SB 272: A New Disclosure Requirement Under the Public Records Act, Effective July 1, 2016

Public Agency  

July 22, 2016

As part of a larger effort to improve California’s governmental transparency, the State legislature enacted Senate Bill 272 (Government Code section 6270.5) to update the Public Records Act with a new mandate. SB 272 requires local government agencies to create and make publicly available a “catalog,” or list, of all “enterprise systems” used in the course of agency operations. An “enterprise system” is any software application or computer system that collects, stores, exchanges, or analyzes information about the public. The catalog must include the following basic details about each enterprise system:

  • the name of the system;
  • the system vendor;
  • a short summary of the system’s purpose;
  • a general description of the categories or types of data stored in the system;
  • the agency department that acts as the primary custodian of the system;
  • how frequently system data is collected; and
  • how frequently system data is updated.

As of July 1, 2016, your agency is required to complete and post the catalog to the agency website, if you have one, and update it annually thereafter. Because SB 272 was added to the Public Records Act, agencies may not seek reimbursement from the State for costs associated with compliance.

Although SB 272 imposes a new mandate, it is limited in a number of ways. It excludes information technology security systems such as firewalls or cyber security systems. It also exempts software systems related to physical controls, including access control systems, video monitoring, employee identification management systems, and any infrastructure control mechanisms that manage street lights, electrical, natural gas, or water or sewer functions.

SB 272 does not alter what information is subject to public access, nor does it grant access to information that is otherwise restricted by statute. Importantly, SB 272 does not require agencies to actually publish the data from their enterprise systems. Rather, the catalog serves as a way for the public to more easily identify the source of information they may seek through the normal request procedures under the California Public Records Act.

You can vIew an example of an enterprise system catalog under Related Files.

Click here for the full text of the bill.  If you have any questions about this new requirement or would like assistance in creating an enterprise system catalog, we would be happy to help.