Opinion Letter No. 08-02
July 28, 2008
Boards Created by Resolution
A Council member asked OIP for an advisory opinion
as to whether a task panel created by council resolution falls within
the definition of “board” under the Sunshine Law. OIP
opined that under a plain reading of the Sunshine Law’s definition
of “board,” a task panel or other body created by or
pursuant to a “resolution” of county (or state) government
generally does not fall within that definition.
However, OIP believes that a task panel or other body created by
a Sunshine Law board is subject to the Sunshine Law where circumstances
show that, by delegation of authority from that board, the panel
is in fact acting in place of that board on a matter that is the
official business of the board. These circumstances must be reviewed
on a case-by-case basis.
OIP reasoned that allowing a subordinate group of the Council to
meet in private to act on council business, which would otherwise
be determined at an open Council meeting, would contravene the Sunshine
Law’s policy and intent to allow the public to participate
in the Council’s formation of public policy.
This question initially arose in the context of the City Mass Transit
Technical Expert Panel created by Honolulu City Council resolution.
OIP did not specifically opine on the Panel because the Panel voluntarily
complied with the Sunshine Law.
However, OIP did use the Panel as an example of an instance in which
a resolution created panel would be subject to the Sunshine Law
because the resolution creating the panel delegated the Council’s
authority to make the final selection of a fixed guideway system.
OIP stated that the public had a preponderant interest in and expectation
to be officially heard early in the process on a Council decision
as important and far reaching as the choice of Honolulu’s
mass transit system.