Open Records Act



As a State Agency, the University of Oklahoma is subject to the Open Records Act. This law is set out in Title 51, Section 24 of the Oklahoma State Statutes.

The University has developed an excellent summary of the Open Records Act in its general Policies and Procedures documentation. This summary can be accessed at the following link:

http://admin-scb.ouhsc.edu/policy/#111

Additionally, for your convenience, the law is shown below in its entirety (except that certain sections that apply only to a specific agency are omitted).

51-24A.2 - Introduction

As the Oklahoma Constitution recognizes and guarantees, all political power is inherent in the people. Thus, it is the public policy of the State of Oklahoma that the people are vested with the inherent right to know and be fully informed about their government. The Oklahoma Open Records Act shall not create, directly or indirectly, any rights of privacy or any remedies for violation of any rights of privacy; nor shall the Oklahoma Open Records Act, except as specifically set forth in the Oklahoma Open Records Act, establish any procedures for protecting any person from release of information contained in public records. The purpose of this act is to ensure and facilitate the public's right of access to and review of government records so they may efficiently and intelligently exercise their inherent political power. The privacy interests of individuals are adequately protected in the specific exceptions to the Oklahoma Open Records Act or in the statutes which authorize, create or require the records. Except where specific state or federal statutes create a confidential privilege, persons who submit information to public bodies have no right to keep this information from public access nor reasonable expectation that this information will be kept from public access; provided, the person, agency or political subdivision shall at all times bear the burden of establishing such records are protected by such a confidential privilege. Except as may be required by other statutes, public bodies do not need to follow any procedures for providing access to public records except those specifically required by the Oklahoma Open Records Act.

51-24A.3 - Definitions. As Used in the Act

1. "Record" means all documents, including, but not limited to, any book, paper, photograph, microfilm, data files created by or used with computer software, computer tape, disk, and record, sound recording, film recording, video record or other material regardless of physical form or characteristic, created by, received by, under the authority of, or coming into the custody, control or possession of public officials, public bodies, or their representatives in connection with the transaction of public business, the expenditure of public funds or the administering of public property. "Record" does not mean computer software, nongovernment personal effects or, unless public disclosure is required by other laws or regulations, vehicle movement records of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority obtained in connection with the Authority's electronic toll collection system, personal financial information, credit reports or other financial data obtained by or submitted to a public body for the purpose of evaluating credit worthiness, obtaining a license, permit, or for the purpose of becoming qualified to contract with a public body;

2. "Public body" shall include, but not be limited to, any office, department, board, bureau, commission, agency, trusteeship, authority, council, committee, trust or any entity created by a trust, county, city, village, town, township, district, school district, fair board, court, executive office, advisory group, task force, study group, or any subdivision thereof, supported in whole or in part by public funds or entrusted with the expenditure of public funds or administering or operating public property, and all committees, or subcommittees thereof. Except for the records required by Section 24A.4 of this title, "public body" does not mean judges, justices, the Council on Judicial Complaints, the Legislature, or legislators;

3. "Public office" means the physical location where public bodies conduct business or keep records;

4. "Public official" means any official or employee of any public body as defined herein; and

5. "Law enforcement agency" means any public body charged with enforcing state or local criminal laws and initiating criminal prosecutions, including, but not limited to, police departments, county sheriffs, the Department of Public Safety, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission, and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

51-24A.4 - Responsibility to Maintain Complete Records

In addition to other records which are kept or maintained, every public body and public official has a specific duty to keep and maintain complete records of the receipt and expenditure of any public funds reflecting all financial and business transactions relating thereto, except that such records may be disposed of as provided by law.

51-24A.5 - Provisions and Exceptions

All records of public bodies and public officials shall be open to any person for inspection, copying, and/or mechanical reproduction during regular business hours; provided:

1. The Oklahoma Open Records Act, Section 24A.1 et seq. of this title, does not apply to records specifically required by law to be kept confidential including:

a. records protected by a state evidentiary privilege such as the attorney-client privilege, the work product immunity from discovery and the identity of informer privileges, or

b. records of what transpired during meetings of a public body lawfully closed to the public such as executive sessions authorized under the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act, Section 301 et seq. of Title 25 of the Oklahoma Statutes.

