DHS Policies and Procedures for Handling Protected Information: 2.60 Data Requests and Copy Costs

2.60 Data requests and copy costs

DHS will respond to all requests for private and public data. DHS responses will be consistent with statutory requirements and reflect DHS’ commitment to provide timely services to the public.

Reason for policy

DHS is required to respond to requests for private data within specified time frames. DHS must respond to requests for public data within a reasonable timeframe. DHS may charge a fee to respond to certain types of requests. This policy provides consistent practices to use in evaluating and responding to requests for private and public data and for determining the amount to charge.

Responsibilities:

DHS privacy official will:

• Work with management to periodically review and revise this policy.

• Develop training materials and strategies to ensure that this policy is implemented consistently across DHS business areas.

• Work with other staff to determine and disseminate annual updates to this policy for staff time, copies and threshold for charges.

DHS management will:

• Ensure that employees receive training on the requirements of responding to data requests and for determining charges.

• Work with privacy official to periodically review and revise this policy.

• Ensure that adaptations of this policy maintain a high degree of consistency in determining when to assess charges for responding to a data request.

DHS staff will:

• Receive training or otherwise maintain awareness of the requirements of this policy.

Effective Date: Feb. 15, 2004

Version: 2

Standards: N/A

Procedures:

Definitions applicable to this policy:

Copy: A paper copy is a photocopy produced by a copy machine or a printed page produced by a printer. A paper copy is one side of a sheet of standard (letter or legal) paper. A two-sided copy counts as two copies. An electronic copy is data provided to a requesting party in an electronic format or by an electronic media, including data provided on CDs or diskettes and data sent via e-mail in response to a request for data.

Searching and retrieving: Searching and retrieving is time spent identifying and reviewing files, databases, or other storage devices (paper or electronic) to locate data or to determine whether data exist to respond to a request, and retrieving the relevant data. Retrieving data also includes creating, specifying, and executing a data warehouse query, reviewing the results for accuracy, and putting the data into a readable format.

Sorting: Sorting data includes time spent organizing the data, removing or inserting staples, paper clips, placing the data in folders, transporting the data to a location for viewing or inspection and related tasks.

Preparing summary data: Preparing summary data includes time spent removing identifying information (private data) to create summary (public) data from private data. The department is not required to create summary public data — that is, if public data is requested and is available in a format other than what is requested, the department does not have to put the data into the requested format.

Redaction: Redaction is the process of reviewing data and removing private data on one individual from private data about another individual when:

• an individual requests private data about him or herself;

• the private data about the individual who made the request is in a document or data set that also contains private data about one or more other individuals;

• the individual who requested the private data about him or herself does not have consent from the other individuals for the release of their data; and

• the requesting individual has no other legal authority to view the data.

Redaction does not include removing identifying information from private data and replacing the identifying data with a unique identifier to facilitate analysis of a variety of data elements.

Guidelines:

Fees for copies of government data generally are based on the costs of providing the data unless otherwise provided for by federal or state laws or regulations. DHS does not charge for:

• Viewing or inspecting records

• Searching and retrieving costs if the requestor is the data subject

• Requests from persons who are entitled by law to receive copies of government data free of charge.

• Copies usually given to another government agency in the normal course of business (applies to exchanges between government agencies).

• Publications and documents produced specifically for free public distribution

• Copies of case file data requested by individuals appealing a decision about their cash assistance or medical benefits

Obtaining copies of private data:

• To view or inspect (access) data only: There is never a charge of any kind when an individual requests only access to view or inspect public or private data.

• To obtain paper copies of data: If paper copies of data are requested, charges are allowed as set forth below. These charges are permitted only if copies are requested and must be prorated based on the number of copies actually requested.

• To obtain electronic copies of data: If electronic copies of data are requested, charges are allowed as set forth below. These charges are permitted only if copies are requested and must be prorated based on the number of copies actually requested.

• To receive electronic transmission of "copies": If electronic transmission (e-mail) of copies is requested, charges are allowed as set forth below. These charges are permitted only if copies are requested and must be prorated based on the number of copies actually requested.

