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What to Do if Your Department Receives a Request for Records

As a public institution, please note that UC Merced must disclose public records unless a specific exemption from disclosure applies. Any records requests that you receive must be responded to in a timely manner. California law requires that we provide a response within 10 days of receipt of a request to the institution. Any records that you hold (including emails and records held on personal devices) may be public records that could be released in a records request.

What is the definition of a public record?

A public record includes "any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public's business, prepared, owned, used or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics," under Government Code Section 6252(d).

A writing is defined as "handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostatting, photographing, and every other means of recording upon any form of communication or representation, including letters, words, pictures, sounds or symbols, or combination thereof, and all papers, maps, magnetic or paper tapes, photographic films and prints, magnetic or punched cards, discs, drums, and other documents," according to Government Code Section 6252(e).

What if my office receives a records request directly from a requester?

  • Note the date you received the request; and
  • Immediately forward the request to the Office of Legal Affairs with all attached materials.

What do I do if I receive notification of a records request from the PRA coordinator?

  • Review the campus notification received from the PRA coordinator.
  • Search for responsive documents. The PRA coordinator can assist you in determining whether documents are responsive.
  • Communicate when documents, if any, will be ready.
  • Let us know if records may exist in other offices.
  • Collect and send the documents to us as soon as possible. Let us know if you do not have any documents;
  • Please forward copies of all requested documents (except medical records), even if you think an exemption applies. It is helpful to us for you to flag documents where you feel exemptions apply; however, do not limit the documents that you provide to the PRA coordinator on this basis. We will work with you to determine if documents are eligible for exemption or redaction.
  • Mark sensitive information and proposed redactions so that the redacted material can still be reviewed by the PRA coordinator (e.g. use a light-colored highlighter pen or the highlighter tool in Adobe).
  • Please do not send originals. Provide unredacted copies of documents highlighted with your proposed redactions.