2. Any reasonably segregable portion of a record containing exempt material shall be provided after deletion of the exempt portions, provided however, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety shall not be required to assemble for the requesting person specific information requested from the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety's Driver License file relating to persons whose names and dates of birth or whose driver license numbers are not furnished by the requesting person. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation shall not be required to assemble for the requesting person any criminal history records relating to persons whose names and dates of birth are not furnished by the requesting person.

3. Any request for a record which contains individual records of persons and the cost of copying, reproducing or certifying such individual record which is otherwise prescribed by state law, the cost may be assessed for each individual record, or portion thereof requested as prescribed by state law. Otherwise, a public body may charge a fee only for recovery of the reasonable, direct costs of document copying, or mechanical reproduction. Notwithstanding any state or local provision to the contrary, in no instance shall said document copying fee exceed twenty-five cents ($0.25) per page for documents having the dimensions of eight and one-half (8 1/2) by fourteen (14) inches or smaller, or a maximum of One Dollar ($1.00) per copied page for a certified copy. However, if the request:

a. is solely for commercial purpose, or

b. would clearly cause excessive disruption of the public body's essential functions, then the public body may charge a reasonable fee to recover the direct cost of document search; however, publication in a newspaper or broadcast by news media for news purposes shall not constitute a resale or use of data for trade or commercial purpose and charges for providing copies of electronic data to the news media for a news purpose shall not exceed the direct cost of making the copy.

Any public body establishing fees under this act shall post a written schedule of said fees at its principal office and with the county clerk.

In no case shall a search fee be charged when the release of said documents is in the public interest, including, but not limited to, release to the news media, scholars, authors and taxpayers seeking to determine whether those entrusted with the affairs of the government are honestly, faithfully, and competently performing their duties as public servants.

The fees shall not be used for the purpose of discouraging requests for information or as obstacles to disclosure of requested information.

4. The land description tract index of all recorded instruments concerning real property required to be kept by the county clerk of any county shall be available for inspection or copying in accordance with the provisions of the Oklahoma Open Records Act; provided, however, such index shall not be copied and/or mechanically reproduced for the purpose of sale of such information.

5. A public body must provide prompt, reasonable access to its records but may establish reasonable procedures which protect the integrity and organization of its records and to prevent excessive disruptions of its essential functions.

6. A public body shall designate certain persons who are authorized to release records of the public body for inspection, copying, or mechanical reproduction. At least one such person shall be available at all times to release records during the regular business hours of the public body.

51-24A.6 - Access and Hours of Access

A. If a public body or its office does not have regular business hours of at least thirty (30) hours a week, the public body shall post and maintain a written notice at its principal office and with the county clerk where the public body is located which notice shall:

1. Designate the days of the week when records are available for inspection, copying or mechanical reproduction;

2. Set forth the name, mailing address, and telephone number of the individual in charge of the records; and

3. Describe in detail the procedures for obtaining access to the records at least two days of the week, excluding Sunday.

B. The person requesting the record and the person authorized to release the records of the public body may agree to inspection, copying, or mechanical reproduction on a day and at a time other than that designated in the notice.

51-24A.7 - Personnel Records

A. A public body may keep personnel records confidential:

1. Which relate to internal personnel investigations including examination and selection material for employment, hiring, appointment, promotion, demotion, discipline, or resignation; or

2. Where disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy such as employee evaluations, payroll deductions, employment applications submitted by persons not hired by the public body, and transcripts from institutions of higher education maintained in the personnel files of certified public school employees; provided, however, that nothing in this subsection shall be construed to exempt from disclosure the degree obtained and the curriculum on the transcripts of certified public school employees.

B. All personnel records not specifically falling within the exceptions provided in subsection A of this section shall be available for public inspection and copying including, but not limited to, records of:

1. An employment application of a person who becomes a public official;

2. The gross receipts of public funds;

3. The dates of employment, title or position; and

4. Any final disciplinary action resulting in loss of pay, suspension, demotion of position, or termination.

C. Except as may otherwise be made confidential by statute, an employee of a public body shall have a right of access to his own personnel file.

