University of Washington

The Washington Court of Appeals, Division One, concluded that emails of University of Washington professors relating to faculty union organizing were not “public records” under Washington’s Public Records Act, Chapter 42.56 RCW. Although the emails were sent to UW email addresses, the Court concluded that emails relating to faculty concerns and unionizing efforts were not created “within the scope of employment” and were therefore not “public records” under the Washington Supreme Court’s decision in Nissen v. Pierce County.

In Nissen, the court addressed text messages on an employee’s private cell phone, and determined that records on private cell phones were only “public records” if created within the scope of employment. The Court of Appeals’ new decision applies that test to records sent and received from a public employees’ official work email account, retained on a public agency’s server.

Continue Reading UW Professors’ Emails Regarding Union Organizing Not “Public Records” Subject to Disclosure

American cities possess a treasure trove of information about their residents, employees, and infrastructure. As state and local governments come under increasing pressure to project greater transparency, cities are beginning to open the doors to their data like never before. Recently, a team of multidisciplinary researchers affiliated with the University of Washington conducted one of the first sustained assessments of an open municipal data system. The researchers worked closely with the City of Seattle to understand its current procedures and to generate recommendations intended to help the city manage the risk inherent in opening up its data.

A link to the article, entitled "Push, Pull, and Spill: A Transdisciplinary Case Study in Municipal Open Government" can be found here