REG 04.00.02 - Public Records Request

Authority: Issued by the Chancellor. Changes or exceptions to administrative regulations issued by the Chancellor may only be made by the Chancellor.

History: First Issued: July 1, 2002. Last Revised: March 25, 2010.

Related Policies: 
NCSU REG04.00.01 - Standard Operating Procedures for Crisis Communications
NCSU REG11.00.01 - Family Educational Rights and Privacy (FERPA)

Contact Info: 
Associate Vice Chancellor for Communications (919-515-7373) 
Records Officer (919-515-1526)


1. INTRODUCTION

North Carolina State University, as a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina and an agency of the State of North Carolina, is open and responsive to information requests from the public and the news media. NC State is committed to a policy of openness, honesty and cooperation with members of the public and the news media. This policy will be implemented in accordance with the NC Public Records Act, N.C.G.S. Chapter 132.

2. PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS AND RELEASE OF INFORMATION TO THE NEWS MEDIA

University Communications is the principal liaison with the news media. The news media should direct its request for information to the university’s News Services (919-515-3470).

Any request received directly from the news media by another unit on campus should be forwarded immediately to News Services for preparation of a response. University Communications is delegated the authority to determine if the request for records is from a representative of the news media or from an individual.

To assure coordination of media relations, only three offices at the university are authorized to issue news releases or to hold news conferences on behalf of the university. Those divisions are University Communications for university-wide activities, Agricultural Communications for cooperative extension and agricultural research activities and Sports Information for athletic activities. All news releases and news conferences should be coordinated through one of those offices. Faculty and staff are encouraged to utilize the resources of these offices, which work together to gain broad recognition of the university's areas of excellence.

3. PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS FROM INDIVIDUALS

Individuals who seek public records of the university must submit a written request to the university’s Records Officer, NC State University, Office of General Counsel, Campus Box 7008, Raleigh, NC 27695-7008. The Records Officer will determine the office or offices that hold the requested records, obtain those records, and prepare a response to the request from the individual.

An administrator, faculty member or staff member who receives a request directly from an individual should forward a copy of this regulation to the requestor, noting in particular the requirement that the request must be in writing and submitted to the Records Officer.

3.1 What is public information?

All records created or received in the course of university business, in whatever format, including but not limited to paper, photographs, recordings, emails or digital images, constitute public records unless an exception applies under federal or state law.

3.2 What is not public information?

Certain information is confidential under federal or state law and not subject to release. Any questions regarding the confidentiality of records or portions of records must be directed to the Records Officer prior to release. The most common exceptions, include but are not limited to, the following types of information:

3.2.1 Personnel records -- Information in an individual's personnel record is confidential under the State Personnel Privacy Act, but certain information about each employee is open to public inspection under N.C.G.S. 126-23.

3.2.2 University students' academic, medical and counseling records -- State law mandates that medical and counseling records are confidential., In addition, the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), restricts information that can be released about a student, but allows the release of directory information, unless the student files a request that it not be released (“privacy block”). Please see the NCSU's FERPA Regulation for the definition of directory information.

a. Before releasing directory information about any student, the employee receiving the request must check with the Office of Registration and Records to determine whether a student has placed a privacy block on his or her directory information.

b. FERPA provides other exceptions for disclosure, including with the written consent of the student.

3.2.3 Library user records -- State law (N.C. Gen. Statute 125-19) states that "a library shall not disclose any library record that identifies a person as having requested or obtained specific materials, information, or services, or as otherwise having used the library." Exceptions include "when necessary for the reasonable operation of the library, upon written consent of the user, or pursuant to subpoena, court order or where otherwise required by law."

3.2.4 Patent applications and other documents that contain trade secrets as defined in state law.

3.2.5 Certain contract or bid records prior to a final contract.

3.2.6 Attorney-client communications and trial preparation materials.

3.2.7 Certain criminal investigation and law enforcement records.

3.3 CRISIS/EMERGENCY SITUATIONS

NC State has established a Crisis Communications Plan to guide campus administrators, faculty and staff in the event of a crisis or emergency affecting the campus. Individuals who become aware of a potential crisis situation are urged to refer to the Crisis Communication Plan and to notify University Communications, News Services or the appropriate department head, and to make themselves available to assist in gathering facts. University Communications, coordinating with the appropriate administrative officials identified in the Crisis Communications Plan, will release factual information through news releases, briefings or an official spokesperson.

4. COPYING FEE

If the requestor asks for copies of documents, the university may charge the actual costs of the copies. Generally, the university will not charge for the costs of copies unless the number of pages exceeds fifty (50) pages. Thereafter, the charge will be five (5) cents per page.

5. SPECIAL SERVICE CHARGE FOR EXTRAORDINARY PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS

If the request is such as to require extensive use of information technology resources or extensive clerical or supervisory assistance, or if producing the records in the medium requested results in an excessive use of information technology resources, then the university may charge, in addition to the copying fee, a special service charge. The special service charge will be reasonable and no greater than the actual costs incurred. The university considers more than four (4) hours to constitute extensive use of personnel. If preparation of the response to the request exceeds four (4) hours, the university will charge a presumed rate of $18.00 per hour for the additional time. The Records Officer will provide an estimate of the costs for an extraordinary request prior to making the records available for inspection or release and allow the requestor the option of either agreeing to pay the charge or revising the request to narrow its nature or scope. Multiple requests within a short period of time from the same individual will be considered a single request for purposes of determining whether to charge under this section.