Policy Number: 132
Handling Requests for Public Information
I. POLICY AND GENERAL STATEMENT
As an agency of the State of Texas, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“university”) must make available certain information to the public and to members of the university community under the Texas Public Information Act (“TPIA”) upon written request.
The university’s Public Information Officer is the Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer. The Public Information Officer or his/her designee has exclusive authority for coordinating responses to requests for public information under the TPIA and in accordance with UT System Policy 139 Texas Public Information Act.
Note: Several university policies affect the handling of certain types of requests for information. For example, HOOP Policy 147 Handling Legal Processes contains more information regarding handling specific legal requests such as subpoenas; HOOP Policy 181 Records Management Program discusses responsibilities for maintaining records; and information regarding requests for news stories and other public relations material is found in HOOP Policy 5 Handling Communications with the Media. Requests for medical records or medical information must be handled in accordance with the university's privacy policies.
Public Information: Information collected, assembled or maintained by the university in the course of its official business, unless the information falls within one or more exceptions to disclosure under the TPIA.
A. Obtaining Public Information
Individuals or entities that wish to request access to public information held by the university must send a written request to the Public Information Officer or as otherwise described on the university’s web-site.
B. Requests for Public Information Received by Employees
Any employee who receives a request for records or information shall immediately forward it to the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) via FAX, electronic mail or courier. Once the information has been forwarded, the original recipient of the request must follow-up with a telephone call to OLA. If an oral request is received, the requesting party should be directed to address the request in writing to the Public Information Officer. If the request is received via email the recipient of the email should reply notifying the requestor that requests for public information sent via email must be sent to email@example.com.
C. Responding to Public Information Requests
The Public Information Officer or his/her designee has the exclusive authority to release public information requested under the TPIA. Departments in possession of documents responsive to a public information request must provide information as directed by the Public Information Officer or his/her designee.
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