Thursday, June 2, 2011

State refuses to release preliminary documents

The Bluegrass Institute recently appealed the denial of an open records request to the Attorney General's office. These requests were sent to the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet. You can read more about the appealed requests here.

Among a variety of senseless reasons for the denial was the fact that the Cabinet felt "all related documents are preliminary in nature and therefore exempt from disclosure under the Open Records Act pursuant to KRS 61.878(1)(i) and (j)."

It is certainly true that the statute reads that way. You can read for yourself here.

But this does bring up a question: should preliminary drafts, documents, and correspondence be subject to open records requests? It certainly seems like all these items could provide crucial insight into how decisions are made. Open records laws in Kentucky are a good start but they could certainly be improved.

What do you think?


Richard Innes said...

This blog raises a good point.

Especially after a final decision has been reached, background documents should become part of the public record and access should be routinely available.

Also, in situations where an agency is unduly delayed in reaching a decsions, documents should become open to the public. Otherwise, agencies can use this as a ruse to unduly delay decisions of importance to the commonwealth. Perhaps a year would be an appropriate threshold for an automatic public disclosure rule for most documents.

Anonymous said...

What does the state government have to hide?

Logan said...

@Richard: Great point regarding delayed decisions. The public deserves to know why decisions aren't made in a timely manner.

@Anon 9:39: Exactly! Why not put these documents out for release if there is nothing to hide!

Anonymous said...

Transparency in Kentucky is a joke! It a great thing to talk about BUT try getting anything that might show elected officials 'misspoke'.

Turn in an open records request and see who responds - an attorney! Look at the Herald Leader and Courier Journal fights to get at state data WITH their attorneys.

It is clear the folks in Frankfort have totally lost track that it is OUR money they are spending. If they are supposedly doing our business, then what are they hiding?

Let's contact our legislators and lobby for funding to provide lawyers for all Kentuckians that simply want information about what and how state paid employees are spending OUR money.

Now that might work - state employees understand lobbying.