|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
January 21, 2000
Mr. Leonard W. Peck, Jr.
Dear Mr. Peck:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID#131376.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice ("TDCJ") received a request for information relating to the interviews held on November 5, 1999 for the position of Human Resources Specialist III in Employee Classification. You state that you have released some of the responsive information to the requestor. You claim that the remaining information, i.e., interview questions, model answers, and actual answers given, is excepted from disclosure under section 552.122 of the Government Code. You have submitted a representative sample of the requested information you claim is excepted under section 552.122.(1) We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted information.
Section 552.122(b) excepts from disclosure test items developed by a licensing agency or governmental body. In Open Records Decision No. 626, this office determined that the term "test item" in section 552.122(b) includes any standard means by which an individual's or group's knowledge or ability in a particular area is evaluated, but does not encompass evaluations of an employee's overall job performance or suitability. Whether information falls within the section 552.122(b) exception must be determined on a case-by-case basis. Open Records Decision No. 626 (1994). Traditionally, this office has applied section 552.122(b) where release of "test items" might compromise the effectiveness of future examinations. Id. at 4-5; see also Open Records Decision No. 118 (1976).
After reviewing the submitted information, we conclude that questions 1-15 and 17 test an individual's or group's knowledge or ability in a particular area. Because the answers tend to reveal the questions, TDCJ may withhold questions 1-15 and 17 and the answers to these questions under section 552.122(b). We find that questions 16, 18, 19, and 20 are not "test items" as contemplated by section 552.122(b). Therefore, questions 16, 18, 19, and 20, and their corresponding answers, and the remaining information must be released.
We note that the submitted information contains the social security number of a TDCJ employee. Section 552.117(3) of the Government Code excepts from public disclosure information relating to the home address, home telephone number, and social security number of a TDCJ employee, as well as information revealing whether the employee has family members. Therefore, section 552.117(3) requires TDCJ to withhold the social security number of the TDCJ employee, which we have marked.
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 Dep't 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.
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Ms. Jeanne Jeffcoat
1. In reaching our conclusion here, we assume that the "representative sample" of records submitted to this office is truly representative of the requested records as a whole. See Open Records Decision Nos 499 (1988), 497 (1988). This open records letter does not reach, and therefore does not authorize the withholding of, any other requested records to the extent that those records contain substantially different types of information than that submitted to this office.
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US