This is an opinion of the Commissioner of Administration issued pursuant to section 13.072 of Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 13 - the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. It is based on the facts and information available to the Commissioner as described below.
Facts and Procedural History:For purposes of simplification, the information presented by the person who requested this opinion and the response from the government entity with which the person disagrees are presented in summary form. Copies of the complete submissions are on file at the offices of PIPA and, with the exception of any data classified as not public, are available for public access.
On June 20, 1997, PIPA received a letter dated June 19, 1997, from Tom Lamphere. In his letter, Mr. Lamphere requested that the Commissioner issue an advisory opinion regarding his access to certain data maintained by the University of Minnesota.
PIPA, on behalf of the Commissioner, wrote to Tracy Smith, Associate General Counsel at the University of Minnesota, in response to Mr. Lamphere's request. The purposes of this letter, dated June 24, 1997, were to inform her of Mr. Lamphere's request and to ask her to provide information or support for the University's position. On July 25, 1997, PIPA received a response, dated July 23, 1997, from Ms. Smith.
A summary of the facts surrounding this matter is as follows. In a letter dated December 23, 1996, Mr. Lamphere made a request to the University for access to certain data related to two separate events which occurred in 1996. Those data were the subject of a previous opinion issued by the Commissioner, 97-025. (In that opinion, the University responded that the data requested by Mr. Lamphere did not exist.)
On April 24, 1997, Mr. Lamphere wrote to Ms. Smith. He stated:
The Commissioner's understanding of the situation is that after Mr. Lamphere and Ms. Smith spoke, both parties were in agreement as to the two different events about which Mr. Lamphere was seeking data.
In a letter dated May 7, 1997, Ms. Smith responded to Mr. Lamphere's request. She wrote, "Please find enclosed in response to your April 24, 1997, request, documents related to a 1996 football brunch and a November 1996 event at Gleensheen."
In a letter dated May 12, 1997, Mr. Lamphere wrote:
Mr. Lamphere then listed the data stated in the "Issue" statement below. Having received no response from the University by June 19, 1997, Mr. Lamphere requested an advisory opinion.
|Has the University of Minnesota responded properly, pursuant to Minnesota Statutes Section 13.03, to a request for the following data:
Minnesota Statutes Section 13.03 sets forth a government entity's obligations to respond to requests for access to public government data. Subdivision 2 of Section 13.03 provides that the entity must respond in an "appropriate and prompt manner." Pursuant to Minnesota Rules Section 1205.0300, the entity must respond within a "reasonable time."
In her response to the issue raised by Mr. Lamphere, Ms. Smith stated, "I responded to Mr. Lamphere's April 24, 1997, request for data by letter dated May 7, 1997 (copy attached). Judith Karon responded to Mr. Lamphere's May 12, 1997, request for data by letter dated July 7, 1997 (copy attached). The University has met its obligations under [Chapter 13]."
It is correct that in a letter dated May 7, 1997, Ms. Smith responded to Mr. Lamphere's April 24, 1997, request. However, she did not provide all the data he requested. Mr. Lamphere, in turn, made a second request for the remaining data and, a month later, having heard nothing from the University, requested this advisory opinion. The University's response to Mr. Lamphere's follow-up request was dated July 7, 1997.
As stated above, pursuant to Section 13.03, subdivision 3, a government entity is required to respond to requests for access to data in a "prompt manner" and within a "reasonable time." In this case, approximately ten weeks passed before the University provided the data in response to Mr. Lamphere's April 24, 1997, request. The University has not responded "promptly" or within a "reasonable time."
Based on the facts and information provided, my opinion on the issue raised by Mr. Lamphere is as follows:
|Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes Section 13.03, subdivision 3, and Minnesota Rules Section 1205.0300, the University did not respond in a "prompt manner" or within a "reasonable time" to Mr. Lamphere's request.|
Elaine S. Hansen
Dated: August 14, 1997