D. Public bodies shall keep confidential the home address of any person employed or formerly employed by the public body.

51-24A.8 - (Applicable Only to Law Enforcement Agencies - Not Included Here)

51-24A.9 - Personal Notes and Materials

Prior to taking action, including making a recommendation or issuing a report, a public official may keep confidential his or her personal notes and personally created materials other than departmental budget requests of a public body prepared as an aid to memory or research leading to the adoption of a public policy or the implementation of a public project.

51-24A.10 - Handling of Information Supplied to but not Required by an Agency

A. Any information, records or other material heretofore voluntarily supplied to any state agency, board or commission which was not required to be considered by that agency, board or commission in the performance of its duties may, within thirty (30) days from the effective date of this act, be removed from the files of such agency, board or commission by the person or entity which originally voluntarily supplied such information. Provided, after thirty (30) days from the effective date of this act, any information voluntarily supplied shall be subject to full disclosure pursuant to this act.

B. If disclosure would give an unfair advantage to competitors or bidders, a public body may keep confidential records relating to:

1. Bid specifications for competitive bidding prior to publication by the public body; or

2. Contents of sealed bids prior to the opening of bids by a public body; or

3. Computer programs or software but not data thereon; or

4. Appraisals relating to the sale or acquisition of real estate by a public body prior to award of a contract; or

5. The prospective location of a private business or industry prior to public disclosure of such prospect except for records otherwise open to inspection such as applications for permits or licenses.

C. Except as set forth hereafter, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce may keep confidential:

1. Business plans, feasibility studies, financing proposals, marketing plans, financial statements or trade secrets submitted by a person or entity seeking economic advice from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce; and

2. Information compiled by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce in response to those submissions. The Oklahoma Department of Commerce may not keep confidential that submitted information when and to the extent the person or entity submitting the information consents to disclosure.

D. Although they must provide public access to their records, including records of the name, address, rate paid for services, charges, and payment for each customer, public bodies that provide utility services to the public may keep confidential credit information, credit card numbers, telephone numbers, and bank account information for individual customers.

51-24A.10a - Special Provision for the Oklahoma Medical Center

The Oklahoma Medical Center may keep confidential market research conducted by and marketing plans developed by the Oklahoma Medical Center if the Center determines that disclosure of such research or plans would give an unfair advantage to competitors of the Oklahoma Medical Center regarding marketing research and planning, public education, and advertising and promotion of special and general services provided by the Oklahoma Medical Center.

51-24A.11 - Library, Archive, or Museum Materials

A. A public body may keep confidential library, archive, or museum materials donated to the public body to the extent of any limitations imposed as a condition of the donation and any information which would reveal the identity of an individual who lawfully makes a donation to or on behalf of a public body including, but not limited to, donations made through a foundation operated in compliance with Sections 5-145 and 4306 of Title 70 of the Oklahoma Statutes.

B. If library, archive, or museum materials are donated to a public body and the donation may be claimed as a tax deduction, the public body may keep confidential any information required as a condition of the donation except the date of the donation, the appraised value claimed for the donation, and a general description of the materials donated and their quantity.

51-24A.12-Materials Held by Attorneys

Except as otherwise provided by state or local law, the Attorney General of the State of Oklahoma and agency attorneys authorized by law, the office of the district attorney of any county of the state, and the office of the municipal attorney of any municipality may keep its litigation files and investigatory reports confidential.

51-24A.13- Federal Records

Records coming into the possession of a public body from the federal government or records generated or gathered as a result of federal legislation may be kept confidential to the extent required by federal law.

51-24A.14 - Materials Covered by Rights Secured by the Constitution

Except for the fact that a communication has been received and that it is or is not a complaint, a public official may keep confidential personal communications received by the public official from a person exercising rights secured by the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma or the Constitution of the United States. The public official's written response to this personal communication may be kept confidential only to the extent necessary to protect the identity of the person exercising the right.

