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2020 SURVEY: PEERS IN PUBLIC RECORDS

Are your priorities for 2020 in line with those of your peers?  

We’re conducting a brief survey to identify trends. Tell us what YOU think will be most important in 2020 — and we'll let you know what your peers thought too! 

Macro Trends Like:

  • Data Security?

  • Request Volume Increases? 

  • Elections and Voting?

Day-to-Day Issues Like:

  • Large Files Sizes?

  • Tracking Exemptions?

  • Cost Recovery?

Take the Survey >>>

FOIA HEADLINES
Reducing fees for Oregon’s public records is win for the people

Oregon Public Records Advocate Ginger McCall will be missed.

McCall leaves office today [Oct. 1] after resigning when the governor’s office wanted her to secretly work for the governor while giving the impression she was working in the public interest. Now, on her way out the door, she once again stood up for Oregonians in calling the high fees charged for public records a barrier to access.

This week McCall said fees charged for public records by the state of Oregon and local governments are extraordinarily high and wildly uneven, which block access to records and documents sought by citizens as well journalists.

She said the fees, which can reach $180 per hour, are onerous compared to the fees in other states and the federal government.

Read More | Union-Bulletin 

Survey

9/11: Poll Results

94% of FOIA News subscribers believe records related to an ongoing police investigation should be exempt from public record requests

Governor names [Wyoming's] first public records ombudsman
Ruth Van Mark was appointed Monday [Sept. 30] by Gov. Mark Gordon to be Wyoming’s first public records ombudsman.

She will mediate disputes between agencies and parties requesting information, determine if records are public or confidential and serve as a resource for public agencies that receive records requests.

“I am excited about the opportunity to assist Gov. Gordon in bringing Wyoming state government closer to the people,” Van Mark said in a news release.

The position was created with the passage earlier this year of Senate File 57, which clarified the process for requesting public records. The bill also requires government entities to designate a public records custodian and provide their contact information.

Read More | Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Research: What Colorado needs to do to preserve the modern public record

When state Sen. John Cooke asked for email communications of the top official for the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission last fall, the agency’s response stunned him.

“There are no records responsive to your request,” the health department’s legal compliance director wrote. “Mike Silverstein ended employment with the Department prior to your request and his email and network accounts had already been deleted.”

The Colorado Open Records Act doesn’t provide any meaningful guidance about the retention of public records. Although the law directs records custodians to adopt a policy regarding the retention, archiving and destruction of records kept “in miniaturized or digital form,” it doesn’t outline any specifications for such a policy.
Read More | Colorado Independent


Maryland agencies lack consistent policies, struggle to comply with public records requests, surveys show

State agencies in Maryland are struggling to handle thousands of public records requests from reporters, attorneys and other members of the public and lack consistent policies for complying with the state disclosure law, according to a survey by the state’s public access ombudsman.

Several of the 23 cabinet-level agencies that responded to the survey said they lacked policies for retaining certain kinds of records that are covered by the Maryland Public Information Act, such as emails and text messages, and many said they need more training and resources to meet the law’s retention and timely disclosure mandates.

The agencies reported receiving nearly 10,000 requests in fiscal 2019. Those that tracked their responses reported disclosing records in more than half of the requests, but denying records in many others and often failing to respond to requests within the time frame prescribed by the law. Agencies that received a large volume of requests said they were overwhelmed by the associated workload — and warned against any expanded disclosure requirements without attached funding.

Read More | Baltimore Sun 

LAWSUITS
Court order finds that [North Augusta, South Carolina], City Council violated FOIA

A decision has been made in a lawsuit against the city of North Augusta [SC] that claims the city violated the Freedom of Information Act during an action that allocated money toward the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam.

The complaint, filed by plaintiff Perry Holcomb in November 2018, stated the city violated FOIA when City Council amended a resolution on May 7, 2018. During a meeting that evening, Council unanimously passed an amendment that allocated funds to the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam as part of Capital Projects Sales Tax IV.

The order, filed on Oct. 8 and signed by presiding judge Clifton B. Newman, states that the defendants – the city, mayor and city council – did violate the Freedom of Information Act.

Read More | The North Augusta Star

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