoma Department of Commerce

may not keep confidential that submitted information

when and to the extent the person or

entity submitting the information consents to

disclosure.

D. Although they must provide public access to

their records, including records of name, address,

rate paid for services, charges and payment for each

customer, public bodies that provide utility services

to the public may keep confidential credit information,

credit card numbers, telephone numbers, and

bank account information for individual customers.

§ 24A.10a. Oklahoma Medical Center

—Market research and marketing plans

—Confidentiality

The Oklahoma Medical Center may keep confidential

market research conducted by and marketing plans developed

by the Oklahoma Medical Center if the Center determines

that disclosure of such research or plans would give

an unfair advantage to competitors of the Oklahoma

Medical Center regarding marketing research and planning,

public education, and advertising and promotion of special

and general services provided by the Oklahoma Medical

Center.

§ 24A.11. Library, archive or museum materials

—Confidentiality

A. A public body may keep confidential library,

archive, or museum materials donated to the public

body to the extent of any limitations imposed as a

condition of the donation and any information which

would reveal the identity of an individual who lawfully

makes a donation to or on behalf of a public

body including, but not limited to, donations made

through a foundation operated in compliance with

Sections 5-145 and 4306 of Title 70 of the

Oklahoma Statutes.

B. If library, archive, or museum materials are

donated to a public body and the donation may be

claimed as a tax deduction, the public body may

keep confidential any information required as a condition

of the donation except the date of the donation,

the appraised value claimed for the donation,

and a general description of the materials donated

and their quantity.

§ 24A.12. Litigation files and investigatory files

of Attorney General, district or municipal attorney

—Confidentiality

Except as otherwise provided by state or local law, the

Attorney General of the State of Oklahoma and agency

attorneys authorized by law, the office of the district attorney

of any county of the state, and the office of the municipal

attorney of any municipality may keep its litigation

files and investigatory reports confidential.

§ 24A.13. Federal records—Confidentiality

Records coming into the possession of a public body

from the federal government or records generated or gathered

as a result of federal legislation may be kept confidential

to the extent required by federal law.

§ 24A.14. Personal communications relating to exercise

of constitutional rights—Confidentiality

Except for the fact that a communication has been

received and that it is or is not a complaint, a public official

may keep confidential personal communications received

by the public official from a person exercising rights

secured by the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma or

the Constitution of the United States. The public official’s

written response to this personal communication may be

kept confidential only to the extent necessary to protect the

identity of the person exercising the right.

§ 24A.15. Crop and livestock reports

—Public warehouse financial statements

—Confidentiality

A. The Division of Agricultural Statistics,

Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, also known

as the Oklahoma Crop and Livestock Reporting

Service, may keep confidential crop and livestock

reports provided by farmers, ranchers, and agri-businesses

to the extent the reports individually identify

the providers.

B. The State Board of Agriculture is authorized

to provide for the confidentiality of any financial

statement filed pursuant to Section 9-22 of Title 2 of

the Oklahoma Statutes. Copies of such financial

statements may only be obtained upon written

request to the Commissioner of Agriculture.

Upon good cause shown, and at the discretion of

the Commissioner of Agriculture, such financial

statements may be released.

§ 24A.16. Educational records and materials

—Confidentiality

A. Except as set forth in subsection B of this section,

public educational institutions and their

employees may keep confidential:

1. Individual student records;

2. Teacher lesson plans, tests and other

teaching material; and

3. Personal communications concerning

individual students.

B. If kept, statistical information not identified

with a particular student and directory information

shall be open for inspection and copying. "Directory

information" includes a student’s name, address,

telephone listing, date and place of birth, major field

of study, participation in officially recognized activities

and sports, weight and height of members of

athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and

awards received, and the most recent previous educational

institution attended by the student. Any educational

agency or institution making public directory

information shall give public notice of the categories

of information which it has designated as

such information with respect to each student

attending the institution or agency and shall allow a

reasonable period of time after such notice has been

given for a parent to inform the institution or agency

that any or all of the information designated should

not be released without the parent’s or guardian’s

prior consent or the student’s himself if he is eighteen

(18) years of age or older.

