FOIA - SC Ports Authority

FOIA

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PUBLIC INFORMATION REQUESTS

Overview
How to Request Records Under FOIA
Sample FOIA Request


OVERVIEW

As an agency and instrumentality of the State of South Carolina, the South Carolina Ports Authority makes its public records available under the provisions of the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). FOIA is operated on the premise that the public should have reasonable access to information concerning activities of public officials and decisions that are reached in public activity and in the formulation of government policy.

Records of the SCPA are open for inspection and copying pursuant to, and subject to, the limitations of, the South Carolina FOIA, S.C. Code of Laws , §§ 30-4-10, et seq. (1976, as amended). To balance access to information against the need to prevent individuals, businesses and government from harm resulting from release of certain information, FOIA provides a means by which certain information can be withheld from disclosure. In addition, the South Carolina General Assembly has enacted the Family Privacy Protection Act of 2002, and both state and federal laws restrict information that was once public record against disclosure in the name of homeland security or family and personal privacy. The SCPA complies with current statutes, laws and regulations.

The SCPA supports the following principles regarding access to its public records:

  1. Public records should be provided in a well-organized and clear manner.
  2. Access to public records should be reasonably priced and records should be readily accessible, taking into account the time and expense of research, retrieval and copying costs.
  3. Public records should be properly managed and archived, including retention and disposal schedules.
  4. Except as required by law, the privacy rights of individuals and the rights of businesses with respect to trade secrets and other private financial or business information should not be compromised or abridged by the dissemination of public records.

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HOW TO REQUEST RECORDS UNDER FOIA

The SCPA receives a number of FOIA requests. To help ensure that all requests are handled consistently and in keeping with the law, all requests for information pursuant to FOIA must be made in writing. No particular form is required, although the request must state that it is made pursuant to FOIA. A sample request can be found below.

Written FOIA requests should be sent to the SCPA as follows:

By Mail:
Attn: FOIA Office
South Carolina Ports Authority
PO Box 22287
Charleston, SC 29413-2287

By E-Mail:
FOIA@SCSPA.com

Please note that due to spam blocking software and the unpredictability of electronic communication, e-mail requests may not be received by SCPA personnel. Receipt of an e-mail request will be acknowledged by return e-mail, if received by SCPA personnel. If no acknowledgment of the e-mail request is received within three business days, we recommend a follow-up e-mail or telephone contact with the SCPA Public Relations Office at (843)577-8121.

To help ensure that the SCPA is responsive to your request, try to be as specific as possible about the information you are requesting. You may be contacted to clarify your request. Please note that information considered exempt from disclosure by FOIA or by other state and/or federal statutes or laws will not be disclosed. Certain requests which may involve ongoing litigation, law enforcement activities, confidentiality, or other FOIA or separate statutory exemptions, may be referred to legal counsel for advice or, where appropriate, for response.

FOIA provides that the SCPA may establish and collect reasonable fees to cover the actual cost of searching for and/or making copies of records. Currently, the SCPA charges an hourly research and retrieval rate of $27 per hour for significant requests, as well as a copying fee of $0.15 per page. Individuals requesting records will be advised of any potential expenses greater than $50 before the records are collected. Fees can be waived for requests that require minimal employee time and photocopying expense and when the request will benefit the public interest. Charges may be assessed for repetitive requests. Port Police Incident Reports are provided at a flat charge of $5.00 per copy for research and copying. All fees are subject to change without notice.

SAMPLE FOIA REQUEST

DATE OF REQUEST
Attn: FOIA Office
South Carolina Ports Authority
PO Box 22287
Charleston, SC 29413-2287

Pursuant to the S.C. Freedom of Information Act, this letter is a request for the public records listed below. I would like to request [ specify records as narrowly and specifically as you can ]. I can be reached by telephone at [_________]. Please advise if the charge for producing the records is greater than $50.

NAME

ADDRESS

FAMILY PRIVACY PROTECTION ACT NOTICE

Section 30-2-50 of the Code of Laws of the State of South Carolina provides that no person or private entity shall knowingly obtain or use any personal information obtained from a public body. for any commercial solicitation directed to a person in this state. A person knowingly violating this prohibition is guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to the penalties specified in S.C. Code of Laws § 30-2-50 (D) (1976, as amended). The South Carolina Ports Authority, as a public entity, hereby gives notice to requestors of records from this agency, that obtaining or using these public records for commercial solicitation is prohibited.

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