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August 16, 1999

Mr. John Steiner
Division Chief
City of Austin
P.O. Box 1546
Austin, Texas 78767-1546

OR99-2351

Dear Mr. Steiner:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 128324.

The Austin Police Department (the "department") received a request for three items of information. You assert that you only have information which is responsive to one of the items, which requests information regarding the "Street Response Team." You claim that the information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.111 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted information.

Section 552.111 excepts from disclosure "an interagency or intraagency memorandum or letter that would not be available by law to a party in litigation with the agency." In Open Records Decision No. 615 (1993), this office reexamined the predecessor to the section 552.111 exception in light of the decision in Texas Dep't of Pub. Safety v. Gilbreath, 842 S.W.2d 408 (Tex. App.--Austin 1992, no writ), and held that section 552.111 excepts only those internal communications consisting of advice, recommendations, opinions, and other material reflecting the policymaking processes of the governmental body. An agency's policymaking functions do not encompass internal administrative or personnel matters; disclosure of information relating to such matters will not inhibit free discussion among agency personnel as to policy issues. ORD 615 at 5-6.

You claim that the standard operating procedure for Street Response Units is a draft procedure. Although a governmental body may not close documents merely by stamping "draft" on them, where a document is a genuine preliminary draft that has been released or is intended for release in final form, the draft necessarily represents the advice, opinion, and recommendation of the draftee. Open Records Decision No. 559 (1990). Section 552.111 does not generally except from disclosure purely factual information that is severable from the opinion portions of internal memoranda. ORD 615 at 4-5. However, when such factual matter is contained in the final version of the document, the release of the final version satisfies this requirement. Id.

You explain that the department intends to release the procedure as a public document when completed. However, the department has not made a final decision on whether to proceed to adopt the recommended procedure. Accordingly, as the entire draft of the procedure is still subject to deliberation and possible revision, you may withhold the requested information in its entirety under section 552.111 of the Government Code.

We are resolving this matter with an informal letter ruling rather than with a published open records decision. This ruling is limited to the particular records at issue under the facts presented to us in this request and should not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records. If you have questions about this ruling, please contact our office.

Sincerely,

Sue M. Lee
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

SML\nc

Ref: ID# 128324

encl: Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Malcolm Greenstein
Greenstein & Kolker
1006 East Cesar Chavez Street
Austin, Texas78702
(w/o enclosures)


 

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