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Public's Right to Know - Public Records


PUBLIC’S RIGHT TO KNOW – PUBLIC RECORDS
(ORC 149.43; ORC 149.011G)

OVERVIEW

 

As a public office of State of Ohio, the Scioto County Health Department is subject to the Ohio Public Records Act (ORC 149.43), which provides for prompt inspection of public records and requires that copies of existing public records be provided in a reasonable period of time. Compliance with the Public Records Act is subject to audit by the State Auditor.


The purpose of this policy is to provide employees of the Scioto County Health Department with information regarding the Public Records Act, to establish procedure for responding to request for public records, and to establish procedures for maintenance of departmental records and personnel files.

Guidelines: 

  • A two-stage analysis required under the Public Records Act to determine what Documents or electronic/recorded information is subject to public access. The first step is to determine if the document or electronic/recorded information qualifies as a "record". ORC Section 149.011(G) defines a "record" to be any document, device, or item, regardless of physical form or characteristics, including an electronic record, created or received by or coming under the jurisdiction of any public office of the state or political subdivisions, which serves to document the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations or other activities of the office. Documents or electronic/recorded information that does not document public office activities in this manner are not subject to the Public Records Act and are not subject to public access. For example, an email between employees setting a lunch date does not document county government activities and does not qualify as a "record".
    If a document or electronic/recorded information does qualify as a "record" it is then a "public record," subject to public access and disclosure unless it is specifically exempt from disclosure under the terms of the Public Records Act. The second step of the analysis is to determine if any of the statutory exemptions apply to the document or electronic/recorded information. For example, attorney-client communications are confidential by state law and exempted from disclosure under the terms of the Public Records Act. A list of these exemptions is provided in Appendix A. These exemptions are to be narrowly construed and if a record does not clearly fit into one of these categories of exemptions, it must be released.
  • A notice describing this Public Records Policy Shall be kept on the shared drive of the health department server. The Scioto County District Board of Health and the Scioto County Health Department are jointly responsible for compliance.
  • Each employee shall follow the Scioto County Health Department Records Retention Schedule, adopted by the Scioto County District Board of Health on as well any Records Retention Schedules specific to each department. Records will be disposed only in accordance with the policy and procedures.
  • In accordance with ORC 149.43, the Scioto County Health Department Records Commission is comprised of a member of the Scioto County District Board of Health, the Administrator, Director of Nursing, Environmental Health Director and Fiscal Officer. All members may designate a representative to attend Records Commission meetings on their behalf.