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December 6, 2002

Mr. Srin Surapanani
Administration and Northern Legal Services
Texas Water Development Board
P.O. Box 13231
Austin, Texas 78711-3231


Dear Mr. Surapanani:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 173248.

The Texas Water Development Board (the "board") received a request for information relating to computer software utilized by the board. You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.136 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted information.

Section 552.136 of the Government Code is entitled "Government Information Related to Security Issues for Computers" and provides in pertinent part:

(a) Information is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if it is information that relates to computer network security or to the design, operation, or defense of a computer network.

(b) The following information is confidential:

(1) a computer network vulnerability report; and

(2) any other assessment of the extent to which data processing operations, a computer program, network, system, or software of a governmental body or of a contractor of a governmental body is vulnerable to unauthorized access or harm, including an assessment of the extent to which the governmental body's or contractor's electronically stored information is vulnerable to alteration, damage, or erasure.

Gov't Code 552.136.

Although you argue that "[a] knowledge of all the programs on the network could be used to determine a means to gain unauthorized access to the network,"we find that you have not specifically demonstrated how release of the information you have submitted to this office would cause such a result. Nor do we otherwise find that this information is related to the security of the board's computers for purposes of section 552.136. Therefore, we find that the submitted information may not be withheld under section 552.136.

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).

Please remember that under the Act the release of information triggers certain procedures for costs and charges to the requestor. If records are released in compliance with this ruling, be sure that all charges for the information are at or below the legal amounts. Questions or complaints about over-charging must be directed to Hadassah Schloss at the Texas Building and Procurement Commission at 512/475-2497.

If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. We note that a third party may challenge this ruling by filing suit seeking to withhold information from a requestor. Gov't Code 552.325. 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.


V.G. Schimmel
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division
Ref: ID# 173248
Enc: Submitted documents

c: Mr. Kirk Yoshida
Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
c/o Srin Surapanani
Texas Water Development Board
P.O. Box 13231
Austin, Texas 78711-3231
(w/o enclosures)


POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US
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