SECTION INDEX:    Public Disclosure Policy

1    Purpose

1.1    Public Records Act

1.2    City Policy and Procedure

2    Reference

3    Policy

4    Responsibility / Authority

4.1    Public Records Officer

4.2    City Staff

4.3    Requesters

5    Definitions

6    Guidelines

6.1    Liability

6.2    Municipal Services and Central Office

6.3    Availability of Public Records

6.4    Making a Request for Public Records

6.5    Processing Public Records Requests

6.6    Inspection of Records

6.7    Providing Copies of Records

6.8    Providing Records in Installments

6.9    Completion of Response to Inspect Records

6.10    Closing Withdrawn or Abandoned Requests

6.11    Later Discovered Documents

6.12    Completion of Request

6.13    No Duty to Create New Records

6.14    Processing of Public Records Requests - Electronic Records

6.15    Exemptions

6.16    Costs of Providing Copies of Public Records

6.17    Review of Denials of Public Records

7    Appendix

7.1    List of Exemptions

7.2    Organizational Chart


1.1. Public Records Act

The purpose of the Public Records Act is to provide the public with full access to information concerning the conduct of government, mindful of individuals’ privacy rights and the desirability of efficient administration of government. The Public Records Act provides a statutory framework by which to administer access to public records.

1.2. City Policy and Procedure

The purpose of establishing the following policy and procedure is to provide a method by which City staff will review and respond to requests for public records within the Public Records Act framework. The information contained in this document is designed to aid both those requesting public records and those responding to records requests. The policy and procedure should assist in guiding expectations of requesters and providing notice of a mechanism by which to appeal a records decision, if necessary.


•    RCW 42.56, Public Records Act

•    Chapter 44-14 WAC Public Records Act -Model Rules


The City shall provide for inspection and copying of requested public records as provided in this policy and procedure, unless such records are exempt from disclosure under RCW 42.56 or other law under which disclosure is regulated. City staff shall provide assistance to requesters in obtaining the public records they seek.


4.1. Public Records Officer

The Administrative Services Director is the designated Public Records Officer. The City’s public records officer will oversee compliance with the Public Records Act and these procedures. The City’s public records officer may delegate the responsibilities of processing requests to other staff. Departments may also designate records coordinators within specific departments to facilitate access to public records within that department, so long as each coordinator is identified to the public records officer.

4.2. City Staff

City staff will provide assistance to requesters, reasonably ensure that public records are protected from damage or disorganization, and prevent fulfilling public records requests from causing excessive interference with essential functions of the City of Olympia. Assigned City staff will be responsible and held accountable to meet the City’s responsibilities of this policy. Failure to do so will result in disciplinary actions.

4.3. Requesters

While requesters are not required to specifically name the Public Records Act, they must give reasonable notice that the request is being made pursuant to the act. Requesters must request identifiable records or classes of records that the City can reasonably locate even though they are not required to specifically state the exact record sought. For example, using inexact phrases such as “relating to” a topic (such as “all records relating to the property tax increase”) will need clarification from the requester to determine what records fairly and directly address the topic.


Active Record: An active record is used in an office on a routine basis and accessed at least several times per year. Active records are usually kept on-site.

Archival (Appraisal Required) Record: Public records with archival (appraisal required) designation are records which may possess enduring legal and/or historic value and must be appraised by Washington State Archives on an individual basis. Records not selected for retention by Washington State Archives may be disposed of after appraisal.

Archival (Permanent Retention) Record: Public records with archival (permanent retention) designation are records which possess enduring legal and/or historic value and must not be destroyed. These records need to either be transferred to Washington State Archives or retained and preserved according to archival best practices until such time as they are transferred to Washington State Archives.

Essential Record: Essential records are those the City must have in order to maintain or resume business continuity following a disaster. While the retention requirements for essential records may range from very short-term to archival, these records are necessary to resume core functions following a disaster. Security backup of these public records should be created and may be deposited with Washington State Archives.

Inactive Record: An inactive record is used or accessed in an office infrequently or no longer used in the conduct of current business, but is still required to be kept by the retention schedule for legal or historical purposes. Inactive records are usually stored off-site.

Public Record: RCW 40.14.010 defines public record as ...The term public records shall include any paper, correspondence, completed form, bound record book, photograph, film, sound recording, map drawing, machine-readable material, compact disc meeting current industry ISO specifications, or other document, regardless of physical form or characteristics, and including such copies thereof, that have been made by or received by any agency of the state of Washington in connection with the transaction of public business...”

