Freedom of Information
SCWS recognizes the right of any person, subject to the provisions of the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), to inspect or receive copies of any public record, as defined by law, in accordance with reasonable rules concerning time and place of access. In this regard, the following provisions govern such requests:
- All requests to inspect and/or receive copies of records should be made in writing to the attention of the Board Chair or Executive Director.
- Within 10 (ten) business days of receipt of a written request to copy, review, or receive public records, the Board Chair or Executive Director will send written notification to the person making the request. The notification will confirm whether or not the records are subject to disclosure, when the records can be made available, and state approximate actual costs, if any, which will be incurred by SCWS and charged to respond to the request. Specifically, the FOIA allows the collection of reasonable fees, not to exceed actual cost of the search, retrieval, and redaction of records. The fee for the search, retrieval, or redaction of records shall not exceed the prorated hourly salary of the lowest paid employee who, in the reasonable discretion of the custodian of the records, has the necessary skill and training to perform the request.
- Requested documents may be provided in digital form via a thumb drive or other electronic device or method used to transmit digital files. Where an electronic version of a requested public record does not exist, SCWS is not required to create an electronic version.
The following materials are usually exempt from disclosure:
- Records that are specifically required by federal or State statute or regulation to be kept confidential;
- Records related to an investigation or prosecution of criminal activity;
- Information of a personal nature where the public disclosure thereof will constitute unreasonable invasion of personal privacy;
- Documents incidental to proposed contractual arrangements and proposed sale or purchase of property;
- Salaries of employees, except as provided by the FOIA;
- Correspondence or work products of legal counsel for SCWS and any other material that would violate attorney-client relationship;
- Personally identifiable information in educational records;
- Test questions, scoring keys and other materials when disclosing such documents would compromise the validity of the test;
- Materials gathered by a public body during a search to fill an employment position, except as provided by the FOIA; and
- Any other matters exempt from disclosure under the FOIA.
S.C. Code, 1976, as amended:
Section 30-4-10, et seq. – South Carolina Freedom of Information Act
Schedule of Fees for Public Records
South Carolina Freedom of Information Act (§ 30-4-30(B))
A reasonable fee not to exceed the actual cost will be charged for the search, retrieval, and, when appropriate, redaction, of records produced in response to a request for public records under the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”). Additionally, copies will be charged at a cost not to exceed the prevailing commercial rate for the producing of copies. In certain cases, particularly FOIA requests in which a large number of records or confidential information is requested, a deposit not exceeding 25% of the total estimated fee will be required prior to commencing the retrieval and production of records.
Reasonable efforts will be made to produce records at the lowest possible cost, and the following fee schedule will apply:
- Copying costs will be charged at a commercially reasonable rate of $0.10 per page, and, the fee for non-standard size documents, such as architectural plans or property plats, will be individually determined at the time of copying based on actual copying cost.
- Search, retrieval, and redaction costs of records will be charged at the prorated hourly salary of the lowest paid employee who, in the reasonable discretion of the custodian of the records, has the necessary skill and training to perform the search, retrieval, and, if appropriate, redaction. Records requests involving specialized, technical, or confidential information, or otherwise requiring redaction, will in many cases require an employee with a higher salary to perform the search, retrieval, and/or redaction. The fee rate, accordingly, will vary based on the nature of the records requested, depending on the necessary skill and training level necessary. Time will be billed based on 1/4 hour increments.
The fee schedule may change from time to time as salaries and commercially reasonable copying costs change.
Fees will not be charged for examination and review of documents to determine if the documents are subject to disclosure. Additionally, copying costs will not be charged for copies of records that are transmitted in electronic format, although if requested records are not already in electronic format, fees will be charged for staff time required to transfer the documents to electronic format.