51-24A.15 - (Applicable Only to The Department of Agriculture - Not Included Here)

51-24A.16 - Student Records Kept by Educational Institutions

A. Except as set forth in subsection B of this section, public educational institutions and their employees may keep confidential:

1. Individual student records;

2. Teacher lesson plans, tests and other teaching material; and

3. Personal communications concerning individual students.

B. If kept, statistical information not identified with a particular student and directory information shall be open for inspection and copying. "Directory information" includes a student's name, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, and the most recent previous educational institution attended by the student. Any educational agency or institution making public directory information shall give public notice of the categories of information which it has designated as such information with respect to each student attending the institution or agency and shall allow a reasonable period of time after such notice has been given for a parent to inform the institution or agency that any or all of the information designated should not be released without the parent's or guardian's prior consent or the student's himself if he is eighteen (18) years of age or older.

51-24A.17 - Violations and Penalties

A. Any public official who willfully violates any provision of the Oklahoma Open Records Act, upon conviction, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be punished by a fine not exceeding Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not exceeding one (1) year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

B. Any person denied access to a record of a public body or public official may bring a civil suit for declarative and/or injunctive relief and, if successful, shall be entitled to reasonable attorney fees. If the public body or public official successfully defends a civil suit and the court finds that the suit was clearly frivolous, the public body or public official shall be entitled to reasonable attorney fees.

C. A public body or public official shall not be civilly liable for damages for providing access to records as allowed under the Oklahoma Open Records Act.

51-24A.18 - No Additional Record Keeping Requirements Imposed

Except as may be required in Section 4 of this act, this act does not impose any additional recordkeeping requirements on public bodies or public officials.

51-24A.19 - Records Related to Research or Intellectual Property

In addition to other records that a public body may keep confidential pursuant to the provisions of the Oklahoma Open Records Act, a public body may keep confidential:

1. Any information related to research, the disclosure of which could affect the conduct or outcome of the research, the ability to patent or copyright the research, or any other proprietary rights any entity may have in the research or the results of the research including, but not limited to, trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from an entity financing or cooperating in the research, research protocols, and research notes, data, results, or other writings about the research; and

2. The specific terms and conditions of any license or other commercialization agreement relating to state owned or controlled technology or the development, transfer, or commercialization of the technology. Any other information relating to state owned or controlled technology or the development, transfer, or commercialization of the technology which, if disclosed, will adversely affect or give other persons or entities an advantage over public bodies in negotiating terms and conditions for the development, transfer, or commercialization of the technology. However, institutions within The Oklahoma State System of Higher Education shall:

a. report to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education as requested, on forms provided by the Regents, research activities funded by external entities or the institutions, the results of which have generated new intellectual property, and

b. report to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education annually on forms provided:

(1) expenditures for research and development supported by the institution,

(2) any financial relationships between the institution and private business entities,

(3) any acquisition of an equity interest by the institution in a private business,

(4) the receipt of royalty or other income related to the sale of products, processes, or ideas by the institution or a private business entity with which the institution has established a financial arrangement,

(5) the gains or losses upon the sale or other disposition of equity interests in private business entities, and

(6) any other information regarding technology transfer required by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. The reports required in subparagraphs a and b of this paragraph shall not be deemed confidential and shall be subject to full disclosure pursuant to the Oklahoma Open Records Act.

51-24A.20 - Access Should Still be Granted Even In Cases of Investigation

Access to records which, under the Oklahoma Open Records Act, would otherwise be available for public inspection and copying, shall not be denied because a public body or public official is using or has taken possession of such records for investigatory purposes or has placed the records in a litigation or investigation file. However, a law enforcement agency may deny access to a copy of such a record in an investigative file if the record or a true and complete copy thereof is available for public inspection and copying at another public body.

51-24A.21 - Fees May Not be Charge to a Public Entity

The fees that may be charged by a public body pursuant to the provisions of paragraph 3 of Section 24A.5 of Title 51 of the Oklahoma Statutes shall not be charged when a state agency or taxing entity located within the boundaries of any district created pursuant to the provisions of the Local Development Act request a copy of the reports required by subsections A and B of Section 18 of this act.

51-24A.22 - (Applicable Only to Public Utilities - Not Included Here)

51-24A.23 - (Applicable Only to the Department of Wildlife Conservation - Not Included Here)

51-24A.24 - (Applicable Only to the Office of Juvenile System Oversight - Not Included Here)