Certificates v Records of Processing

Certificates v Records of Processing

  1. OIP Opinion Letter 90-23, at http://hawaii.gov/oip/opinionletters/opinion%2090-23.pdf , continuously uses the term “vital record” and “certificate” interchangeably. Page 6 shows the original text which HRS 338-18 was based on, where “a certificate” substitutes for what is now “any such record”:


Chapter 338, Hawaii Revised Statutes, was enacted in 1949

and is modeled after the Uniform Vital Statistics Act (“Uniform Act”) drafted and adopted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1929.1 Section 23(3) of the Uniform Act stated:


The state registrar shall not permit inspection of

the records or issue a certified copy of a

certificate or part thereof unless he is satisfied

that the applicant therefor has a direct interest

in the matter recorded and that the information

therein contained is necessary for the determination

of personal or property rights. [Emphasis added.]



  1. Page 11 gives the 1977 wording of 338-18, which makes it clear that information regarding the processing of the data is not considered confidential, since the vital event file number (certificate number) itself is REQUIRED to be public – as it continued to be until at least 1990, according to OIP Letter 90-23:


(d) Index data consisting of name, age, and sex of

the registrant and date, type, and file number of the

vital event and such other data as the director may

authorize may be made available to the public.


HRS 338-18(d) no longer mandates that all this information be made public, but nowhere is it forbidden either; it is left to the discretion of the DOH director. The history of 338-18 suggests that the “direct and tangible interest” was intended to apply to certified copies of certificates, not to information concerning the processing of information.


  1. The processing of UIPA requests is considered public data in OIP Opinion Letter 90-37 (found at http://hawaii.gov/oip/opinionletters/opinion%2090-37.pdf ), although the OIP didn’t rule on whether UIPA requests for one’s own records are considered public.


  1. The purpose of UIPA is to provide accountability for government action – how the government executes or processes the jobs it is given. Records of government processing are precisely what is to be given scrutiny.



  1. Financial records are public except where they reveal private information. Test this out. Go to http://hawaii.gov/oip/rrs/search and search under “Record name” for “receipt”, selecting under “Department” a different department to search each time, including “All SOH Executive Agencies”. When it has completed the search it will give you various records that the department has, and if you click on a record’s identification number at the left, it will show you whether the record is public, conditional access, or confidential – as well as the legal reasoning for the classification.


Compare every other department’s legal reasoning and classifications with the Department of Health’s. The processing of records which results in a fee charged and a resulting receipt is, in most instances, considered public access as long as information with a significant privacy interest is redacted – such as checking account information, addresses, etc.

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Red Flags in Hawaii « Butterdezillion's Blog on January 11, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    […] 2.       The DOH has falsely said that HRS 338-18 prohibits disclosure of government processing records. There are 2 kinds of records – records of the vital events themselves, and records of the government’s handling of those records. […]

  2. By Red Flags in Hawaii « The Ghostfighters on February 1, 2010 at 2:18 am

    […] 2.       The DOH has falsely said that HRS 338-18 prohibits disclosure of government processing records. There are 2 kinds of records – records of the vital events themselves, and records of the government’s handling (  http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/hrscurrent/Vol06_Ch0321-0344/HRS0338/HRS_0338-0001.htm) of those records. […]

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