RCW 42.56.010(3) defines a public record as “...any writing containing information relating to the conduct of government or the performance of any governmental or proprietary function prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics...”

If there is a conflict in the two definitions the City, subject to legal review, will apply the broadest definition.

Records Disposition: Disposition is the action taken with records when they are no longer required to be retained by the agency. Possible disposition actions include transfer to archives and destruction.

Retention Schedule: The retention schedule consists of tables setting out requirements adopted by the Washington State Local Records Committee which specifies the length of time each record series will be retained by the agency, whether the record is designated essential, archival, or potentially archival, and final disposition of the record.

Writing: RCW 42.56.010(4) states: Writing means handwriting, typewriting, printing, photo stating, photographing, and every other means of recording any form of communication or representation including, but not limited to, letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols, or combination thereof, and all papers, maps, magnetic or paper tapes, photographic films and prints, motion picture, film and video recordings, magnetic or punched cards, discs, drums, diskettes, sound recordings, and other documents including existing data compilations from which information may be obtained or translated.”


6.1. Liability

Neither the City nor any officer, employee, official, or custodian shall be liable, nor shall a cause of action exist, for any loss or damage based upon a release of public records if the person releasing the records acted in good faith in attempting to comply with this policy. This policy is not intended to expand or restrict the rights of disclosure or privacy as they exist under state and federal law. Despite the use of any mandatory terms such as “shall,” nothing in this policy is intended to impose mandatory duties on the City beyond those imposed by state and federal law.

6.2. Municipal Services and Central Office

The City of Olympia is a Washington municipal corporation that provides a full range of traditional municipal services to its citizens through various departments. City Hall, the central office, is located at 601 4th Ave E., Olympia WA 98501 and several field offices exist throughout the City. A City organizational chart can be found in Section 7.2.

Any person wishing to request access to public records from a single department may make the request to that individual department’s records coordinator or may make a request to the public records officer. Any person seeking assistance in making a request or making a request which includes more than one department should contact the public records officer:

Public Records Officer

City of Olympia

PO Box 1967

Olympia, WA 98507

Phone: 360-753-8325

Fax: 360-753-8165


Requests to the following individual departments should be addressed to the records coordinator at the locations listed below:


Physical Address



Administrative Services

601 4th Ave E

Olympia, WA 98501



Community Planning and Development

601 4th Ave E

Olympia, WA 98501




100 Eastside St NE

Olympia, WA 98507



Executive Services

601 4th Ave E

Olympia, WA 98501



Legal Services-City Attorney

601 4th Ave E

Olympia, WA 98501



Parks, Arts, and Recreation

222 Columbia St NW

Olympia, WA 98501




601 4th Ave E

Olympia, WA 98501



Public Works

601 4th Ave E

Olympia, WA 98501



Information is also available on the City of Olympia web site at:


6.3. Availability of Public Records

a.    Index. The City of Olympia determined by executive order #11164, signed by the City Manager on January 15, 2005, that maintaining an index is unduly burdensome, costly, and would interfere with agency operations due to the number and complexity of records generated as a result of the wide range of City activities and office locations.

b.    City Website. Many records are available on the City’s web site at www.olympiawa.gov. Requesters are encouraged to view the documents available on the web site prior to submitting a records request.

c.    Protocol for Inspection/Copying. Public records are generally available for inspection and copying during normal business hours of Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., excluding legal holidays. Records must be inspected at an office of the City of Olympia. Requesters are prohibited from removing records from City offices.

d.    Maintenance/Order of Records. The City will maintain its records in a reasonably organized manner. The City will take reasonable actions to protect records from damage and disorganization.

6.4. Making a Request For Public Records

a.    Any person wishing to inspect or copy public records of the City should enter the request using the City’s online request system at: http://www.mygovhelp.us/olympiawa/_cs/supporthome.aspx

Requests may also be submitted in writing on the City’s request form in person, by regular mail, or fax to the designated records officer or coordinator set forth in section 6.2. Email requests must be sent to cityclerk@ci.olympia.wa.us and must include the following information:

1.    Name of requester;

2.    date of request;

3.    phone, email, and/or address or other contact information of requester;

4.    identification of the public records adequate for the public records officer or designee to locate the records (title and date, if known);

5.    location (department) of the requested records, if known;

6.    whether the requester intends to inspect the records or obtain a photocopy of the records, at the cost set forth in Section 6.16 of these policies; and

7.    method by which the City should contact requester.

b.    City staff will request that a Public Records Request Form be completed or that the request be submitted using the City’s online request system at:


The Public Records Request Form is available at:


However, if the request is by telephone or the requester is in need of assistance, responding staff will confirm receipt of the information and the substance of the request in writing by entering the request information into the City’s online tracking system on the requester’s behalf.

c.    If the record(s) requested is not easily identified, may be kept by multiple departments, or the requester is unsure of where to file the request, the requester should direct the request to the Administrative Services Department or the Public Records Officer at cityclerk@ci.olympia.wa.us

d.    Affected staff will be advised by records coordinators to retain possession of records covered by public records requests, including any records that may be scheduled for destruction. City staff may not destroy or otherwise delete responsive records until the request is fulfilled.

e.    A requester is not typically required to state the purpose of the request. However, in instances where additional information is required by law or in an effort to clarify or prioritize a request and provide responsive records, the public records officer or designee may inquire about the nature or scope of the request.

6.5. Processing Public Records Requests

a.    The public records officer or designee will process requests in the order allowing the most requests to be processed in the most efficient manner.

b.    Within five business days of receipt of the request (day one is the first working day after the request is received), the public records officer or designee will do one or more of the following:

1.    Make the records available for inspection or copying; or

2.    identify an internet location where the record can be accessed. Requesters who cannot access the internet may be provided hard copies or access to a City terminal to access the record; or

3.    acknowledge receipt of request, provide a reasonable estimate of when records will be available and, if the request is unclear, also request clarification; or

4.    deny the request.

c.    If the City of Olympia does not respond in writing within five business days of receipt of the request for disclosure, the requester should consider contacting the public records officer to determine the reason for the failure to respond.

d.    In the event that the requested records contain information that may affect rights of others and/or may be exempt from disclosure, the public records officer may, prior to providing the records, give notice to those persons. Such notice should be given to make it possible for those receiving the notice to seek an order from a court to prevent or limit the disclosure. The notice to the affected persons will typically include a copy of the request.

e.    Some records are exempt from disclosure, in whole or in part. If the City of Olympia believes that a record or portion of a record is exempt from disclosure and should be withheld, the public records officer or designee will state the specific exemption and provide a brief explanation of why the record or a portion of the record is being withheld.


a.    The City of Olympia will provide a space for persons to inspect public records. No member of the public may remove a document from the viewing area or disassemble or alter any document. The requester shall indicate which documents should be copied by the agency.

b.    Parties wishing to inspect electronic records may be provided copies of the records on a CD or other storage device, may be directed to an internet address where the records can be accessed, or may receive records by email. If a requester cannot access records in these ways, the City may provide hard copies or allow a requester to view copies on an agency computer.

c.    The requester must make arrangements to claim or review the assembled records within thirty days of notification that the records are available for inspection or copying.

d.    If the requester fails to claim or review the records within the thirty-day period or make other arrangements, the City may close the request and re-file the assembled records. In the event the requester submits a new request for the same or almost identical records, the process will begin anew.


After inspection is complete, the public records officer or designee shall make the requested copies or arrange for copying. The requester shall pay any applicable deposit prior to copies being made. Full payment for copies must be received prior to delivery of the requested copies.


a.    When the request is for a large number of records or when a portion of responsive records is more readily available than others, the public records officer or designee may provide access for inspection and copying in installments if the employee reasonably determines that would be practical.

b.    If, within thirty days, the requester fails to inspect the available installments, the public records officer may discontinue the search for the remaining records and close the request.


When the search for requested records is complete and all requested records are provided for inspection, the public records officer or designee will indicate that the City has completed a reasonable search for the requested records and made any located, nonexempt records available for inspection.


When the requester either withdraws the request, fails to timely clarify a request, fails to fulfill the obligation to timely inspect the records, or fails to pay the required amount due for requested copies, the public records officer will close the request and indicate to the requester that the City has closed the request.


If, after the City has informed the requester that it has provided responsive records, the City becomes aware of additional responsive documents existing at the time of the request, and it will promptly inform the requester of the additional documents and provide them as soon as possible. However, a public records request is not continuing in nature. If a requester desires additional records created or obtained by the City after the date of the original request, the requester must submit a new request.


The City’s response to a request shall be deemed complete upon the requester’s inspection of the records, or upon notification that copies of all the requested records are available for payment and delivery or pick up, or upon notification that records have been mailed or emailed, or upon notification that no responsive records were located.


