The 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 valid 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, or
A combination of the above
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 or telephones, 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.
Dan Sharphorn, Interim 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.
The TPIA contains specific exceptions that require or allow documents or data to be withheld from public disclosure in certain circumstances. Information is assumed public unless there is a valid and applicable 'exception' under TPIA.
In most cases, UT System cannot withhold documents or data under an exception without seeking an Attorney General's open records ruling to do so.
Discretionary Exceptions (Not Required to be Asserted)
Discretionary Exception is an exception under the 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 are not required to be asserted and 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 TPIA
The TPIA is triggered when a person submits a written request to a governmental body.
A PIR does not need to mention the TPIA to be considered a valid request under the TPIA.
Requestors may hand-deliver, fax, mail, or email their PIR.
A mailed or hand-delivered PIR can be sent to any UT System employee and must be addressed within the time allowed by law. If you receive a valid PIR, please forward it immediately to the PIO or PICs.
A PIR sent via fax or E-Mail to anyone other than the PIO or their designees,does not activate the deadlines imposed by the TPIA.
There is a 10-business day deadline to assert an exception under the TPIA and seek an Attorney General's open records ruling..
Contact your PIO or PICs 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, please date-stamp the PIR and send the date-stamped copy to the PIO or PICs immediately.
Your PICs will contact you for responsive documents when appropriate.
Send a copy of any responsive document (no originals).
Provide feedback to the PICs 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 and communicate this information to your PICs so costs can be recovered under the TPIA.
Examples of Recoverable Costs:
~Personnel time to locate, compile and copy
~Per page charges for copies
Does the TPIA apply to me?
As a government employee, all of your personnel file is subject to the 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 the 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 the TPIA.
You can choose to protect:
Emergency Contact Information
Social Security Number
Cell Phone Number, if not paid by UT System
**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.