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PDFWAC 44-14-04005

Inspection of records.

(1) Obligation of requestor to claim or review records. After the agency notifies the requestor that the records or an installment of them is ready for inspection or copying, the requestor must claim or review the records or the installment. RCW 42.56.120. If the requestor cannot claim or review the records him or herself, a representative may do so within the thirty-day period.1 Other arrangements can be mutually agreed to between the requestor and the agency.
If a requestor fails to claim or review the records or an installment after the expiration of thirty days, an agency is authorized to stop assembling the remainder of the records or making copies. RCW 42.56.120. If the request is abandoned, the agency is no longer bound by the records retention requirements of the act prohibiting the scheduled destruction of a requested record. RCW 42.56.100.
If a requestor fails to claim or review the records or any installment of them within the thirty-day notification period, the agency may close the request and refile the records. Thirty days has been considered a reasonable time frame within which to claim or review records, but an agency may establish procedures that allow for a longer period. If a requestor who has failed to claim or review the records then requests the same or almost identical records again, the agency, which has the flexibility to prioritize its responses to be most efficient to all requestors, can process the repeat request for the now-refiled records as a new request after other pending requests.
(2) Time, place, and conditions for inspection. Inspection should occur at a time mutually agreed (within reason) by the agency and requestor. An agency should not limit the time for inspection to times in which the requestor is unavailable. Requestors cannot dictate unusual times for inspection. The agency is only required to allow inspection during the agency's customary office hours. RCW 42.56.090. Often an agency will provide the records in a conference room or other office area.
The inspection of records cannot create "excessive interference" with the other "essential functions" of the agency. RCW 42.56.100. Similarly, copying records at agency facilities cannot "unreasonably disrupt" the operations of the agency. RCW 42.56.080.
An agency may have an agency employee observe the inspection or copying of records by the requestor to ensure they are not altered, destroyed, disorganized, or removed. RCW 42.56.100. A requestor cannot alter, mark on, or destroy an original record during inspection. To select a paper record for copying during an inspection, a requestor must use a nonpermanent method such as a removable adhesive note or paper clip.
Inspection times can be broken down into reasonable segments such as half days. However, inspection times cannot be broken down into unreasonable segments to either harass the agency or delay access to the timely inspection of records.
1See, e.g., WAC 296-06-120 (department of labor and industries provides thirty days to claim or review records).
[Statutory Authority: RCW 42.56.570. WSR 18-06-051, § 44-14-04005, filed 3/2/18, effective 4/2/18. Statutory Authority: 2005 c 483 § 4, RCW 42.17.348. WSR 06-04-079, § 44-14-04005, filed 1/31/06, effective 3/3/06.]
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