The City is not obligated to create new records to satisfy a records request; however, the City may, at its discretion, create such new records to fulfill the request where the City deems that method of response more expedient.


a.    The process for requesting electronic records is the same as for requesting public records in hard copy.

b.    When a requester seeks records in an electronic format, the public records officer will provide the nonexempt records or portions of such records that are reasonably locatable in an electronic format that is used by the agency and is generally commercially available, or in a format that is reasonably translatable from the format in which the agency keeps the record.

c.    With the consent of the requester, the City may provide customized access if the record is not reasonably translatable into the format requested. The City may charge a fee consistent with RCW 43.41A, which states in part, “. . . Fees for staff time to respond to requests and other direct costs may be included in costs of providing customized access...”

d.    Electronic mail (e-mail) is an informational transfer system which uses computers for sending and receiving messages. Email messages are public records when they are prepared, owned, used, or retained by the City and relate to the conduct of government or performance of any governmental or proprietary function.


a.    The Public Records Act provides that a number of types of documents are exempt from public inspection and copying. In addition, documents are exempt from disclosure if any “other statute” exempts or prohibits disclosure. Requesters should take note that there are many exemptions contained outside of the Public Records Act that may restrict the availability for inspection or release of some documents. Many such exemptions are listed in Section 7.1 of this policy. This list is for informational purposes only and failure to list an exemption shall not affect the efficacy of any exemption.

b.    The City is prohibited by statute from disclosing lists of individuals requested for commercial purposes.


a.    The City of Olympia determined by executive order #2, signed by the City Manager on August 21, 2017, that performing a study to calculate the actual costs of providing records is unduly burdensome and the City will, therefore, charge fees to copy and provide public records not to exceed those permitted by RCW 42.56.120.

b.    There is no fee for inspecting public records, however, the City does charge the following fees for copying and sending records to the requestor.

c.    Copying is charged at fifteen cents ($.15) per page, for paper copies, and ten cents ($.10) per page, for scanned copies. If the amount of copies requested is 20 pages or less, the City will waive this fee. For example, a request for twenty-one pages of paper copies will cost $3.15.

d.    Envelopes and/or packaging are charged at the actual costs of those supplies.

e.    Postage is charged at the actual postage costs of such postage.

f.    Digital Storage media/devices are charged at the actual cost of materials (such as a CD, DVD, flash drive, etc.)

g.    Uploading/attaching electronic files to digital storage media/device(s), a cloud-based data storage service, or emails is charged at five cents ($.05) per each four files. If the number of files is 80 or less, the City will waive this fee. For example, a request for eighty-four files will cost $1.04.

h.    Transmission of public records in an electronic format is charged at ten cents per gigabyte.

i.    Customized service charges are charged at the actual cost if the City estimates that the request requires the use of information technology expertise to prepare data compilations, or provide customized electronic access services when such compilations and customized access services are not used by the city.

j.    In the event a request is estimated to exceed $25, the City may require the requester to deposit an amount not to exceed 10% of the estimated cost prior to the duplication of record(s).

k.    Payment may be made by cash, credit, check, or money order payable to the City of Olympia.


a.    Any person who objects to the initial denial or partial denial of a records request may petition in writing to the public records officer for a review of that decision. The petition must include a copy of or shall reasonably identify the written statement by the public records officer or designee denying the request.

b.    The public records officer or designee will immediately consider the petition and either affirm or reverse the denial within two business days following the public records officer’s receipt of the petition, or within such time as the City and the requester mutually agree RCW 42.56.520.


7.1. List of Exemptions



42.56.230 (1)

Personal information in files for students in public schools, patients or clients of public institutions or public health agencies, or welfare programs


Personal information for participants in programs serving children, adolescents, or students

42.56.230 (3)

Personal information in files on employees, appointees, or elected officials if disclosure would violate their right to privacy

42.56.230 (4)

Certain taxpayer information if it would violate taxpayers right of privacy

42.56.230 (5)

Credit card numbers, debit card numbers, electronic check numbers, and other financial information, except when disclosure is required by other law


Personal and financial information related to a small loan or any system of authorizing a small loan in RCW 31.45.093


Personal information required to apply for a driver’s license or identicard


Persons who decline to register for selective service under RCW 46.20.111

42.56.240 (1)

Specific intelligence and investigative information completed by investigative, law enforcement, and penology agencies, and state agencies that discipline members of professions, if essential to law enforcement or a person’s right to privacy

42.56.240 (2)

Identity of witnesses, victims of crime, or persons who file complaints, if they timely request nondisclosure and disclosure would endanger their life, personal safety, or property-does not apply to PDC complaints

