G. Procedures Regarding Access to Public Records

(Note: OLPM sections on this page may be cited following the format of, for example, "USA.III.G.1". These policies may be amended at any time, do not constitute an employment contract, and are provided here only for ease of reference and without any warranty of accuracy. See OLPM Main Menu for details.)

1.   This procedure shall apply to all requests for access to public records received by the administrative offices of the University System of New Hampshire.

2.   Requests for access to USNH public records should be made in writing and should include a specific description of the desired documents. All steps taken to comply with such requests should be documented in writing and should include a specific description of the documents that were made available.

3.   Public documents requested under the Right-to-Know Law must be made available within a reasonable time. That reasonable time is determined with respect to the circumstances of the particular request. The greater the administrative time and effort required to comply with a request, the greater the time that will be considered "reasonable." In the event a reply will take longer than a few days, a letter should be sent acknowledging receipt of the request and estimating when a substantive reply will be available.

4.   The Right-to-Know Law does not specify a particular method by which access to public records must be allowed. Access will ordinarily be afforded by providing photocopies of the requested materials. In some instances alternate methods -- such as allowing personal review of a particularly voluminous file -- may be more appropriate.

5.   A public agency may charge a fee for providing access to its public records. That fee should be calculated to cover the variable costs incurred by the agency in providing access to the records. The basic fee for producing photocopies of USNH records shall be $.10 per page. Other variable costs incurred, e.g. personnel salary and benefits, may be charged in appropriate cases.

6.   While USNH has an obligation to provide the public with reasonable access to its public records, the System must also respect the privacy interests of persons who are the subject of confidential, or otherwise exempted, information contained in those records. A USNH record must be reviewed in its entirety before it is released in order to ensure that no confidential or otherwise exempted information is included.

7.   Other types of records exempted from the public access requirement include personnel records, student records, internal memoranda and draft reports, privileged documents (e.g. lawyer-client communication), records pertaining to litigation, collective bargaining, real estate negotiations, and records containing certain types of confidential commercial or financial information.

8.   It is possible that only a portion of the information contained in a USNH record will be subject to public access under the Right-to-Know Law. In such cases USNH must make a reasonable effort to provide access to the public portions of the record. For instance, a redacted photocopy of the document may be provided.

9.   The legislature has provided for private enforcement of the Right-to-Know law by suit in the Superior Courts. Plaintiffs are entitled to an expeditious hearing and, if successful, reimbursement for their attorneys' fees and costs. The General Counsel should be consulted whenever questions arise as to the appropriate response to a request for USNH records.

10.   This procedure shall be effective immediately and shall continue in force until otherwise amended or repealed.


This page last updated Friday, November 9, 2012. For information on the adoption and effective dates of policies please see explanation on the OLPM Main Menu.