TPIA is the state statute that provides a framework for public access to government records (including your personnel files)
**All UT System departments must work together to maintain compliance with TPIA!
All public information requests must be addressed in a timely manner by either:
Certifying that material doesn't exist
Producing material, or
Seeking an Attorney General's Opinion to withhold the information
Definitions & Acronyms
Public Information Request (PIR)
A written request for access to information collected, assembled, or maintained by or for UT System. "Information" exists in paper, tape, microfilm, video, electronic data held in computer memory, and other mediums specified under the law.
**All information created in the course of business is subject to TPIA.
Public Information Officer (PIO)
The individual authorized to receive PIRs on the UT System Administration's behalf.
Barry Burgdorf, Vice Chancellor and General Counsel, is the PIO for UT System Administration.
Public Information Coordinator (PIC)
The alternate individual authorized to receive PIRs and who processes them on behalf of the PIO.
TPIA contains specific exceptions that allow documents or data to be withheld from public disclosure in certain circumstances. Information is assumed public unless there is a valid 'exception' under TPIA.
In most cases, UT System cannot withhold data under an exception without seeking an Attorney General's opinion to do so.
An exception under TPIA intended to protect only the interests of the governmental body, as distinct from those that protect third parties or information confidential by law. These exceptions may be waived if not timely asserted under TPIA. It is important to pay prompt attention to any PIRs received because UT System Administration may unintentionally waive it's TPIA exceptions if they are not timely asserted.
To Invoke the Act
TPIA is triggered when a person submits a written request to a governmental body
A PIR need not specifically name TPIA to be considered a valid request under the Act
Requestors may hand-deliver, fax, mail, or email their inquiry
A mailed or hand-delivered PIR can be sent to any UT System employee and must be addressed within the time allowed by law
A PIR sent via fax or E-Mail to anyone other than the PIO or their designees,does not activate the deadlines imposed by TPIA
There is a 10-working day deadline to seek an exception under TPIA
Contact your PIC immediately upon receipt of a PIR
What do I do if I receive a request?
If a PIR is mailed or hand-delivered to you directly, send a date-stamped copy to the PIO or PIC immediately
Your PIC will contact you for responsive documents when appropriate
Send 2 copies of any responsive document (no originals)
Provide feedback if there is concern about material that is subject to release
What your PIC needs to know
WHEN and HOW did we receive this request?
WHAT documents are they requesting?
WHERE is responsive information located?
WHO is making the request?
*The law forbids a governmental agency from asking WHY someone wants material.
When there are no exceptions to disclosure, UT System must release the information
Document the time and resources expended in gathering responsive materials so that costs can be recovered under TPIA
Examples of Recoverable Costs:
Personnel time to locate, compile and copy
Per page charges for copies
Does TPIA apply to me?
As a government employee, all of your personnel file is subject to TPIA
There are, however, specific exceptions for some personnel information
Notes made by an employee as well as e-mail correspondence in personal e-mail accounts may be subject to TPIA if the documents relate to UT System Business.
As with other requests, the Attorney General determines whether personal notes or e-mails are "public information" subject to TPIA
You can choose to protect:
Social Security Number
**The 79th Legislature added Section 552.147 to the Public Information Act. This section makes the social security numbers of any living person confidential by law. Even if your disclosure form does not indicate you wish to keep your social security number confidential, we are now precluded from releasing it as a matter of law; thus this data will not be released in response to a public information request.
How do I protect this information?
A designation form MUST be on file at the time a request is received by UT System.