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December 9, 1999

Ms. Janice Marie Wilson
Associate General Counsel
Texas Department of Transportation
125 E. 11th Street
Austin, Texas 78701-2483

OR99-3562

Dear Ms. Wilson:

You have asked whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Public Information Act (the "act"), chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 130583.

The Texas Department of Transportation (the "department") received a request for "a copy of the contract(s) between the State and the general contractor for this job." In response to the request, you submit to this office for review a copy of the information at issue. You assert that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.103 of the Government Code.(1) We have considered the exception and arguments you raise, and have reviewed the information submitted.

At the outset we note that the requested "contracts between the State and the general contractor" constitute "information in an account, voucher, or contract relating to the receipt . . . of public or other funds by a governmental body." Gov't Code 552.022(a)(3). Information enumerated under section 552.022 of the Government Code is public information and "not excepted from required disclosure under [chapter 552 of the Public Information Act] unless [it is] expressly confidential under other law." Gov't Code 552.022(a). You raise section 552.103 of the Government Code. Section 552.103 is an exception under the Public Information Act and is not other law that makes the requested information confidential. Accordingly, pursuant to section 552.022(a)(3), the requested information is public, and the department must release the requested information.

This letter ruling is limited to the particular records at issue in this request and limited to the facts as presented to us; therefore, this ruling must not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records or any other circumstances.

This ruling triggers important deadlines regarding the rights and responsibilities of the governmental body and of the requestor. For example, governmental bodies are prohibited from asking the attorney general to reconsider this ruling. Gov't Code 552.301(f). If the governmental body wants to challenge this ruling, the governmental body must appeal by filing suit in Travis County within 30 calendar days. Id. 552.324(b). In order to get the full benefit of such an appeal, the governmental body must file suit within 10 calendar days. Id. 552.353(b)(3), (c). If the governmental body does not appeal this ruling and the governmental body does not comply with it, then both the requestor and the attorney general have the right to file suit against the governmental body to enforce this ruling. Id. 552.321(a).

If this ruling requires the governmental body to release all or part of the requested information, the governmental body is responsible for taking the next step. Based on the statute, the attorney general expects that, within 10 calendar days of this ruling, the governmental body will do one of the following three things: 1) release the public records; 2) notify the requestor of the exact day, time, and place that copies of the records will be provided or that the records can be inspected; or 3) notify the requestor of the governmental body's intent to challenge this letter ruling in court. If the governmental body fails to do one of these three things within 10 calendar days of this ruling, then the requestor should report that failure to the attorney general's Open Government Hotline, toll free, at 877/673-6839. The requestor may also file a complaint with the district or county attorney. Id. 552.3215(e).

If this ruling requires or permits the governmental body to withhold all or some of the requested information, the requestor can appeal that decision by suing the governmental body. Id. 552.321(a); Texas Department of Public Safety v. Gilbreath, 842 S.W.2d 408, 411 (Tex. App.-Austin 1992, no writ).

If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. Although there is no statutory deadline for contacting us, the attorney general prefers to receive any comments within 10 calendar days of the date of this ruling.

Sincerely,

Sam Haddad
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

SH/nc

Ref.: ID# 130583

Encl: Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Joe Young
Patton, Nix & Young, L.L.P.
Attorneys at Law
405 East Magrill Street
Longview, Texas 75601
(w/o enclosures)


 

Footnotes

1. Under Open Records Decision No. 638 (1996), a governmental body may establish that litigation is reasonably anticipated by showing that (1) it has received a claim letter from an allegedly injured party or his attorney, and (2) the governmental body states that the letter complies with the notice of claim provisions of the Texas Tort Claims Act ("TTCA") or applicable municipal statute or ordinance.
 

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