UPDATED 3/4/11 3:00 p.m.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has informed the head of the state’s open records agency that she’s being laid off and that he plans to replace her with his own appointee.

Cathy Takase has been acting director of the Hawaii Office of Information Practices, which administers the state’s open records law.

Abercrombie Press Secretary Donalyn Dela Cruz told Civil Beat Friday morning that the transition will take place this month. OIP chiefs do not need to be confirmed by the Hawaii Senate.

In February, Takase told the governor he would be violating state law if he continued to withhold the list of judicial nominees to fill a vacancy on the Hawaii Supreme Court. Several news outlets, including Civil Beat, had requested that information, which has not been made public.

Asked if the change in OIP leadership should be interpreted as the governor’s dissatisfaction with Takase’s work or any recent opinion, Dela Cruz said: “Oh no. There isn’t any of that. It’s just truly a timing issue.”

Dela Cruz disputed the idea that Takase was fired, saying that her term had ended Friday. In fact, according to state law, while the governor does indeed appoint OIP’s director, that appointee does not have a set term length. Takase was an at-will employee.

Takase took over the agency in November 2009 on an interim basis after Linda Lingle appointee Paul Tsukiyama left OIP to take another state position.

Dela Cruz said she did not know if Takase would remain with OIP in another capacity or would be reassigned elsewhere in the administration.

OIP has been underfunded and largely ignored by other government agencies since a court ruling made opinions advisory rather than binding.

Asked if the move meant the governor planned to replace attorneys within the agency, Dela Cruz said major changes would not take place “unless the director feels it’s necessary, which I don’t know. I think like all of the directors for different offices and departments, they’re tasked with going in and seeing how their office or department can work more efficiently.”

The name of the new appointee has not yet been announced.

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