Author: Joe Walker

Don’t get run over by a GRAMA

During this time of year, when we hear the word “GRAMA,” it is usually followed by the words: “got run over by a reindeer.”

But not for Brandi Trujillo.

Brandi is a member of UDOT’s risk management team. Part of her assignment is to respond to requests for information, documents and materials made through Utah’s Government Records Access and Management Act – otherwise known as GRAMA requests. And those requests come in at a rate of about two requests per working day – even during the holidays.

“The law is designed to give everyone – from the media to business and political interests to everyday citizens – access to public records,” Brandi said. “We do the public’s work with public money, and it’s the public’s right to know how and why we spend it.”

As a state agency, Brandi said, responding to these requests is not just a matter of law. “UDOT has identified transparency as one of our primary emphasis areas,” she said. “We really believe in that. So responding to these requests is important to us as a matter of principle, not just because we are required to do it.”

Grama Coordinator Brandi Trujillo processes GRAMA requests from her office.

Grama Coordinator Brandi Trujillo

Because UDOT intends to respond appropriately to GRAMA requests, UDOT’s attorneys feel it is important that employees understand what kinds of records are subject to GRAMA scrutiny. Renee Spooner, who is an assistant Attorney General for the state of Utah and is assigned specifically to work with UDOT, said those records include:

  • Work product created in the course of employment
  • Email correspondence and written communication
  • Books
  • Letters
  • Documents
  • Papers
  • Maps
  • Plans
  • Photographs
  • Films
  • Cards
  • Tapes
  • Recordings
  • Electronic data

“Generally,” Spooner said, “the only protected documents are attorney work product and attorney/client communication. Everything else is fair game, regardless of its physical form or characteristics. So it is probably a good idea to remind employees to be sure that the language they use in all of these public records is appropriate, accurate and professional. You never know when a document, map or email you create may become part of a GRAMA request, legal case or news story.”

And nobody wants to get run over by a GRAMA.

Grama Coordinator Brandi Trujillo

All UDOT GRAMA requests are handled at Brandi’s office

UDOT’s “Walking School Bus” app recognized for environmental leadership, innovation

 WASHINGTON – Calling transportation “the critical link between home, school, work, community and commerce,” the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) chose Earth Day 2015 to release a new video that uses UDOT’s “Walking School Bus” as an example of how state DOTs are making communities more livable and transportation systems more sustainable.

“States are applying tremendous creativity and ingenuity to ensure that transportation systems enhance the world in which we live,” said Bud Wright, AASHTO executive director.

UDOT’s “Walking School Bus” – an organized effort in which students walk or bike to and from school together under the supervision of at least one adult – is presented as one of the innovative solutions featured in the new video.

“Researchers found that fewer parents were choosing to have their children walk or bike to school because of safety concerns and other factors,” says UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras in explaining the program in the video, adding that “Utah families and the environment are benefiting because children are healthier, there are fewer green-house gas emissions and bus operating costs have been reduced.”

Other programs featured in the video include bicycle and pedestrian facilities, wildlife protection initiatives and recycling projects.

You can watch the video on AASHTO’s Center for Environmental Excellence page, and view an interactive infographic on the UDOT SNAP page.