Monday, March 21, 2011

Governor Herbert's "New GRAMA" Requirements Already Met By At Least One State.....

I've scoured the internet, and I have found a solution to Governor Herbert's problem.

In his press release this morning, Governor Herbert said:

Any modifications to GRAMA must meet three principles. First, they must protect the public's right to know, as transparent and accountable government is essential. Second, they must protect every individual's legitimate right to privacy. Third, they must protect taxpayers against the cost of overreaching "fishing expeditions."

Given that two members of the HB477 Working Group read my blog, I want to share what I found.

There is a state that has a great Open Records law on the books. I think it will meet all of Gary Herbert's requirements:

1 "[T}hey must protect the public's right to know, as transparent and accountable government is essential."

From the law:

(1) In enacting this act, the Legislature recognizes two constitutional rights:
(a) the public's right of access to information concerning the conduct of the public's business; and
(b) the right of privacy in relation to personal data gathered by governmental entities.
(2) The Legislature also recognizes a public policy interest in allowing a government to restrict access to certain records, as specified in this chapter, for the public good.
(3) It is the intent of the Legislature to:
(a) promote the public's right of easy and reasonable access to unrestricted public records;
(b) specify those conditions under which the public interest in allowing restrictions on access to records may outweigh the public's interest in access;
(c) prevent abuse of confidentiality by governmental entities by permitting confidential treatment of records only as provided in this chapter;
(d) provide guidelines for both disclosure and restrictions on access to government records, which are based on the equitable weighing of the pertinent interests and which are consistent with nationwide standards of information practices;
(e) favor public access when, in the application of this act, countervailing interests are of equal weight; and
(f) establish fair and reasonable records management practices.

2. "[T]hey must protect every individual's legitimate right to privacy."

This bill contains four sections pertaining to privacy. It has one section pertaining to what is a record that must be disclosed (which also in itself contains an exemption).

3. "[T]hey must protect taxpayers against the cost of overreaching "fishing expeditions."

(1) A governmental entity may charge a reasonable fee to cover the governmental entity's actual cost of providing a record. This fee shall be approved by the governmental entity's executive officer.
(2) (a) When a governmental entity compiles a record in a form other than that normally maintained by the governmental entity, the actual costs under this section may include the following:
(i) the cost of staff time for compiling, formatting, manipulating, packaging, summarizing, or tailoring the record either into an organization or media to meet the person's request;
(ii) the cost of staff time for search, retrieval, and other direct administrative costs for complying with a request; and
(iii) in the case of fees for a record that is the result of computer output other than word processing, the actual incremental cost of providing the electronic services and products together with a reasonable portion of the costs associated with formatting or interfacing the information for particular users, and the administrative costs as set forth in Subsections (2)(a)(i) and (ii).
(b) An hourly charge under Subsection (2)(a) may not exceed the salary of the lowest paid employee who, in the discretion of the custodian of records, has the necessary skill and training to perform the request.

And that's just part of the section on fees.

And, the law that we should model our new law on has a great name: "Government Records Access and Management Act."

Sounds good, doesn't it?

And the state where this law is in effect?


Read the bill here.

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