Learn About Our Public Records Policy
I. Policy Provision
All public records requests must be reviewed by the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority ("OTTA") In-House Counsel prior to any information being provided to the requestor. In addition, the delivery of all responses shall be coordinated with the Director of Marketing.
II. Definition of Public Record
All records kept by OTTA are public unless they are exempt from disclosure under Ohio law (i.e., private customer information, as explained in our privacy notice, located here). All public records must be organized and maintained in such a way that they can be made available for inspection and copying.
Public record is defined to include any item that:
- Contains information stored on a fixed medium, such as paper, computer, film, email, etc.
- Is created, received, or sent under the jurisdiction of OTTA
- And documents OTTA's organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities.
Ohio Revised Code § 149.43 defines how records must be made available to the public.
- Any person may ask to inspect and/or receive copies of public records. "Any person" includes individuals or corporations, and is not limited to Ohio residents.
- Although Ohio law does not require a written request, to avoid misunderstandings as to the records requested, it is preferable to have the request in writing. If the requestor declines to provide the request in writing, the employee who receives the request should promptly create a written document recording the employee's understanding of what public records are being requested and the date the request was made. The request should specifically and particularly describe the record being sought. A request for information, as opposed to a particular record, may not be a legally adequate request. If it is not clear what records are being sought, OTTA staff must contact the requestor for clarification, and will assist the requestor in revising the request by informing the requestor of the manner in which the office keeps its public records.
- The requestor is not legally obligated to provide his, her or its identity or the intended use of the requested public record. It is not OTTA's policy that this information is to be requested. However, the law does permit the office to ask for a written request, the requestor's identity, and/or the intended use of the information requested, but only
- If a written request or disclosure of identity and intended use would benefit the requestor by enhancing the agency's ability to identify, locate or deliver the public records that have been requested; and
- After telling the requestor that a written request is not required and that the requestor may decline to reveal the requestor's identity or intended use.
- OTTA's In-House Counsel should be immediately contacted regarding all records requested so that a determination can be made as to whether the records requested are in fact public records and/or whether there may be a need to redact certain information before disclosure due to legal requirements. The OTTA In-House Counsel will evaluate all requests and discuss how individual requests should be processed with the Director of Marketing.
- The requestor has a right to receive the record duplicated on paper, or upon the same medium upon which OTTA keeps it (e.g., computer disk or magnetic tape), or upon any other medium that OTTA determines can reasonably be duplicated as part of normal operations.
IV. Response Timeframe
- Public records are to be available for inspection during regular business hours, with the exception of published holidays. Public records must be made available for inspection promptly.
- In processing the request, OTTA does not have an obligation to create new records or perform new analysis of existing information.
- It is the goal of OTTA that all requests for public records should be acknowledged in writing within two business days or, if possible, immediately satisfied. If the request cannot be satisfied immediately, OTTA will respond to the requestor by sending an acknowledgment including the following information:
- An estimated number of business days it will take to satisfy the request.
- An estimated cost if copies are requested.
- Any items within the request that may be exempt from disclosure.
- When copies of public records are requested, OTTA will provide such records within a reasonable period of time.
- When inspection of public records is requested, OTTA will arrange an appointment for inspection at a mutually convenient time during regular business hours. OTTA will prepare and make available the records for inspection at a location within its office at 35 E. Chestnut Street, Columbus, Ohio, which will minimally disrupt the normal working environment. The In-House Counsel, or designee, shall accompany the requestor at all times to insure the integrity of records and to make certain original records are not removed from the premises, destroyed, or altered in any way.
V. Cost To Fulfill Request
- For duplication of public records on paper, OTTA may charge the requestor its actual cost of production, which for paper copies is five cents ($.05) per page for each photocopy. For duplication of public records on any other medium (e.g. computer disc, etc.) OTTA may charge actual cost to accomplish the duplication. The charge will be communicated to the requestor via invoice.
- If requested, copies of public records should be mailed via regular United States postal service within a reasonable period of time after receiving the request. OTTA may require the requestor to pay in advance for all copies, as well as the cost of postage and mailing supplies prior to mailing.
- There is no charge for emailed documents.
VI. Public Records Log
- OTTA, through the In-House Counsel or designee, will keep a log of all public records requests fulfilled or not fulfilled at the time they are made. The log will include the following components:
- Date of request (and date request received by OTTA if different)
- Name of person or entity making the request (if provided)
- Type of records requested
- Date of release of records to requestor
- Legal authority for any redactions or withholdings
- Name of person fulfilling the request
VII. Electronic Records
- As required by Ohio Law, records shall be organized and maintained in a manner so that they can be made readily available for inspection and copying.
- Documents in electronic mail are public records, as defined by the Ohio Revised Code, when they relate to agency business. Records in the form of email, text messaging, and instant messaging, including those sent and received via a hand-held communications device (such as an iPhone) are to be treated in the same fashion as records in other formats, such as paper or audiotape.
- Public record content transmitted to or from private accounts or personal devices is subject to disclosure. All employees or representatives of this office are required to retain their email records and other electronic records in accordance with applicable records retention schedules.
- Microsoft Lync should not be used for communications that would constitute more than transient records. Transient records convey information of temporary importance in lieu of oral communication. The informal tone of transient messages might be compared to a communication that might take place during a telephone conversation or a conversation in the office hallway. Microsoft Lync is made available as a convenient alternative to other means of transitory communication, and not for the conduct of more formal agency business. Transient messages do not set policy, establish guidelines or procedures, certify a transaction, or become a receipt. Should such communication occur over Microsoft Lync, the party initiating the communication must save the communication in a Word document and retain it pursuant to the appropriate retention schedule.
VIII. Denial or Redaction of Records
- If the requestor makes an ambiguous or overly broad request or has difficulty in making a request for public records, the request may be denied, but the denial must provide the requestor an opportunity to revise the request by informing the requestor of the manner in which records are maintained and accessed by the office.
- Any denial of public records requested must include an explanation, including legal authority. If the initial request was made in writing, the explanation must also be in writing. If portions of a record are public and portions are exempt, the exempt portions may be redacted and the rest released. When making public records available for public inspection or copying, the office shall notify the requestor of any redaction or make the redaction plainly visible. If there are redactions, each redaction must be accompanied by a supporting explanation, including legal authority.
IX. Managing Records
- OTTA records are subject to records retention schedules. OTTA's current schedules are available at the following locations, readily available to the public as required by § 149.43(B)(2), Ohio Revised Code: The OTTA offices at 35 E. Chestnut St., Columbus, Ohio, or http://apps.das.ohio.gov/rims/Search/PublicSearch.asp by searching "TTA" under the "Agency" drop-down menu.
- Questions regarding this policy should be directed to the In-House Counsel.
There are several exceptions to the general availability of public records. The In-House Counsel shall examine each request and assert, if applicable, the appropriate exception.
Revised: March 17, 2015