Public Records Disclosure
Washington law (Public Records Act, chapter 42.56 RCW) requires that identifiable public records be made available promptly to members of the public for inspection and copying upon request. The Public Records Act is a strong mandate for public disclosure, and its exemptions should be narrowly construed. Only records that are exempt by law may be withheld from disclosure. Allowable exemptions are detailed in the Public Records Act and in other statutes.
Some of the exemptions listed in chapter 42.56 RCW that may apply to requests for disclosure of Military Department records include, but are not limited to:
- Personal information in files maintained for employees and appointees of public agencies to the extent disclosure would violate their right to privacy (i.e., disclosure would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, and is not of legitimate concern to the public). RCW 42.56.230(3).
- Employment test questions and scoring keys, public employment applications and resumes, employee residential and emergency contact information, and social security numbers. RCW 42.56.250.
- Certain real estate appraisals. RCW 42.56.260.
- Valuable formulae, designs, drawings, computer source code or object code, and research data obtained by the agency within five years of the request for disclosure when disclosure would produce private gain and public loss. RCW 42.56.270(1).
- Preliminary drafts, notes, recommendations, and intra-agency memorandums in which opinions are expressed or policies formulated or recommended. RCW 42.56.280.
- Records relevant to a controversy to which the agency is a party but which would not be available to another party under the rules of pretrial discovery, such as attorney work product records. RCW 42.56.290.
- Certain information assembled, prepared, or maintained to prevent, mitigate, or respond to criminal terrorist acts, the public disclosure of which would have a substantial likelihood of threatening public safety, consisting of (a) specific and unique vulnerability assessments, response or deployment plans, including compiled underlying data, and (b) records not subject to public disclosure under federal law that are shared by federal or international agencies, and information prepared from certain national security briefings. RCW 42.56.420(1).
- Certain information regarding the infrastructure and security of computer and telecommunications networks. RCW 42.56.420(4).
RCW 42.56.070(1) recognizes that public records may also be exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Act pursuant to an “other statute which exempts or prohibits the disclosure of specific information or records”. Some of those “other statute[s]” which may apply to exempt or prohibit disclosure of Military Department records include, but are not limited to:
- The attorney-client privilege statute, which exempts records reflecting communications transmitted in confidence between agency staff and the agency’s Assistant Attorney(s) General for the purpose of obtaining or rendering legal advice. RCW 5.60.060(2)(a).
- The Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Chapter 19.108 RCW.
- The Uniform Health Care Information Act. Chapter 70.02 RCW.
- Protected critical infrastructure information under the federal Critical Infrastructure Information Act of 2002 (part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, Pub.L. 107-296), 6 CFR Part 29. \
To make a request for public records:
To request records under the Public Records Act, provide a detailed description of the requested records (subject, dates, location, etc., if possible) and your contact information (email address, physical address, phone number) to the Public Records Officer at:
Military Department Public Records Officer
Camp Murray, WA 98430
Phone: (253) 512-8110
FAX: (253) 512-8497
You may use the optional linked Public Records Request Form (PDF) to request records.
Copy fees may be charged according to WAC 323-10-070.
Please see the linked Contact Us page for contact information to direct the following types of requests:
- Requests for Washington National Guard service records under the Privacy Act.
- US Department of Veterans Affairs service verification and record requests.
- Employment verification requests.
- Requests under the US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
If you have questions about public records disclosure:
. . . contact the (phone 253-512-8110 or FAX 253-512-8497).