Public Records Policy and Request

Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 10-7-503(g), the following Public Records Policy for Tennessee Housing Development Agency (“THDA”) is hereby adopted to provide economical and efficient access to public records as provided under the Tennessee Public Records Act (“TPRA”) in Tenn. Code Ann. § 10-7-501, et seq.

The TPRA provides that all state, county and municipal records shall, at all times during business hours, be open for personal inspection by any citizen of this state, and those in charge of the records shall not refuse such right of inspection to any citizen, unless otherwise provided by state law. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 10-7-503(a)(2)(A). Accordingly, the public records of THDA are presumed to be open for inspection unless otherwise provided by law.

Personnel of THDA, through the THDA Public Records Request Coordinator identified in Section III, A.3 below, shall timely and efficiently provide access and assistance to persons requesting to view or receive copies of public records. No provisions of this Policy shall be used to hinder access to open public records. However, the integrity and organization of public records, as well as the efficient and safe operation of THDA, shall be protected as provided by current law. Concerns about this Policy should be addressed to the Public Records Request Coordinator for THDA or to the Tennessee Office of Open Records Counsel (“OORC”).

This Policy is posted online at www.thda.org. This Policy shall be applied consistently throughout THDA. This Policy shall be reviewed every two years.

I. Definitions:
  1. Records Custodian (“RC”): The office, official or employee lawfully responsible for the direct custody and care of a public record. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 10-7-503(a)(1)(C). The Records Custodian is not necessarily the original preparer or receiver of the record.
  2. Public Records: All documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, microfilms, electronic data processing files and output, films, sound recordings, or other material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any governmental agency. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 10-7-503(a)(1)(A).
  3. Public Records Request Coordinator (“PRRC”): The individual, or individuals, designated in Section III, A.3 of this Policy who has, or have, the responsibility to ensure public record requests are routed to the appropriate Records Custodian and are fulfilled in accordance with the TPRA. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 10-7-503(a)(1)(B). The PRRC may also be an RC.
  4. Requestor: A person seeking access to a public record, whether it is for inspection or duplication.
II. Requesting Access to Public Records
  1. Public record requests shall be made to the PRRC or his/her designee in order to ensure public record requests are routed to the appropriate RC and fulfilled in a timely manner.
  2. Requests for inspection may be made orally or in writing using the attached Public Records Request Form to the attention of the PRRC as identified in Section III, A.4 of this Policy. The PRRC should request a mailing or email address from the Requestor for providing any written communication required under the TPRA. The PRRC shall complete the form if a person is making an oral request, and shall request a phone number and mailing address or email address for providing written communication required under the TPRA.
  3. Requests for copies, or requests for inspection and copies, shall be made in writing using the attached Public Records Request Form, signed by the Requestor, to the attention of the PRRC as identified in Section III, A.4 of this Policy. THDA will accept completed forms submitted as an attachment via email.
  4. Proof of Tennessee citizenship by presentation of a valid Tennessee driver’s license (or alternative acceptable form of ID) is required as a condition to inspect or receive copies of public records.
  5. As provided in Tenn. Code Ann. § 10-7-503(a)(4), THDA shall not be required to sort through files to compile information or to create or recreate a record that does not exist to respond to a request.
III. Responding to Public Records Requests
  1. Public Record Request Coordinator
      • The PRRC shall review the Public Record Request Form and make an initial determination of the following:
        1. If the Requestor provided evidence of Tennessee citizenship;
        2. If the records requested are described with sufficient specificity to identify them; and
        3. If THDA is the custodian of the records.
      • The PRRC shall acknowledge receipt of the request and take any of the following appropriate action(s):
        1. Advise the Requestor of this Policy and the elections made regarding:
            • Proof of Tennessee citizenship;
            • Form(s) required for copies;
            • Fees (and labor threshold and waivers, if applicable).
        2. If appropriate, deny the request in writing, providing the appropriate ground such as one of the following:
            • The Requestor is not, or has not, presented evidence of being a Tennessee citizen.
            • The request lacks specificity.
            • An exemption makes the record not subject to disclosure under the TPRA.
            • THDA is not the custodian of the requested records.
            • The records do not exist.
        3. If the PRRC denies a public record request, he or she shall deny the request in writing as provided in Section III.A.2.b using the Public Records Request Response Form.
        4. If appropriate, the PRRC shall contact the Requestor to see if the request can be narrowed.
        5. If not practicable to promptly provide requested records because additional time is necessary to determine whether the requested records exist; to search for, retrieve, or otherwise gain access to records; to determine whether the records are open; to redact records; or for other similar reasons, then the PRRC shall, within seven (7) business days from the receipt of the request, send the Requestor a completed Public Records Request Response Form.
        6. If the PRRC reasonably determines production of records should be segmented because the records request is for a large volume of records, or additional time is necessary to prepare the records for access, the PRRC shall use the Public Records Request Response Form to notify the Requestor that production of the records will be in segments and that a records production schedule will be provided as expeditiously as practicable.
