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Public Disclosure FAQ

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Q1: What are public records?

The Public Records Act is a Washington State law that allows you to review government records. Public records include documents in all formats, whether electronic or paper, that relate to government operations or conduct.

Q2: How is access to Port public records governed?

The Public Records Act, RCW 42.56, requires public agencies to make identifiable, non-exempt public records available for inspection and copying upon request and to publish procedures to inform the public how access to public records will be accomplished. Port of Seattle Policy and Procedure EX-19 provides the public full and timely access to information concerning the conduct of government, mindful of individuals’ privacy rights and the desirability of efficient administration. These procedures will be guided by the provision of the Act describing its purposes and interpretation. This procedure is applicable to all departments but is not applicable to Police Department records subject to Chapter 10.97 RCW.)

Q3: What records are exempt from disclosure?

Exemptions are listed in the Public Records Act, while others are found elsewhere in Washington state and federal law. Many of these exemptions are designed to protect privacy rights and legitimate business interests.

Q4: What if I only have a question or want general information?

General questions or requests for information are not typically Public Disclosure Requests. The Port of Seattle is not required to create new records, collect or analyze information, or conduct legal research under the Public Records Act.  If you have general questions or would like more information about the Port of Seattle that you can’t locate from our website, call (206) 787-3000.

Q5: How do I request a copy of a public document?

1. Request Port of Seattle documents online

Public Records logo For general Port records, use the NextRequest site.

 

Police department logo Request Police department records at the Police Department Records Request

2. Request documents in person or by FAX

  • Public records are available for inspection and copying during the Port of Seattle’s normal business hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., excluding legal holidays. 
  • Port staff and the requestor may make mutually agreeable arrangements for times of inspection and copying. Records will be made available for inspection at Port offices. Staff and the requestor may make mutually agreeable arrangements for inspection in a different location, if the particular records sought are maintained in field offices. Port records cannot be removed from Port offices.
  • The request must be for a specific identifiable record or series of records. The more precisely you identify the record you seek, the more efficient and effective we can be in locating and providing the appropriate documents. 

3. Request documents through the mail

Public Disclosure Requests may also be submitted by mail to: 

Port of Seattle 
Public Disclosure 
PO Box 1209 
Seattle, WA 98111 

Q6: What are the benefits of using Next Request, the online records request tool? 

As public disclosure requests continue to increase and become more complex, the Port of Seattle and Port of Seattle Police Department will be begin receiving and processing public disclosure requests using a new tool called Next Request.

Next Request provides a more reliable and simpler online public disclosure request process, eliminating the need for requests to be sent via email or through PDF forms. It also allows requests to be tracked and ensures they will not get missed or overlooked.

And the best part is that now requestors can download their documents as a PDF from their own online portal. This feature allows easy transfer of larger files and eliminates the hassle of receiving CDs via snail mail.

In the future there also will be a “most requested” document section where users can view and download these documents.

All of these features will not only make the entire process easier for the requestor, but will allow port staff to more efficiently and effectively fulfill each request — no matter how complex.

Q7: When will I receive a response to my public disclosure request?

You will receive a response within five business days.

The Port will respond in one of several ways:

  1. Provide the records (or a link to the portion of our website that contains the records).
  2. Request clarification.
  3. Provide a reasonable estimate of time that it will take to produce the records (if the documents are not readily available).
  4. Give you estimated timeframes for delivery of large requests. The Port may have to produce the records on a partial or installment basis. The Port will also provide the estimated timeframes for each incremental delivery as we work through your request.
  5. Deny the request in whole or in part when legal exemptions apply. The Port may either withhold the requested records or redact the exempt documents and will include an explanation of reasons for the exemption.

Q8: Is there a fee?

There is no fee for electronic records that are provided electronically or for the in-person inspection of public records. The Port may charge .15 cents per page for paper copies of records or other actual costs associated with mailing or producing the records. 

Please refer to the Fee Schedule for printing and copying details. You can also review information on the Public Records Index.

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