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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Guest - Policy on Charges and Payments for Public Records

Guest

Policy on Charges and Payments
for Public Records

July 1, 2013

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources posted a new Public Records Request Policy June 28, 2013. The policy shall be in effect for requests received on or after July 1, 2013. The policy is available on the department's website at:
http://portal.ncdenr.org/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=5e7d3dcc-d9c2-43a3-8398-81d13b640001&groupId=21953

Below are some guidelines on public records requests for requestors. The full guidance document is available upon request.

General notes:

  • An extensive public records request is defined as any that takes more than 30 minutes to fulfill. This time limit includes all DENR staff involved in the request cumulatively.

  • Fees shall be collected before records are released to the requestor.

  • After communicating with the requestor to try to better understand the documents being sought, DENR staff will estimate any special service or duplication charges and verify the requestor’s intent to proceed. DENR shall notify requestors as soon as possible if it becomes known that charges will exceed an estimate by a significant amount. 

  • It is the policy of this department that requests will be processed as expeditiously as possible. However, DENR staff must take care that records that contain unredacted confidential information, including records that constitute “trial preparation material,” are not released. The term “trial preparation material” includes matters in active litigation or that may become a matter of litigation to which the Department is a party.

  • If records need to be taken from a Department facility or worksite (for instance, if a facility does not have equipment that can duplicate large-format documents), then DENR staff must accompany the records at all times.

Non-extensive requests:

  • Non-extensive requests are not subject to a special service charge, but duplication charges and digital media charges apply as follows:
    • $0.05 per page for duplication
    • The actual cost of any other digital media used to fulfill the request
    • Actual postage and packaging used to fulfill the request

Extensive requests:

  • An extensive public records request is one that takes more than 30 minutes to complete.
     
  • The special service charge for extensive requests is calculated as the “actual time it takes to locate, copy and re-file the records requested.”
    • Included in the total time:
      • Time spent determining whether a document is responsive to the request or not
    • Not included:
      • Time needed to separate confidential from non-confidential information (e.g., redaction)
      • Time spent reviewing the documentsbeyond determining whether it should be included in the request
      • Time spent by a PIO or similar official to compile the request
  • Duplication and digital media charges apply consistent with the charges outlined above for non-extensive requests.
     
  • The special service charge is calculated by multiplying the total time spent responding to the request (as outlined in III.5 above) by “the actual cost of the holder’s labor, both salary and benefits.” In practice, DENR has been advised to use a salary multiplier of1.51 and to assume 2,080 work hours per year to find an hourly rate.
     
  • The charge is calculated using the hourly rate of the lowest-paid employee who worked on the request multiplied by the total time spent.
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