Distribution of Mailing Lists
NDSU Extension is considered a “public entity” and subject to North Dakota’s Open Records and Open Meetings laws. The Open Records law applies to many records including lists of participants that are often used by NDSU Extension offices to carry out business. If you are asked to provide a list to someone, please use this document as a guide or contact your District Director if you have questions.
NDSU Extension lists may have to be made available when requested unless they are classified exempt or confidential. If you get a request for a list, it is suggested that you contact your District Director who will work with NDSU General Counsel to determine ultimately if this list must be provided. If it is determined that the list must be provided based on open records law, General Counsel will help define which items can be redacted or edited from the list (including addresses, phone numbers and e-mails) before distributing.
Access to lists is usually free, but a reasonable charge for the actual costs for mailing and making copies, including labor, materials and postage can be assessed. Costs for locating the records can also be assessed if it takes longer than one hour.
Records (including lists) are categorized in one of three ways in North Dakota’s Open Records Laws:
- Open – they MUST be released.
- Exempt – they MAY be withheld at the discretion of the public entity.
- Confidential – they MUST NOT be released.
Examples of records Open to the Public
- Minutes of open meetings.
- Personnel records related to job performance or salary.
- Financial, telephone and travel records of a public entity.
Examples of records Exempt to the public (may be withheld at the discretion of the public entity)
- Personal information (address, home/cell phone number, employee ID number, driver’s license number, date of birth, dependent information and emergency contact) of public employees. NDCC 44-04-18-1(2).
Examples of Confidential Records Not Open to the Public
- Any record that is a compilation of minor’s names, addresses, phone number, or any combination of that information. NDCC 44-04-18.13. This includes any list with minor 4-H members or participants.
- Personal information regarding a licensee maintained by an occupational or professional board, association, state agency, or commission created by law is exempt. As used in this section “licensee” means an individual who has applied for, holds, or has held in the past an occupational or professional license, certificate, credential, permit, or registration issued by a state occupational or professional board, association, agency or commission. NDCC 44-04-18.1(4). This includes pesticide certification lists as noted by letter dated June 17, 2004, from Paul Germoulos, Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General of North Dakota.
Other things to consider:
- Please do not share NDSU Extension listserv lists – these are set up for internal use only. If someone asks for them, contact the Director’s office.
- If the request is for a list that was generated from another entity, suggest the request be made to the original source of the list.
- In an attempt to keep e-mail addresses private when sending messages to a group, consider sending a message by using the BCC (blind courtesy copy) feature or the Undisclosed Recipients feature in Outlook. This will ensure that each recipient receives the e-mail, but is unable to see the e-mail addresses of others receiving the same e-mail.
For a summary of the North Dakota Attorney General’s Open Meetings and Open Records Laws please go to: http://www.ag.nd.gov/openrecords/ORSummary.pdf
The complete open records and open meetings manuals can also be found at the North Dakota Attorney General’s website: http://www.ag.nd.gov/OpenRecords/ORM2006A.htm
The NDSU Office of the General Counsel has additional information on open records and meetings at: http://www.ndsu.edu/general_counsel/open_records/