|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
January 27, 2000
Mr. Leonard W. Peck, Jr.
Dear Mr. Peck:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 131792.
The Department of Criminal Justice (the "department") received a request for information related to the selection of the successful candidate for the position of Parole Officer IV. The requestor seeks copies of the questions asked him and the successful candidate; the answers given to those questions; the preferred answers to those questions; other information used to make the selection decision; the procedure used to obtain clearance for the questions; and the identity of the individual who approved the questions. You claim that the subject questions and answers are excepted from disclosure under section 552.122 of the Government Code. As you have asserted no exception for the balance of the information responsive to this request, we assume that it has been released. We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted information.
Section 552.122(b) of the Government Code excepts from disclosure a test item developed by a licensing agency or governmental body. "Test item" includes "any standard means by which an individual's or group's knowledge or ability in a particular area is evaluated." Open Records Decision No. 626 at 6 (1994). An evaluation does not necessarily constitute a test, however, simply because it is labeled as a test, because it is comprised of questions and answers, or because it involves some sort of scoring system. Id. We agree that the submitted items involve an evaluation of applicants' knowledge in a particular area. These items are thus "test items" excepted from disclosure by section 552.122(b). You may withhold the information pursuant to section 552.122(b) of the Government Code.
This letter ruling is limited to the particular records at issue in this request and limited to the facts as presented to us; therefore, this ruling must not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records or any other circumstances.
This ruling triggers important deadlines regarding the rights and responsibilities of the governmental body and of the requestor. For example, governmental bodies are prohibited from asking the attorney general to reconsider this ruling. Gov't Code § 552.301(f). If the governmental body wants to challenge this ruling, the governmental body must appeal by filing suit in Travis County within 30 calendar days. Id. § 552.324(b). In order to get the full benefit of such an appeal, the governmental body must file suit within 10 calendar days. Id. § 552.353(b)(3), (c). If the governmental body does not appeal this ruling and the governmental body does not comply with it, then both the requestor and the attorney general have the right to file suit against the governmental body to enforce this ruling. Id. § 552.321(a).
If this ruling requires the governmental body to release all or part of the requested information, the governmental body is responsible for taking the next step. Based on the statute, the attorney general expects that, within 10 calendar days of this ruling, the governmental body will do one of the following three things: 1) release the public records; 2) notify the requestor of the exact day, time, and place that copies of the records will be provided or that the records can be inspected; or 3) notify the requestor of the governmental body's intent to challenge this letter ruling in court. If the governmental body fails to do one of these three things within 10 calendar days of this ruling, then the requestor should report that failure to the attorney general's Open Government Hotline, toll free, at 877/673-6839. The requestor may also file a complaint with the district or county attorney. Id. § 552.3215(e).
If this ruling requires or permits the governmental body to withhold all or some of the requested information, the requestor can appeal that decision by suing the governmental body. Id. § 552.321(a); Texas Department of Public Safety v. Gilbreath, 842 S.W.2d 408, 411 (Tex. App.-Austin 1992, no writ).
If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. Although there is no statutory deadline for contacting us, the attorney general prefers to receive any comments within 10 calendar days of the date of this ruling.
Michael Jay Burns
Ref: ID# 131792
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Ms. Edna Gail Marchetti
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US