|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
November 7, 2000
Mr. Tracy A. Pounders
Dear Mr. Pounders:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Public Information Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 140964.
The City of Dallas (the "city") received a request for information relating to interviews conducted for the Security Officer, Senior 39 position. You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under sections 552.117 and 552.122 of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions you claim and reviewed the submitted representative sample of information.(1)
The submitted information contains information which may be excepted under section 552.117 of the Government Code. Section 552.117 excepts from disclosure the home addresses and telephone numbers, social security numbers, and family member information of current or former officials or employees of a governmental body who request that this information be kept confidential under section 552.024. Whether a particular piece of information is protected by section 552.117 must be determined at the time the request for it is made. See Open Records Decision No. 530 at 5 (1989). Therefore, the city may only withhold information under section 552.117 on behalf of current or former officials or employees who made a request for confidentiality under section 552.024 prior to the date on which the request for this information was made. See Open Records Decision No. 455 (1987) (finding that section 552.117 is not applicable to job applicants). For those employees who timely elected to keep their personal information confidential, the city must withhold the employees' home addresses and telephone numbers, social security numbers, and any information that reveals whether these employees have family members. The city may not withhold this information under section 552.117 for those employees who did not make a timely election under section 552.024 to keep the information confidential.
You also claim that section 552.122 excepts information in Exhibit C. 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 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 exception must be determined on a case-by-case basis. Open Records Decision No. 626 at 6 (1994).
You state that the "materials are re-used verbatim, or with only minor changes, on an on-going basis[.]" Having reviewed the submitted questions, we agree that interview questions four, five, and eleven, along with their corresponding answers, constitute "test items" as that term is contemplated by section 552.122(b). These items measure the "skill, knowledge, intelligence, capacities, or aptitudes of an individual or group" and are a "standard means by which an individual's or group's knowledge or ability in a particular area is evaluated." Open Records Decision No. 626 at 6 (1994). The remaining items are not "test items" as contemplated by section 552.122(b), and must be released because the material "does not involve an evaluation of an applicant's knowledge in a particular area." Id. at 8.
We also note that the submitted representative application in Exhibit B contains a line for a driver's license number. Section 552.130 provides in relevant part:
(a) Information is excepted from the requirement of Section 552.021 if the information relates to:
(1) a motor vehicle operator's or driver's license or permit issued by an agency of this state; [or]
(2) a motor vehicle title or registration issued by an agency of this state[.]
Therefore, you must withhold driver's license numbers under section 552.130.
In summary, the city may only withhold employees' home addresses and telephone numbers, social security numbers, and any information that reveals whether these employees have family members under section 552.117 on behalf of current or former officials or employees who made a request for confidentiality under section 552.024 prior to the date on which the request for this information was made. The city may withhold interview questions four, five, and eleven, along with their corresponding answers, under section 552.122(b). You must withhold driver's license numbers under section 552.130. You must release the remaining 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).
Please remember that under the Act the release of information triggers certain procedures for costs and charges to the requestor. If records are released in compliance with this ruling, be sure that all charges for the information are at or below the legal amounts. Questions or complaints about over-charging must be directed to the General Services Commission at 512/475-2497.
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.
Ref: ID# 140964
Encl: Submitted documents
cc: Mr. Kennan L. Parks
1. 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.
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