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Glenn Hegar  ·  Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Confidential Employee Information for Open Records Requests Requiring Agency Input

Issued: July 31, 2009
Updated: Sept. 18, 2015 – View Changes

FPP L.004

Overview

Applicable to

State agencies and institutions of higher education

Summary

The Fiscal Management Division responds to a number of open records requests for payment-related data in any given year. Many of these requests deal with information directly related to state employees. Public information, including non-confidential employee level data, is published on numerous public websites.

Certain employee information is confidential under the Texas Public Information Act (Texas Government Code, Chapter 552). Agencies are responsible for:

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Personal Safety Exception

Government Code Section, Section 552.152, provides for confidentiality of information concerning public employee personal safety. Fiscal Management reports can be set up to exclude employees who would be under substantial threat of physical harm if information such as work location were to be made public. Payments made prior to the notification of the employee’s need for confidentiality must be manually masked from display on public websites or in subsequent open records requests.

If your agency has an employee who qualifies for the personal safety exception, please contact Ruth Soucy in Open Records in the Comptroller’s office at (512) 475-0411 or Ruth.Soucy@cpa.texas.gov.

Note: This provision is situation specific, but the Comptroller’s office has held that a personal safety exception may require a protective order to be in force. A protective order fits the guidelines of the statute that “disclosure of the information would subject the employee or officer to a substantial threat of physical harm.”

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Employee Personal Information Release Election

Government Code, Section 552.024, provides that each state employee may choose whether to allow public access to the person’s:

  • Home address
  • Home telephone number
  • Social Security number
  • Information that reveals whether the person has family members
  • Emergency contact information

Regardless of Section 552.024 election, Government Code, Section 552.117, provides for the confidentiality of the above employee information for:

  • Peace officers
  • Security officers
  • Current or former employees of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
  • Current or former employees of the Office of the Attorney General performing law enforcement activities
  • Current or former employees of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department
  • Current or former members of the Texas military forces

In addition, Government Code, Section 552.1175, provides that judges and district, county and municipal attorneys may choose to have the above information withheld from public disclosure.

Note: A number of other groups can opt in writing to protect their information, but these groups also fall generally within Government Code, Section 552.024 or .117. Dates of birth are already considered confidential, but Section 552.1175 includes that in the list of what the employees can opt to protect.

The payroll system for your agency is set up to record the employee election for each of the types of information that the employee may choose to protect. For new employees, each field needs to be populated with the valid value meaning Yes – release the information or No – protect the information.

For more information, see the documentation for your agency payroll system:

  • Centralized Accounting and Payroll/Personnel System (CAPPS) HR/Payroll: For employees in a protected class, Web Services will return the appropriate value upon hire so that the employee information is marked Confidential. All other employees may make changes to their release indicators through Employee Self-Service.
  • Human Resource Information System (HRIS): “How to Enter Records for a New Hire or Transferred Employee” in the HRIS Online Inquiry and Entry Guide
  • Standardized Payroll/Personnel Reporting System (SPRS): “210 Record – Employee Descriptive Information” in SPRS Personnel Edits Personnel Batch/Transaction Status Layout
  • Uniform Statewide Payroll/Personnel System (USPS): “HMPNH – New Hire/Processing a New Employee” in the USPS Process Guide

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Form Letters for Protected Open Record Requests

Governmental agencies are allowed to redact information on certain types of open records requests, if those requests seek information protected under the Government. The Office of Attorney General has created form letters for agencies to use that say in part:

As allowed by section 552.024 of the Texas Government Code, this public employee has chosen to make this personal information confidential. Our office is prohibited by law from releasing this personal information to you, and therefore we have removed this information from the enclosed information we are providing to you.

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Marking Payments to Employees Confidential

As with any payment that is exempted from disclosure, the paying agency must mark employee payments confidential if appropriate. Payments to employees may include travel reimbursements or other expenses.

For more information, see USAS and CAPPS Financials Confidentiality Indicator (FPP E.045).

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Changes to this Document
09/18/2015 Updated through the acts of the 84th Legislature, Regular Session; added CAPPS information
11/22/2013 Included employee personal information release election, added legal cites and updated to FPP format
Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Questions? Contact statewide.accounting@cpa.texas.gov
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