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.”
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
- 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.