It is the policy of the Maryland Higher Education Commission to facilitate public access to the Commission's records when access is allowed by law. Consistent with the statutory and regulatory provisions governing access to public records:
Generally, the Commission will require a written request from persons or entities who seek access to the Commission's public records;
The fee for each paper copy is 25 cents per exposure when reproduction reasonably can be made by a photocopying machine within the Commission offices. Otherwise, the fee for reproducing the record is based on the actual cost of reproduction. Certified copies will be charged at an additional $1.00 per page;
After the first two hours, for which there is no charge, it is the policy of the Commission to charge $20.00 per hour for time required to search for a public record and prepare it for inspection or copying. Where software development and/or computer resources necessary to generate computer files are required to comply with a request, the Commission will charge the actual costs associated with preparation and production of the public record;
Before searching for, preparing, producing or copying a public record, the Commission will estimate the costs of complying with a request and obtain approval from the requester that the costs will be paid. The Commission may require written approval and prepayment of the estimated costs before proceeding. Excess costs, if any, will be refunded;
The Secretary may waive or reduce search, preparation, production and/or copying fees if she determines that the waiver or reduction is in the public interest;
Generally, requests for specific records by the news media and by other State of Maryland and local government agencies are considered to be in the public interest. Waiver or reduction of fees will be considered on a case-by-case basis; and
Repeated requests by the same person or entity for access to the Commission's records will be a factor in the Secretary's determination regarding waiver or reduction of fees.
In all cases, the relevant provisions of sections 10-611 through -628 of the State Government Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland and COMAR 13B.04.03 are applicable.
Date: March 23, 1998