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Administrative support

Administrative support

Records management

Requests for access to information

As a case officer at OsloMet you are responsible for processing the requests for access to information that you receive. Here you will find assistance.

Contents

1. Registering documents according to official principles in P360

Which documents are public and which should be exempted from public disclosure according to the Freedom of Information Act (PDF)

How should access to documents be managed internally (PDF)

2. Why do I receive requests for access to information - Public journal

3. How do I process requests for access to information in line with the Freedom of Information Act

What should be exempted from access

What must / should be granted access (principle of enhanced access to information)

How to I process and redact partially disclosed documents

Administrative procedures regarding requests for access to information in Public 360

4. Public disclosure assessment within the various subject areas

Research and projects

HR - Recruitment and personnel management

Student issues

5. Processing appeals

6. User support

7. Read more about requests for access to information

Registering documents in P360

Documents in Public 360 must be filed in a manner that respects the requirement for openness in the administration, cf. the Public Administration Act and the Freedom of Information Act. Here you will find guidance on:

Why does OsloMet receive requests for access to information

The Freedom of Information Act sanctions the public's right to demand access to case documents at OsloMet. The public’s gateway to the university's case documents is public journal. This is a registry containing correspondence and documentation produced at OsloMet (incoming and outgoing letters and notes). The documents in Public 360 form the basis for the university's public journal. Public journal is open to access unless otherwise stated by laws and regulations.

You can find the University's public journal here.

How should requests for access to information be processed according to the Freedom of Information Act

Everyone can request access to case documents, journals and similar records at OsloMet. The general rule in the Freedom of Information Act (cf. Section 3) is that case documents, journals and similar records of the institution are open to access, unless otherwise stated by laws or regulations.

Deadlines

Access requests received at OsloMet must be processed without undue delay (cf. Section 29 Freedom Act). At OsloMet, this is defined as three working days. If the case processing goes on for more than three days, a preliminary response must be sent out. If a request is not answered within three days, the request for access to information is considered as rejected.

Check out our guide about where to receive and process documents in Public 360

What should be exempted from access

When assessing requests for access to information, one must consider whether the document contains information that should be exempt from public disclosure. Confidential information in a document is always exempt from access (cf. Section 13 Public Administration Act, cf. Section 13 Freedom Act). Confidential information is mainly linked to personal matters, but can also be related to business secrets and matters of importance to the national security.

As an employee at OsloMet, you have a statutory duty of confidentiality regarding information about other’s personal circumstances. This is information that one usually wants to keep private and which can be linked to one or more individuals, either directly or indirectly. Examples of this kind of information include physical and mental health, terms of employment and sexual orientation. The fact that a student has not completed his or her education can be regarded as a personal circumstance.

What must / should be granted access (the principle of enhanced access to information)

The principle of enhanced access to information means that the relevant administrative body must always assess whether a document can be fully or partially disclosed, even though legislative provisions provide for its potential exemption from public disclosure. Access to information should be granted if the considerations for public disclosure outweigh the need for exemption from access.

In order to respect the principle of enhanced access to information, you must always assess whether the document can be disclosed, even though you have the opportunity to exempt it from access.

The person requiring access to information will usually be far more satisfied if you provide a redacted version of the document (if possible) rather than not granting access at all. If an access request is rejected based on a clause granting permission in the Freedom of Information Act, the requester will normally appeal against the decision (cf. section 32 of the Act).

Enhanced access to information should be considered for the following documents:

The administrative agency's internal documents (Freedom Act section 14.1)

  • Case reports, drafts, concepts, sketches, theses and similar work documents that have been prepared along the way in a process.
  • Internal documents prepared by a working group or a committee appointed by OsloMet.
  • Assistance documents such as general assessments, statistics and cost analyses for internal use.

Documents obtained externally (Freedom Act section 15) 

  • Exemptions from access may be made in respect of parts of any document containing advice on, and assessments of, how OsloMet should stand on a specific case. For example, advice from a lawyer in a dismissal case.

Cases concerning appointments, payroll records etc. (Freedom Act section 25)

  • Exemptions from access may be made in respect of documents in cases concerning appointments or promotions in the civil service.
  • Lists of applicants are normally public, but exemptions from access can be made if the applicant himself requests it.
  • Exceptions from access may be made for written records of salary calculations or calculations of similar compensation, the calculation basis for holiday pay and deductions made on payment (cf. section 25.3). General salary information is public.

Grades and certificates of educational qualifications (Freedom Act section 26)

  • Transcript of records / diplomas from primary school, upper secondary school and higher education.
  • Answers to examinations or similar tests.
  • Examination question papers (until the exam is held).

Research projects (Freedom Act section 26.4)

  • In some cases, exemptions from access may be made in respect of information about research ideas and research projects. The purpose of the exemption is to prevent competing researchers or others from accessing the material and from taking advantage of it in an unfair manner. The exemption only applies to information about research ideas and projects or which the researcher receives support or advice from OsloMet.

