Scope of coverage of Public Records Act.
The act applies to an "agency." RCW 42.17.260
(1)/42.56.070(1). "'Agency' includes all state agencies and all local agencies. 'State agency' includes every state office, department, division, bureau, board, commission, or other state agency. 'Local agency' includes every county, city, town, municipal corporation, quasi-municipal corporation, or special purpose district, or any office, department, division, bureau, board, commission, or agency thereof, or other local public agency." RCW 42.17.020
Court files and judges' files are not subject to the act.1 Access to these records is governed by court rules and common law. The model rules, therefore, do not address access to court records.
An entity which is not an "agency" can still be subject to the act when it is the functional equivalent of an agency. Courts have applied a four-factor, case-by-case test. The factors are:
(1) Whether the entity performs a government function;
(2) The level of government funding;
(3) The extent of government involvement or regulation; and
(4) Whether the entity was created by the government. Op. Att'y Gen. 2 (2002).2
Some agencies, most notably counties, are a collection of separate quasi-autonomous departments which are governed by different elected officials (such as a county assessor and prosecuting attorney). However, the act defines the county as a whole as an "agency" subject to the act. RCW 42.17.020
(2). An agency should coordinate responses to records requests across departmental lines. RCW 42.17.253
(1) (agency's public records officer must "oversee the agency's compliance" with act).
1Nast v. Michels, 107 Wn.2d 300, 730 P.2d 54 (1986).
2See also Telford v. Thurston County Bd. of Comm'rs, 95 Wn. App. 149, 162, 974 P.2d 886, review denied, 138 Wn.2d 1015, 989 P.2d 1143 (1999); Op. Att'y Gen. 5 (1991).
[Statutory Authority: 2005 c 483 § 4, RCW 42.17.348
. WSR 06-04-079, § 44-14-01001, filed 1/31/06, effective 3/3/06.]