Ongoing Series { An Examination of Hawaii's Public Records Law

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

flickr: Digitizedchaos

Finding out how the public uses Hawaii's open records law isn't easy. And it's not cheap either.

And that's despite a state requirement that agencies send a report to the Hawaii Office of Information Practices every year about public records requests. Turns out virtually none of them are doing it.

Case in point: The Hawaii Department of Human Services wants $123,000 to look at all public records requests it received in the last year.

Officials there say it will take 11,591 man-hours — or a year and four months — to search for the records and copy an estimated 2,500 pages of documents.

Civil Beat is trying to understand how people make use of Hawaii's open records law and how effective it is. We've asked 29 state agencies to allow us to review the records requests they've received since the start of the Abercrombie administration. That time period would give us roughly one year of records. We also asked for their responses to those requests, including any fees levied for documents.

Some agencies — including the Human Services department — have made every effort to work with Civil Beat on this project. Nine departments fulfilled our request free of charge.

But it has been a struggle for most departments to provide the data because many say they just don't track public records request.

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