§ 24A.17. Violations—Penalties—Civil liability

A. Any public official who willfully violates any

provision of the Oklahoma Open Records Act, upon

conviction, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and

shall be punished by a fine not exceeding Five

Hundred Dollars ($500.00) or by imprisonment in

the county jail for a period not exceeding one (1)

year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

B. Any person denied access to a record of a

public body or public official may bring a civil suit

for declarative and/or injunctive relief and, if successful,

shall be entitled to reasonable attorney fees.

If the public body or public official successfully

defends a civil suit and the court finds that the suit

was clearly frivolous, the public body or public official

shall be entitled to reasonable attorney fees.

C. A public body or public official shall not be

civilly liable for damages for providing access to

records as allowed under the Oklahoma Open

Records Act.

§ 24A.18. Additional recordkeeping not required

Except as may be required in Section 4 [§24A.4] of this

act, this act does not impose any additional recordkeeping

requirements on public bodies or public officials.

§ 24A.19. Research records—Confidentiality

In addition to other records that a public body may keep

confidential pursuant to the provisions of the Oklahoma

Open Records Act, a public body may keep confidential

any information related to research, the disclosure of which

could affect the conduct or outcome of the research, the

ability to patent or copyright the research, or any other proprietary

rights any entity might have in the research or the

results of the research; including, but not limited to, trade

secrets and commercial or financial information obtained

from an entity financing or cooperating in the research,

research protocols, and research notes, data, results or other

unpublished writings about the research.

§24A.20. Records in litigation or

investigation file—Access

Access to records which, under the Oklahoma Open

Records Act, would otherwise be available for public

inspection and copying, shall not be denied because a public

body or public official is using or has taken possession

of such records for investigatory purposes or has placed the

records in a litigation or investigation file. However, a law

enforcement agency may deny access to a copy of such a

record in an investigative file if the record or a true and

complete copy thereof is available for public inspection and

copying at another public body.

§24A.21. Increment district reports

—Exemption from copying fees

The fees that may be charged by a public body pursuant

to the provisions of paragraph 3 of Section 24A.5 of Title

51 of the Oklahoma Statutes shall not be charged when a

state agency or taxing entity located within the boundaries

of any district created pursuant to the provisions of the

Local Development Act [Section 850 et seq. of Title 62]

request a copy of the reports required by subsections A and

B of Section 18 of this act [Section 867 of Title 62].

§24A.22. Public Utilities

— Confidential books, records and trade secrets

A. The Corporation Commission shall keep confidential

those records of a public utility, its affiliates,

suppliers and customers which the Commission

determines are confidential books, records, or trade

secrets.

B. As used in this section, "public utility" means

any entity regulated by the Corporation

Commission, owning or operating for compensation

in this state equipment or facilities for:

1. Producing, generating, transmitting, distributing,

selling or furnishing electricity;

2. The conveyance, transmission, or reception

of communication over a telephone system;

or

3. Transmitting directly or indirectly or distributing

combustible hydrocarbon natural or

synthetic natural gas for sale to the public.

§24A.23. Department of Wildlife

A. The Department of Wildlife Conservation

shall keep confidential the information provided by

persons, including the name and address of the person

applying for or holding any permit or license

issued by the Department, to the extent the information

individually identifies the person. The

Department may use the information for Department

purposes or allow the United States Fish and

Wildlife Service to use the information for survey

purposes only. The Department shall allow any public

body to have access to the information for purposes

specifically related to the public bodies function.

B. The provisions of subsection A of this section

shall not apply to information provided by persons

applying for or holding a commercial hunting or

fishing license.

§24A.24. Office of Juvenile System Oversight

Unless otherwise provided by law, the Office of

Juvenile System Oversight may keep its investigatory

record and notes confidential, unless ordered by a court of

competent jurisdiction to disclose the information.

§24A.25. Removal of Materials from Public Record

Any order of the court for removal of materials from the

public record shall require compliance with the provisions

of paragraphs 2 through 7 of subsection C of Section 3226

of Title 12 of the Oklahoma Statutes.

§24A.26. Intergovernmental Self-Insurance Pools

An intergovernmental self-insurance pool may be kept

confidential proprietary information, such as acturial

reports, underwriting calculations, rating information and

records that are created based on conclusions of such information

that are developed through the operation of the

intergovernmental self-insurance pool.

 

Comments and explanations not included in the open records act are enclosed in brackets [...]

Some bolding and italics have been added to formatting.

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