This is to advise our members about a recent open records request submitted to the Office of Personnel Management by The Oklahoman asking for, among other things, the employee identification numbers and birth dates of all state employees. While OPEA is an advocate for transparency in government, this request by The Oklahoman constitutes precisely the type of unwarranted invasion of privacy that certain provisions of the Open Records Act (ORA) were designed to prevent.
The Oklahoman requested:
FULL NAME, TITLE, EMPLOYEE ID NUMBER, EMPLOYEE AGENCY, EMPLOYEE JOB DESCRIPTION, EMPLOYEE START DATE AND EMPLOYEE DATE OF BIRTH OF EVERY STATE EMPLOYEE CURRENTLY EMPLOYED BY THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA.
In response to this request, OPM has issued an All Appointing Authority memo advising all state agencies to provide notice of the request to all their employees. In this notice, you may be asked to consent to the release of your information. OPEA is encouraging every state employee to NOT WAIVE ANY RIGHT TO PRIVACY without first seeking legal advice. If you are a member of OPEA, you may call the law firm of Fellers Snider at 1-800-311-9771.
Maintaining your privacy is important to us and that is why OPEA has been engaged in opposing The Oklahoman’s request as it raises privacy and safety concerns for all state employees. You have a right to know what information is being collected about you and how that information will be used before you waive any right to privacy. Your Association believes the release of this information would clearly constitute an unwarranted invasion of your personal privacy.
OPEA is in contact with private counsel regarding The Oklahoman’s request and OPM’s response, due to the substantial legal problems this issue presents, not only to state employees but to agencies as well. You will be hearing more publically or perhaps in another forum on this matter in the coming week.
The Association, as we believe you are, is committed to transparency in government, but not at the cost of state employee safety and privacy.
We look forward to working with you on this and all issues related to the lives of state employees and the future of our great state.
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