Hawaii Office of Information Practices

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The Office of Information Practices, or OIP, is the state agency tasked with administering Hawaii’s open government laws. The OIP lists its mission as,  “ensuring open government while protecting individual privacy.”

The agency, which falls under the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, was established in 1988 to “protect the public’s interest” by ensuring that government processes are as transparent as possible.

Civil Beat reported in 2011 that the Honolulu Police Department was deliberating whether or not its public records protocol complied with Hawaii open records law. OIP in September 2011 advised the city that the law required disclosure of the name, title and salaries of all city employees unless the employee was at some point involved in “undercover law enforcement activity.”

However, unlike every other government agency in Hawaii and Honolulu, HPD did not provide Civil Beat with such records.

Leadership Change in 2011

In April 2011, Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed Cheryl Kakazu Park to replace Cathy Takase as OIP director.

The transition received a lot of attention: Takase said she had been fired after telling Abercrombie in an advisory opinion that he was breaking the law by refusing to disclose the list of judicial nominees for a Hawaii Supreme Court vacancy.

Civil Beat was among several news outlets that had requested the list.

Kakazu Park has said that the OIP will not issue another advisory opinion under her administration, citing that it would be “futile.”

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser eventually sued the governor’s office in court on this issue and won. Around the same time, the Hawaii Judicial Selection Commission decided that moving forward, it would change its policy and release the names of all nominees it gives to the governor. Following the commission’s decision, Abercrombie grudgingly released the list of judicial nominees.

Latest

A 2017 report by the Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest found that the state Office of Information Practices favors government agencies in disputes and takes too long to resolve complaints over access to public records and meetings.

The law center’s executive director, Brian Black, examined OIP administrations over the last 10 years and found the average time to decision for major matters has almost quintupled.

He also found the number of matters decided per year had dropped to its lowest level since the creation of the office in 1988, leading to an increase in its backlog of pending matters, according to the center’s 13-page report, “Breaking Down Hawaii’s Broken System for Resolving Public Access Disputes.” The OIP denied the evidence presented and said it was biased and inaccurate.

Overview

Specifically, the OIP enforces Hawaii’s open records and open meetings laws:

  • The open records law, under The Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA), enables public access to the records of all state and county government agencies in accordance with certain guidelines, according to the OIP’s web site.
  • The open meetings law, commonly known as the Sunshine Law, regulates how all state and county boards conduct official business. Essentially, the law holds that boards cannot discuss business matters in secret — boards are required to give public notice of meetings, maintain public access to those meetings, provide opportunities for public testimony and keep minutes of all meetings. The OIP offers guidance on the Sunshine Law and addresses complaints with respect to the law. The Hawaii Legislature is exempted from the Sunshine Law.

Click here to see a guide to Hawaii’s open government laws.

court ruling rendered OIP opinion advisory rather than binding. Now, the OIP remains “underfunded and largely ignored by other government agencies,” Civil Beat reported earlier this year.

State law requires that the director be appointed by the governor. But the office is also staffed by attorneys, all of whom report to the director.

Contact Information

No. 1 Capitol District Building
250 South Hotel Street, Suite 107
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Phone: (808) 586-1400
Fax: (808) 586-1412

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Hawaii Office of Information Practices

September 2017

Thursday, September 28

State Agency Proposes Tripling Fees For Access To Public Records

February 2017

Thursday, February 9

Report: Public Records Agency Slower Than Ever With Appeals

December 2016

Thursday, December 1

Lawsuit Targets Secrecy In Hawaii Tax Change Proposals

January 2015

Tuesday, January 6

Hawaii Public Records Agency Continues to Struggle With Slim Budget

December 2014

Monday, December 15

Prying Public Records from Government’s Grip: An Exercise in Patience

April 2014

Tuesday, April 1

Should County Councils Be Free to Meet in Public?

February 2013

Tuesday, February 26

In the Name of the Law: UH Students vs. The Police

A Test Of Hawaii’s Fledgling Public Records Law

Monday, February 25

In the Name of the Law: What the Public Isn’t Being Told About Police Misconduct

July 2012

Wednesday, July 11

Not So Public: Open Records Agency Takes Up Our Appeal, 1 Year Later

May 2012

Wednesday, May 2

Off The Beat: Open Records Agency Does Public No Favors

April 2012

Friday, April 27

OIP Questions The ‘State Accountability Project’

Tuesday, April 10

Let Us Now Praise a Lone Hawaii Voice Fighting for Open Records

March 2012

Thursday, March 22

Public Access to Information, in Practice

Monday, March 19

List – Top 3 Areas Where Hawaii Less Accountable Than Other States

List – The 6 States Less Accountable Than Hawaii

Sunday, March 18

Hawaii Has No More Excuses For Not Improving Accountability

Friday, March 16

Hawaii Ranks Near Bottom for Enforcement of Transparency Laws

Wednesday, March 14

Accountability Project: Hawaii Compared With Other States

Civil Beat and the State Accountability Project

All Is Not Sunny When It Comes to Ethics in Hawaii

Grading the Nation: How Accountable Is Your State?

February 2012

Tuesday, February 21

Tech-Savvy Leaders Push Honolulu Toward Gov 2.0

Monday, February 20

Counties Want Break from Hawaii Sunshine Law

Tuesday, February 14

Off The Beat: Transparency Should Start At The Top

Not So Public: Hawaii Agency Wants $123,000 To Review Records

Wednesday, February 8

Hawaii Should Publish Government Legal Notices On the Internet

January 2012

Friday, January 27

Hawaii Open Records Agency Ahead of the Curve on Social Media

December 2011

Friday, December 30

2011 Year in Review — Government Transparency

November 2011

Friday, November 18

Off The Beat: Should OIP Be Patting Itself on the Back?

September 2011

Thursday, September 22

In the Dark About Possible Sunshine Violation

Friday, September 9

Hawaii’s Sunshine Law Doesn’t Cast Much Light on Government Meetings

Friday, September 2

Honolulu Rail Authority Follows Abercrombie Secrecy Doctrine