When responding to a request for private data, from other than the data subject:

• Estimate the cost for searching and retrieving, sorting, copying and related activities. There is no charge for separating private data from public data.

When responding to a request for private data from the data subject:

• Only the actual costs of making, certifying and sorting the data may be charged. If the requestor is the data subject, there is no charge for searching and retrieving the data.

When responding to a request for private data, follow this procedure:

• Notify requester: Provide the cost estimate to the requester and request payment in advance for completing the request.

• Receive payment: Payment in advance is required unless a specific business area has an ongoing business relationship with a requester to submit billings for copies and for data search and retrieval.

• Produce data: Once full payment of the estimated cost is received, the process of searching and retrieving, sorting, compiling, redacting, and copying can be completed.

Obtaining copies of public data:

• To view or inspect (access) data only: There is never a charge of any kind when an individual requests only access to view or inspect public or private data.

• To obtain paper copies of data: If paper copies of data are requested, charges are allowed as set forth below. These charges are permitted only if copies are requested and must be prorated based on the number of copies actually requested.

• To obtain electronic copies of data: If electronic copies of data are requested, charges are allowed as set forth below. These charges are permitted only if copies are requested and must be prorated based on the number of copies actually requested.

• To receive electronic transmission of "copies": If electronic transmission (e-mail) of copies is requested, charges are allowed as set forth below. These charges are permitted only if copies are requested and must be prorated based on the number of copies actually requested.

When responding to a request for public data, follow this procedure:

• Estimate cost: estimate cost for searching and retrieving, sorting, copying and related activities. There is no charge for separating private data from public data. Generally, redacting is not deemed appropriate for public data unless it is preparation of summary data from private data on individuals.

• NOTE: If the requestor is the data subject (i.e. government employee personnel data), there is no charge for searching and retrieving the data; only the actual costs of making, certifying and sorting the data may be charged.

• Preparing summary public data: Private data may be used to create summary public data by removing all identifying information from private data or by retrieving and sorting private data to provide summary statistics. The time to perform these tasks should be included in the estimated cost if the request is for summary public data created from private data on individuals. There is no requirement to create summary data from existing public data. If a request requires creating summary data from existing public data, the cost estimate must include all staff time to complete the request.

• Notify requester: Provide the cost estimate to the requester and request payment in advance for completing the request.

• Receive payment: Payment in advance is required unless a specific business area has an ongoing business relationship with a requester to submit billings for copies and for data search and retrieval.

• Produce data: Once full payment of the estimated cost is received, the process of searching and retrieving, sorting, compiling, redacting and copying can be completed.

Determining charges:

Public Data

The formula for determining charges associated with paper copies of public data depends on whether the amount of data totals 100 pages or fewer:

• For requests of 100 pages or fewer: There is a flat fee of no more than $.25 per page that a government entity can charge for copies of public data totaling 100 pages or fewer (a “page” is one side of a piece of paper, so a two-sided copy would have a maximum cost of 50 cents).

• For requests totaling more than 100 pages: DHS may charge the “actual costs” for producing the data, plus a per-page-cost for each paper copy produced.

“Actual costs“ for producing public data of more than 100 pages are computed by applying DHS staff hourly pay rates to the time required for:

• Searching for and retrieving data, (if the requestor is not the data subject)

• Making, certifying, sorting, and electronically transmitting or mailing the data, including the cost of employee time.

There is no charge for redaction.

The actual cost of the copy is $0.08 per copied page (a “page” is one side of a piece of paper, so a two-sided copy would have a maximum cost of 16 cents). This amount will be updated annually (on July 1) and set to the cost of a self-serve copy at a nationally recognized copy service center. DHS staff hourly pay rates and charges for electronic copies, including copies provided on CD are listed below.

Private data for data subject

In the case of copies of private data for a data subject, DHS’ ability to recover costs is very limited. DHS may charge for:

• The “actual costs” associated only with making, certifying, and electronically transmitting or mailing the data. “Actual costs” for producing private data are computed by applying DHS staff hourly pay rates to the time required for making, certifying, and electronically transmitting or mailing the data.

