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Thursday, February 6, 2014

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Board approves changes to rules and regulations

The University of Texas System Board of Regents approved changes to Regents’ Rules and Regulations addressing issues of transparency, accountability and access to information at a meeting on Thursday. Board Chairman Paul L. Foster directed UT System staff to provide information on other state agency governing boards’ policies regarding email accounts, and he indicated the proposal will be addressed at a future meeting.

Approved changes are as follows:

Rule 10801

This is a new rule titled Policy on Transparency, Accountability and Access to Information.

The purpose of the rule is to demonstrate the board’s commitment to providing transparency to the public to the fullest extent allowed by law, while ensuring protection of confidential information and personal privacy. It highlights that the UT System recognizes the importance of data collection for a variety of reasons and is continually working to remain a national leader in providing access to data. Already, the UT System Productivity Dashboard provides a decade’s worth of data (where available) on the performance of UT institutions and is available online to the public.

The rule outlines a specific process for regents’ requests for information, including:

  • Requests by an individual regent for information will be submitted to the chancellor. The chairman of the Board of Regents and the general counsel to the board will be copied on the request.
  • Requests that require compiling significant amounts of data will be reviewed by the chairman and chancellor. Discussions with the regent making the request may follow, both to ensure the request is appropriate in its scope to avoid inefficiencies and to make sure the request can be fulfilled in a timely matter.
  • Requests that should not require significant time and effort can be processed through the Board of Regents’ Office and the Chancellor’s Office.
  •  The Chancellor’s Office will respond to a regent’s request within 72 hours with an estimated date for delivery or production. UT System administration and institutional staff are expected to respond thoroughly and appropriately to requests from the board or the chancellor.

The rule also directs UT System Administration to look for ways to expand public access to information. In 2012, the UT System developed a web page that lists all Texas Public Information Act requests submitted to the System.  The Board expects that documents responsive to those requests also be made available electronically. A timeline for implementation will be developed by the chancellor in consultation with the chairman.

Rule 10101

An addition to this rule calls for information requests from regents to be processed under the guidance of new Rule 10801.

Rule 10403

Changes to this rule clarify who may speak on behalf of the Board of Regents or the UT System, particularly on controversial matters.  Generally, statements on controversial subjects will be made by the chairman of the Board of Regents or the UT System chancellor. An addition to the rule deems that, to the extent possible, regents will coordinate media contacts with the UT System Office of External Relations.

About The University of Texas System
Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking research and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States, with nine academic universities, six health institutions and a fall 2013 enrollment of more than 213,000. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public universities in Texas. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $14.6 billion (FY 2014) including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With more than 87,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

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