Information that usually is not subject to a duty of confidentiality (cf. Public Administration Act Section 13, Freedom Act section 13):

  • Information about where a person has worked or is currently working, working hours, occupation and position.
  • Information on gross wages. At OsloMet, the payee will always be informed if his or her salary information has been disclosed.
  • A person's name, email address and telephone number are not subject to a duty of confidentiality unless the information identifies personal circumstances.
  • Information about a person's education and authorizations.

National ID numbers (Freedom Act section 26.5)

  • National ID numbers and other numbers that serve the same function (D-number) can be exempted from public disclosure. The exemption applies when the entire ID number appears from the document. The exemption also includes cases where the ID number appears without the date of birth. Foreign ID are also covered by the exemption.
  • NB! Date of birth and organization / company numbers are public.

How do I process and redact partially disclosed documents

  • The blacking out of information in a document that has been partially granted is done by the individual case officer in consultation with a colleague and / or manager.
  • Here you will find a simple guide to redacting documents in Adobe.
  • We cannot guarantee that redaction in Adobe is 100% secure (the obscured parts could potentially be retrieved) and we therefore recommend that you print out the redacted file and then scan it. Alternatively, you can print the redacted file as an image (properties and print as image) and then save it in a suitable place.
  • The redacted document is sent to SDI (dokhjelp@oslomet.no) by e-mail and is marked “redacted request for access to information - case number XX / 0XXXX”

Public disclosure assessment within the various subject areas

Below are some examples of requests for access to information with regard to specific subject areas at OsloMet.

Research and projects

Section 26.4 of the Freedom of Information Act applies when you assess requests for access to information for documents related to R&D. This section states that exemptions from access may be made in respect of information about research ideas and research projects in cases concerning financial support or counselling from the government in connection with research projects.

If the need for internal access control of the document arises, one can use the access group “Research funding”. This implies that only a selected few at the university will have access to the relevant documents. Whether a document should be exempt from access and / or have an internal access group must be considered on a case-to-case basis.

HR - Recruitment and personnel management

Documents created within the HR area are largely related to recruitment and personnel management. All documents related to recruitment are filed in a joint recruitment case in Public 360. Similarly, documents about the individual's terms of employment (employment contract, leave applications, salary changes, etc.) are filed in a personnel portfolio. The access to the personnel portfolio is restricted to the employee himself, his / her manager and employees at OsloMet working with personnel management. Although the personnel portfolio has restricted access, it may contain documents that are not exempt from public disclosure and the university is obliged to grant access to these documents if requested (e.g. an application for educational leave of absence). Thus, although a personnel portfolio is exempt from public disclosure (cf. Freedom Act Section 13), it is not a given that all its documents must be exempt from access.

Those who do not work with personnel management (whether at OsloMet or not) may request access to the documents. In this case, an assessment of whether to grant access or not must be made on a case-to-case basis.

When deciding whether a document should be exempt from public disclosure or not, one also has to consider its contents and make an evaluation based on its context. All documents in a personnel portfolio are linked to a joint case number that is publicly known. Since a personnel portfolio may contain both public and exempt documents (cf. section 13), all names in the documents must be blacked out to prevent unauthorized persons from disclosing who the case is about.

In public journal, public documents are filed in a personnel portfolio marked with ***  and not UO § 13. The three stars mean that the names in the documents have been obscured, but that the document is otherwise public. This solution has been chosen because it is not possible to black out names without specifying the legal basis in the Freedom of Information Act.

Below are some examples of redaction practices for documents related to recruitment and personnel management. These are just examples - you must always evaluate the contents of each document. Whether or not an access request to an application for leave of absence is to be granted will depend on the reason for the application.

Examples of redaction practices - recruitment and personnel management
What
Exempt from access
Access group in Public 360
Clause of Freedom Act.
Assessments that must be made
Vacancy announcement No Public    
Public applicant list  No Personal    
Expanded applicant list Yes Personal §25  
Expert assessment Postponed disclosure Personal §5 Disclosure following start of employment. Decision by University College Board
Notes to expert assessment Postponed disclosure Personal §5 Disclosure following start of employment. Desicion by University College Board
Appointment documents Yes Personal §25  
Employment contract Access granted Personal *** Personal identification number/ bank account number blacked out
Letter of recommendation   Personal   Personal information blacked out 
Applications for leave of absence due to illness Yes Personal §13 Rejected
Assess nonetheless disclosure with personal information blacked out
Fungering No Public   Personal information blacked out
Dismissal No Public   Personal information blacked out
Confirmation of received dismissal No Public   Personal information blacked out
Report from the Occupational Health Service following work place assessment Partial Personal §13 Rejected
Assess nonetheless disclosure with personal information blacked out

 

Student Issues

The student portfolio has limited access; only the head of the single study administration unit as well as employees working with student administration have access to these portfolios. That being said, the student folder may, however, contain documents that are not exempt from public disclosure. OsloMet is in fact obliged to grant access to these documents if requested (for example, an application for leave due to travel abroad). Thus, even though a student folder is exempt from access, cf. Section 13 of the Act, this does not automatically mean that all its documents should be exempt from public disclosure

When deciding whether a document should be exempted from public disclosure or not, one also has to consider its contents and make an evaluation based on its context. All documents in a student portfolio are linked to a joint case number that is publicly known. Since a student portfolio may contain both public and exempt documents (cf. section 13), all names in the documents must be blacked out to prevent unauthorized persons from disclosing who the case is about

Thus, as a general rule, student portfolios and their documents have restricted access to employees working with student administration. People who are not affiliated with the student administration (whether they work at OsloMet or not) may request access to the documents, and an assessment must be made of whether to grant access or not in each single case.

