Responding to the Rise of Public Record Requests

The rise in public record request volume and complexity has led government agencies impacted by public record laws at all levels (local, state and federal), to re-examine their public record legislation.

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The U.S. Federal Reserve denies release of correspondence on pandemic trades made by policymakers

The U.S. Federal Reserve, responding to a Freedom of Information Act request by Reuters, said there are about 60 pages of correspondence between its ethics officials and policymakers regarding financial transactions conducted during the pandemic year 2020.

But it “denied in full” to release the documents, citing exemptions under the information act that it said applied in this case.

The disclosure of trading by two regional reserve bank presidents during the pandemic led them to resign last fall, and prompted Fed chair Jerome Powell to overhaul Fed ethics rules and request the central bank’s inspector general to investigate.

Gunita Singh, a staff attorney at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said the FOIA exemption cited by the Fed is meant to “protect agency candor” so U.S. government staff and officials can discuss issues freely as decisions are being made.

Read More | Reuters News

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Utah Lawmakers exempt media from public records fee proposal

Utah lawmakers on Tuesday [Feb. 8] amended a proposal that would allow local governments to charge additional fees for public record requests. The amendment allows exemptions for members of the media.

“The intention of this bill was never to stop the press from having their normal access,” said Rep. Dan Johnson, a Republican from Logan who sponsored the bill.

The original proposal would have allowed government agencies to impose additional fees on members of the public who request government records multiple times within a 10-day period.

It passed through the Utah House over opposition from Democrats, three Republicans and lobbyists for news organizations who argued that would have a “chilling effect” and discourage people from requesting records that they’re entitled to access under state and federal law.

An amendment passed through a Senate committee on Tuesday [Feb. 8] carves out an exception for members of the media, who can still request records under the existing fee structure.

Read More | U.S. News

Maryland lawmakers target Gov. Hogan’s self-destructing messages

Maryland Democratic lawmakers have introduced a bill meant to curtail the use by Gov. Larry Hogan of messages that self-destruct in 24 hours, or at least bring them further to light. They say it was sparked by recent revelations about the governor’s use of the app Wickr to communicate about a range of public issues with top aides and other state employees.

Transparency advocates say it is important that government communications and other records be accessible through freedom of information laws and handled with care, so that archivists, researchers and historians can document the operation of government for future generations.

The main provision of the new bill, called the Transparency in Public Records Act, would bring the governor’s office in line with state agencies required to set policies for how long different types of records must be kept. That would not necessarily stop the governor’s office from using Wickr. Most states, including Maryland, have yet to reckon with mobile apps that can destroy government communications before any determination of whether they should be public can be made.

Read More | Washington Post

Police-related bills designed to “shame,” or beef up Nebraska accountability?

Law enforcement agents did not see eye to eye Wednesday [Feb. 9] with promoters of public information over the question: Should Nebraska make public a list exposing police officer misconduct?

State Sen. Terrell McKinney of Omaha has introduced Legislative Bill 882, which he said was intended to ensure transparency and police accountability — not to “shame” sworn officers.

Currently, several who testified [on Feb. 9] said that law enforcement agencies already keep track of police officers accused of misconduct, and prosecutors are supposed to turn over a name to defense attorneys when relevant in a legal case.

McKinney’s bill would post such a list on websites accessible to the average person.

Some members raised concerns about unanswered questions, including how well the accusations have been vetted, how far back into an officer’s past the list might extend and what type of offenses would be included.

Read More | KMTV News Now


Form of harassment': York, Maine schools grapple with uptick in freedom of information requests

Voters will be asked to add tens of thousands of dollars to the school district’s budget to accommodate a rise in requests for school records and information.

Superintendent Lou Goscinski said the York School Department has already received more than twice as many Freedom of Access Act requests this school year than it did last year. He said nearly half of all the FOAA requests in York are directly or indirectly related to the district’s policies on equity, diversity and inclusion.

So far in the 2021-2022 school year, the district had received 24 FOAA requests, as of Friday, Feb. 4, Goscinski said. In the 2020-2021 school year, the district received 10 requests, he said.

Additionally, Goscinski said the cost of labor incurred by administrators responding to FOAA requests is a burden because schools are able to charge only $25 per hour, a standard rate under the Maine law, and the first two hours are free.

Read More | Seacoastonline News


Public Records Solutions Webinar: Response to Rising Requests for Video Files & Video Redaction

The introduction of body-worn cameras in recent years has resulted in a huge increase in video and audio records for many government agencies — particularly those in public safety.

Join GovQA on Thursday, February 17 at 1pm CST for the webinar Video Redactions: Solutions for growing volumes and time pressures. Here we’ll discuss the impact that body-worn cameras have had on public record request volumes; dive into the best practices for handling requests for video that needs redaction; and provide resources to help your organization combat the growing number of video redaction requests.

Learn more and Register for the Video Solutions Webinar

Read More | GovQA – Your Peer in Public Records

GovQA's Upcoming Events

GovQA’s hosts and moderates events to create and expand opportunities for state and local government agency members to discuss the challenges they face.

Clerks Public Records Virtual Roundtable

Public Records Solutions Webinar: Response to Rising Requests for Video Files & Video Redaction

FOIA Compliance in Education: Leveraging Stimulus Funds for Response Technology

California Public Records Small Group Virtual Roundtable

See All Upcoming Events

The Peers in Public Records Newsletter (formerly FOIA News) is a bi-monthly e-newsletter brought to you by GovQA. It is a collection of the latest trends in public record requests and government transparency initiatives, shared stories, informative case studies, and actionable knowledge that will help you calm the chaos and keep your organization compliant. Send your comments to

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