POLICY ON COMPLIANCE WITH THE ALABAMA OPEN RECORDS ACT

ALA. CODE § 36-12-40 (1975)

Policy

Alabama’s Open Records Act, Ala. Code § 36-12-40 (1975), provides that the citizens of Alabama have the right to inspect and copy “public writings” of the State. As a state agency, it is the policy of the Board of Dental Examiners of Alabama to comply with the Open Records Act.

Procedure

All requests for public documents must be made in writing on a form prescribed by the Executive Director. The form shall require the requesting party to identify himself/herself, the reasons, or purposes for which the documents or information are sought, and a specific description of the documents or information sought. The Executive Director shall review the request and make all decisions relating to the documents or information that should or should not be disclosed in response to the request.

Only a bona fide citizen of the State of Alabama may make a request to examine records under the Act; requests received from non-citizens will be denied.

Respect for Individual Privacy

The Executive Director shall exercise sound professional judgment to disclose public information appropriately in accordance with the Act. The Executive Director will not disclose personal information which, if disclosed, would expose individuals to a material risk of identity theft, invasions of privacy, or other unlawful acts.

Examples of personal information that will generally be withheld or redacted include social security numbers; dates of birth; driver license numbers; home addresses; personal telephone numbers; personal e-mail addresses; information pertaining to minors; financial account numbers; and any other information as to which the Executive Director concludes the public informational value is outweighed by the individual privacy interests involved.

The Executive Director generally should apply redactions to protect personal information rather than withholding documents altogether unless redaction is not practical.

What is a Public Writing, and What Isn’t

Not all documents or records in the possession of the Board are subject to disclosure under the Open Records Act. For example, the Alabama Supreme Court has held that recorded information received by a public officer in confidence, sensitive personnel records, pending criminal investigations, and records the disclosure of which would be detrimental to the best interests of the public are some of the categories of information which generally may be withheld from public review. In addition, pre-decisional documents, and documents reflecting deliberation preceding a final decision or action are generally not covered by the Open Records Act.

It is not possible to provide an exhaustive listing of all of the documents that may nor may not be subject to disclosure in all circumstances. As a rule, however, matters pertaining to investigations conducted by the Board are clearly privileged and confidential and will not be provided in response to public records requests. A formal administrative complaint, after it is served on the licensee, is a public document. Likewise, final orders issued by the Board relating to licensee discipline are also public documents.

Payment of Costs

The requesting party will be required to pay the reasonable costs incurred by the Board in complying with the request. Standard 8-1/2” x 11” black and white photocopies shall be charged at a rate of $1.00 per page for the first 20 pages, and $0.25 per page for pages in excess of 20. Oversize, color, or other types of copies shall be charged at cost plus 20% handling fee. Requests for production of a spreadsheet shall be charged a flat rate of $20.00. Other expenses and/or services will be billed at the actual cost, plus a 20% handling fee. If compliance with the request will cause the Board to incur significant staff time for research, collection, and duplication of documents, the Board may also charge a reasonable amount for staff time. The Executive Director may require advance payment before incurring any time or costs when the cost is anticipated to exceed twenty dollars ($20.00). In all cases, the Executive Director will require the requesting party to make full payment before receiving any information responsive to the request.

BDEAL-Open Records Request Form-102022