Over the summer, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 17-040, which modernizes the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) to include the release of documents in a digital format.
CORA became state law in 1969 and has been amended several times to provide the public access to records of state and local agencies within Colorado. As a public institution of higher education, the University of Colorado is among these agencies. Most records are considered public unless they fall under an exemption category, such as personnel records, security-sensitive documents, attorney-client privileged memos, etc.
While, prior to this summer, the law allowed for the release of records in a paper format, the new bill requires a requested public record to be provided in the format in which it's kept. For example, a Microsoft Excel database of employee names and salary figures may be provided to a requester in a digital and sortable format.
The new bill did not alter the existing exemptions under CORA law, such as withholding Social Security numbers, academic grade reports and information protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). These exemptions remain in place. It’s important to note, however, most records (such as employee salaries and other expenditures of public funds, certain email correspondence and agendas and minutes from department meetings) are public records under CORA.
On the Boulder campus, Scott Bocim, assistant to the chancellor and custodian of records, is the official point of contact for all CORA requests. The university’s CORA policy can be found here.