Click for home page Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
John Cornyn
image
 

June 26, 2000

Ms. Linda S. Wiegman
Supervising Attorney
Office of General Counsel
Texas Department of Health
1100 West 49th Street
Austin, Texas 78756-3199

OR2000-2448

Dear Ms. Wiegman:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 136576.

The Texas Department of Health ("TDH") received a request for information related to the interview and selection process for a particular job posting. You claim that portions of the requested information which you have highlighted are excepted from disclosure under sections 552.117, 552.122 and 552.130 of the Government Code. You indicate that you will release the remaining information to the requestor. We have considered the exceptions you claim and have reviewed the submitted information.

You assert that certain test questions, preferred answers, and applicant's answers are excepted from disclosure under section 552.122 of the Government Code. Section 552.122(b) excepts from disclosure test items developed by a licensing agency or governmental body. In Open Records Decision No. 626 (1994), 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 at 6 (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 believe that the interview questions and answers, with the exception of question number 7c, are protected "test items." They "measure the skill, knowledge, intelligence, capacities, or aptitudes of an individual" and are a "standard means by which an individual's or group's knowledge or ability in a particular area is evaluated." See Attorney General Opinion JM-640 at 3 (1987); Open Records Decision No. 626 at 6-8 (1994) (when answers to test questions might reveal the questions themselves, the information may be withheld under section 552.122). You must release question number 7c and related information to the requestor.

You claim that the home address, home phone number, and social security number of a TDH employee are excepted from disclosure under section 552.117(1) of the Government Code. Section 552.117 of the Government Code excepts from disclosure the home addresses, telephone numbers, and social security numbers of current or former officials or employees of a governmental body who request that this information be kept confidential under section 552.024. TDH may not, however, withhold this information for a current or former official or employee who made a request for confidentiality under section 552.024 after the request for this information was made. Whether a particular piece of information is public must be determined at the time the request for it is made. Open Records Decision No. 530 at 5 (1989). You indicate that the submitted information concerns a TDH employee who has elected to have this information kept confidential. Based upon your averment, we conclude that TDH must withhold from disclosure the employee's home address, home phone number, and social security number.

You assert that the driver's license information contained in the submitted documents is excepted from disclosure under section 552.130 of the Government Code. Section 552.130 excepts information that relates to a motor vehicle operator's or driver's license or permit issued by an agency of this state or a motor vehicle title or registration issued by an agency of this state. We agree, therefore, that you must withhold from disclosure the driver's license information you have highlighted.

In summary, you may withhold from disclosure under section 552.122(b) of the Government Code the interview questions and related information you have highlighted, with the exception of question number 7c. Additionally, you must withhold the TDH employee's home address, home phone number, and social security number pursuant to section 552.117(1). Finally, pursuant to section 552.130, you must not release the employee's driver's license 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,

Carla Gay Dickson
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

CGD/ljp

Ref: ID# 136576

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Patrick Ray Dunn
5310 Joe Sayers Avenue, #204
Austin, Texas 78756
(w/o enclosures)


 

POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US
An Equal Employment Opportunity Employer


Home | ORLs