• Search and retrieval costs cannot be charged.

• DHS staff hourly pay rates and charges for electronic copies, including copies provided on CD are listed below.

Private data for non-data subject

In the case of copies of private data where the requestor is not the data subject, DHS may charge for:

• The “actual costs” of searching for, retrieving, making, certifying, and electronically transmitting or mailing the data. “Actual costs” for producing private data are computed by applying DHS staff hourly pay rates to the time required for searching for, retrieving, making, certifying, and electronically transmitting or mailing the data.

• DHS staff hourly pay rates and charges for electronic copies, including copies provided on CD are listed below.

DHS staff hourly pay rates and charges electronic copies

Cost of staff time: The department uses staff hourly pay rates determined annually (on July 1) by Human Resources. These rates reflect the median wage (with no adjustments for benefits, indirect costs or other surcharges) for the specified classifications.

• Administrative staff: $15.88

• Professional staff: $24.59

• Technical staff: $32.42

• Managerial staff: $34.21

Prorating staff costs: The costs for searching and retrieving, sorting, and copying must be prorated if the individual, after reviewing or inspecting the data, requests copies of data. For example, if 110 pages of public data are made available for review or inspection and 11 pages are requested for copies, the individual must pay 10 percent of the cost of searching and retrieving, certifying, sorting, and making copies.

Cost of electronic copies: The cost of an electronic copy is the cost of the media on which the electronic copy is made or the cost of staff time to prepare and send an e-mail. The cost of a CD is $0.59; the cost of a diskette is $0.25. These costs will be updated annually (on July 1) using Central Stores pricing.

Business area discretion:

Exceptions: A member of the Senior Management Team or a division director must approve all exceptions to this policy. Exceptions must be for business or legal reasons, or in the best interest of the department. All exceptions must be in writing and available on the department’s public Web site. Requests from legislators, other government agencies, and entities under contract with the department are not subject to this policy, provided these requests are received in the normal course of business with these entities.

Waiver of charges: All incidental waivers of charges must be approved by a member of the Senior Management Team or a division director or their appointed representative.

Billing and administration:

Billing: There is no billing required if prepayment is received (follow "Receipting" instructions below), however, if an invoice or receipt is requested, special procedures may be implemented for each business area. If copies are provided without prepayment, each business area will use the billing form and follow billing and receipting guidelines developed by DHS Financial Operations Division (FOD). The form and related instructions are available at DHS’ internal Web site “DHS InfoLink” by selecting the A-Z Listing, then “I,” and then “Invoice Billing Form,” and then following instructions.

All billings for copies will be processed by the FOD from information submitted by the DHS program unit. To submit billing information to the FOD, complete the approved INVOICE form in InfoLink (FOD>Forms) and forward the completed form via e-mail to the designated staff in FOD. The information required includes:

• Customer name, billing address and telephone number

• Billing description and amount

• Accounting Information: Org, Appr, Fund, Revenue Source or Object Code

• SSN (if individual) or FEIN (if business)

• DHS program unit contact name and telephone number.

Receipting: All payments received by DHS program units should be immediately mailed directly via U.S. mail to:

Minnesota Department of Human Services

P.O. Box 64837

St. Paul, MN 55164-0837

• Attach a note indicating that the payment is for copy charges and indicate the deposit code for the payment.

• If the payment is less than $250, identify with Deposit Code No. 200

• If the payment is $250 or more, contact your division contact or the program accountant assigned to your business area for the appropriate deposit code.

Disputed charges and nonpayment: All disputed charges and nonpayment issues will be resolved by FOD consistent with DHS collection practices.

Forms: TBD

Related policies and statutes:

For further information, refer to:

Data Practices Manual (includes HIPAA-related revisions)

• The DHS Data Practices Compliance and HIPAA Privacy Official at: Carolyn.Schworer@state.mn.us


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