42.56.240 (3)

Records of investigative reports prepared by any law enforcement agency pertaining to sex offenses or sexually violent offenses which have been transferred to WASPC

42.56.240 (4)

Information in applications for concealed pistol licenses

42.56.240 (5)

Identifying information regarding child victims of sexual assault


Statewide gang database in RCW 43.43.762


Data from electronic sales tracking system in RCW 69.43.165


Information submitted to the statewide unified sex offender notification and registration program under RCW 36.28A.040(b)


Personally identifying information collected by law enforcement agencies pursuant to local security alarm system programs and vacation crime watch programs

42.56.250 (1)

Test questions, scoring keys, and other exam information used on licenses, employment or academics

42.56.250 (2)

Applications for public employment, including names, resumes

42.56.250 (3)

Address, phone nos., email address, SSNs, etc. of public employees or volunteers held by public agencies

42.56.250 (4)

Information from employee relating to an unfair practice, if requested

42.56.250 (5)

Records of unfair practices investigations


Criminal history record checks for investment board finalist candidates

Employee salary and benefit information collected from private employers for salary survey information for marine employees


Real estate appraisals for agency acquisition or sale until project or sale abandoned, but no longer than 3 years in all cases

42.56.270 (1)

Valuable formulae, designs, drawings and research obtained by agency within 5 years of request for disclosure if disclosure would produce private gain and public loss

42.56.270 (2)

Financial information supplied by a bidder on ferry work or highway construction

42.56.270 (3)

Financial information and records filed by persons pertaining to export services

42.56.270 (4)

Financial information in economic development loan applications

42.56.270 (5)

Financial information obtained from business and industrial development corporations

42.56.270 (6)

Financial information on investment of retirement moneys and public trust investments

42.56.270 ((7)

Financial and trade information supplied by and under industrial insurance coverage

42.56.270 (8)

Financial information obtained by the Clean Washington Center for services related to marketing recycled products

42.56.270 (9)

Financial and commercial information requested by public stadium authority from leaser

42.56.270 (10)

Financial information supplied for application for a liquor, gambling, or lottery retail licenses

42.56.270 (11)

Proprietary data, trade secrets, or other information submitted by any vendor to DSHS for purposes of state purchased health care

42.56.270 (12) (a) (i)

Financial or proprietary information supplied to DCTED in furtherance of the state’s economic and community development efforts

42.56.270 (12) (a) (ii)

Financial or proprietary information provided to the DCTED regarding businesses proposing to locate in the state


Financial, commercial, operations, and technical and research information obtained by the life sciences discovery fund authority


Financial and commercial information submitted to or obtained by the University of Washington relating to investments in private funds


Financial, commercial, operations, and technical and research information submitted to or obtained by innovate Washington under chapter 43.333


Preliminary drafts, notes, recommendations, and intra-agency memos where opinions are expressed or policies formulated or recommended, unless cited by an agency


Agency records relevant to a controversy but which would not be available to another party under the rules of pretrial discovery for causes pending in the Superior courts


Information identifying the location of archaeological sites


Library records disclosing the identity of a library user

42.56.320 (1)

Financial disclosures filed by private vocational schools

42.56.320 (2)

Financial and commercial information relating to the purchase or sale of tuition units

42.56.320 (3)

Individually identifiable information received by the WFTECB for research or evaluation purposes

42.56.320 (4)

Information on gifts, grants, or bequests to institutions of higher education (1975)


The annual declaration of intent filed by parents for a child to receive home-based instruction


Individually identifiable information in state employee wellness program

42.56.330 (2)

Residential addresses and phone numbers in public utility records (1987)

42.56.330 (3)

Personal information in vanpool, carpool, ride-share programs (1997)

42.56.330 (4)

Personal information of current or former participants or applicants in transit services operated for those with disabilities or elderly persons

42.56.330 (5)

Personally identifying information of persons who use transit passes and other fare payment media


Records of any person belonging to a public utility district or municipally owned electrical utility

42.56.330 (6)

Information obtained by governmental agencies and collected by the use of a motor carrier intelligent transportation system or comparable information equipment

42.56.330 (7)

Personally identifying information of persons who use transponders and other technology to facilitate payment of tools


Personally identifying information of persons acquiring driver’s license or identicard with radio frequency chip


Membership lists and lists of owners of interests in timeshare projects, condominiums, land developments, or common-interest communities, regulated by the Department of Licensing

Revision history: February 2018; September 2017; February 2017; January 2015; March 2014; October 2013. Superseded: N/A.