        7. If the PRRC subsequently discovers records responsive to a records request were omitted, the PRRC should contact the Requestor concerning the omission and produce the records as quickly as possible.
        8. If appropriate, direct the Requestor to the location on the THDA website at www.thda.org where relevant materials have already been made available to the public, rather than provide such materials as otherwise specified in this Policy.
        9. THDA is not required to compile information or create or recreate records that do not exist.
      • The PRRC shall also:
        1. Work with the RC to assure all records responsive to the request are gathered.
        2. Serve as liaison between the Requestor and RC, providing all responses to records requests, including providing copies, and working with THDA staff to provide access to records for inspection.
      • The THDA designated PRRC are:
          • Bruce Balcom or Charity Miles Williams
            Andrew Jackson Building, 3rd Floor
            502 Deaderick Street
            Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0200
            615-815-2200
            615-916-5054 (Fax)
            publicrecordsrequest@thda.org
  1. Records Custodian
      • Upon receiving a public records request, an RC shall promptly make the requested public records available to the PRRC to assure compliance with TPRA.
      • Each division within THDA shall designate an RC and shall provide that information to the PRRC.
      • Any THDA staff member who receives a request to inspect or a request for copies of THDA records shall promptly relay that request to their RC or to the PRRC.
  2. Redaction
      • If a record contains confidential information or information that is not open for public inspection, the PRRC shall prepare a redacted copy prior to providing access. If questions arise concerning redaction, the PRRC shall coordinate with counsel or other appropriate parties regarding review and redaction of records. The PRRC and the PRRC may also consult with the OORC or with the Office of the Attorney General and Reporter.
      • Whenever a redacted record is provided, the PRRC should provide the Requestor with the basis for redaction, if requested by the Requestor. The basis given for redaction shall be general in nature and not disclose confidential information, including without limitation, personally identifiable information.
IV. Inspection of Records
  1. There shall be no charge for inspection of open public records.
  2. The location for inspection of records within the offices of THDA shall be determined by the PRRC. The inspection of the public records shall be supervised by appropriate THDA staff.
  3. Under reasonable circumstances, the PRRC shall require an appointment for inspection made in advance or may require inspection of records at an alternate location.
V. Copies of Records
  1. The PRRC shall promptly respond to a public record request for copies in the most economic and efficient manner practicable. The RC and staff for each division shall assist the PRRC in copying the public records.
  2. Copies will be available for pickup at a location specified by the PRRC.
  3. Upon payment for postage, copies will be delivered to the Requestor’s home or business address by the United States Postal Service. Additional permitted means of delivery are UPS and FedEx, pre-paid label required.
  4. A Requestor is allowed to make copies of records with personal equipment.
VI. Fees and Charges and Procedures for Billing and Payment
  1. PRRC shall provide Requestors with an itemized estimate of the charges on the attached Public Records Cost Estimate Form prior to producing copies of records and shall require pre-payment of such charges before producing requested records.
  2. All time spent locating, retrieving, reviewing, redacting, and reproducing records shall be recorded by THDA staff and reported to the PRRC. The PRRC shall determine the appropriate labor charges based upon the base hourly salary of staff involved in providing the copies. Labor costs shall exclude the first hour spent fulfilling the request. Should the time required to fulfill the request exceed one hour, the hour excluded shall be the hour that represents the highest base salary. Charges for labor shall only be required when copies are requested. A Requestor may always request paper copies, however, THDA shall determine whether electronic copies are available and shall offer the Requestor that option, if available.
  3. Fees and charges for copies are as follows:
      • $0.15 per page for letter- and legal-size black and white copies.
      • $0.50 per page for letter- and legal-size color copies.
      • Labor when time exceeds one (1) hour.
      • If an outside vendor is used, the actual costs assessed by the vendor.
      • Any additional costs in excess of the charges identified in this Policy which are directly related to the copying of the public records.
  4. No duplication costs will be charged for requests for less than one hundred (100) pages of black and white copies.
  5. Payment shall be made in cash, by attorney check, by cashier’s check, or by money order payable to THDA and presented to the PRRC.
  6. Payment in advance is required before copies will be made.
  7. Aggregation of Frequent and Multiple Requests
      • THDA will aggregate record requests in accordance with the Frequent and Multiple Request Policy promulgated by the OORC when more than four (4) requests are received within a calendar month (either from a single individual or a group of individuals deemed working in concert).
      • If aggregating requests, the following shall apply:
        1. Records requests will be aggregated at the agency level.
        2. The PRRC shall determine whether more than four (4) requests are received within a calendar month from a single individual or a group of individuals deemed working in concert. The PRRC shall inform the individuals that they have been deemed to be working in concert and that they have the right to appeal the decision to the OORC.
        3. Routinely released and readily accessible records excluded from aggregation include, but are not limited to, records made available to the public on THDA’s website, at www.thda.org.
VII. Amendments and Adoption
  1. This Policy may be amended at any time at the discretion of the THDA Board of Directors. Should this Policy conflict with subsequent changes to the TPRA, this Policy shall be modified only to the extent required to comply with the TPRA, as amended.
  2. This Policy was considered by the Bond Finance Committee at its meeting on May 17, 2017, and approved by the Board at its meeting on May 23, 2017.