Below are some examples of redaction practices for documents related to student issues. These are just examples - you must always evaluate the contents of each document. Whether or not an access request to an application for leave of absence is to be granted or not, will depend on the reason for the application.

Table - assessment of contents
What Exempt from access Access group in Public 360 Clause of the freedom Act Assessments that must be made 
Rejected appeal - Refund of semester fee No Public    
Medical certificate - Application for leave Yes Student § 13 Rejected
Assess nonetheless disclosure with personal information blacked out
Application for transfer from the University of Agder to OsloMet No Public   Rejected if the application is made based on personal circumstances (jf. §13)
Rejected appeal about the decision on the loss of the right to admission to a course Partial Student § 13 Personal information black out
Answer paper Partial Student § 26

Can be exempted, but the enhanced access should be considered

 

 

Processing appeals

If a request for access to information is rejected, the requester can lodge an appeal. The deadline for appeals is three weeks and it must be in writing. The recipient of the appeal is responsible for registering it in Public 360. It must be registered as a new case in the case processing system. The responsible section must then re-assess the request, together with a lawyer. They must consider whether access can be given in spite of the initial rejection, or whether the request can be partially granted, i.e. that a redacted document can be released (cf. the principle of enhanced access to information). If the decision on rejection is left unchanged, the appeal is forwarded to the appeals committee at the Norwegian Universities and Colleges Admission Service (NUCAS).

When sending a case to the appeals committee at NUCAS, a cover letter is created. All documents subject to the request for access must be attached to the case. The requester must receive a copy of the appeals letter (NB! Remember to remove the attachments).

NB: Documents containing personal information should not be sent by e-mail.

The chart below shows the ordinary case procedures for processing appeals against rejected requests for access:

 

User support

Below you will find tips and advice for what to do when you are stuck, as well as suggestions for courses you can attend to raise your competence regarding public disclosure and access to information.

Ask a colleague for advice

If you are in doubt about the public disclosure assessment of your documents, we would advise you to contact a colleague or a manager for assistance. If you know a lawyer who works within your discipline, he or she will also be able to assist.

SDI can provide advice and guidance at a higher level, but it has no legal expertise. We would therefore like to emphasize that it is you as the case officer who is responsible for the public disclosure assessment and for processing the access requests for the documents you are processing.

How to process requests in Public 360

User guidance for processing requests for access to information in Public 360.

Courses

Recommended literature (in Norwegian only)

Relevant laws

The Public Administration Act chapter III - General rules governing administrative proceedings

  • The Public Administration Act - section 13 (Duty of secrecy)
The Freedom of Information Act chapter 2 - Main rules on access
  • The Freedom of Information Act – section 5 (Deferred access)
  • The Freedom of Information Act – section 9 (Collation of information from databases)
  • The Freedom of Information Act – section 11 (Enhanced access to information)
The Freedom of Information Act chapter 3 - Exemptions from the right to access
  • The Freedom of Information Act – section 13 (Information subject to duty of confidentiality)
  • The Freedom of Information Act – section 14 (internal documents)
  • The Freedom of Information Act – section 25 (appointments and promotions)
  • The Freedom of Information Act – section 26 (examinations and research)
The Freedom of Information Act chapter 4 - Procedure and appeal
  • The Freedom of Information Act – section 32 (appeal)
The Person Data Act

Read more about access to information

What are really requests for access to information?

Requesting access to information is a democratic right that all citizens have to have the contents of a public document disclosed. This right is underlined in Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act:

The purpose of this Act is to facilitate an open and transparent public administration, and thereby strengthen freedom of information and expression, democratic participation, legal safeguards for the individual, confidence in the public authorities and control by the public. The Act shall also facilitate the re-use of public information.

The main rule in the Freedom of Information Act is that all public documents are open to the public, regardless of whether the person requesting access has a legitimate reason or a particular need. This applies to documents that the organisation makes itself as well as those retrieved from others.

Exemptions from access must have a legal basis in the Freedom of Information Act or in other legislation or regulations based on law. Other sources of the right to access to information can be found in the Public Administration Act, the Patients' Rights Act and the Personal Data Act.

Procedures for access requests

An access request is usually received by the Section for Records and Information Management (SDI) at post@oslomet.no. The responsible for ordering provides information about which documents / cases the access request concerns. If you, as case officer, receive an access request personally, we ask that you send it to oslomet@hioa.no so that we can register it in Public 360. When the request has been registered, it follows a predefined procedure.

As a general rule, the procedure for access requests goes as follows:Bilde av saksgang for innsynskrav. Grafisk presentasjon.

If the document is partially granted, it must be redacted by the case officer. SDI sends out the redacted version of the document to the person ordering, since it cannot be automatically e-mailed.

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