Events of 2020 Continue to Impact Public Record Access

The lasting impact of 2020’s events (the pandemic and civil unrest) on public records continue to unfold as governments look to address the rising number of transparency concerns related to police misconduct and Covid-19 records.

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Featured

Rhode Island passes statewide body camera funding law

A Senate bill introduced on June 16 to create a statewide body-worn camera program for police departments passed both the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rhode Island General Assembly website, and Gov. Dan McKee signed the bill into law on July 8.

According to the legislation, the attorney general and director of the Department of Public Safety, in consultation with the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association, shall promulgate the rules and regulations, subject to a public hearing.

Read More | Government and Technology News

Legislation

Bill aims to expand authority of Washington D.C. police oversight board, make officers’ discipline records public

Legislation proposed by the D.C. Council chairman would give District residents a greater say in police procedures governing the conduct of officers and would for the first time open their disciplinary records to the public.

It also would create a position in the Office of the D.C. Auditor to review internal police investigations, including those into fatal shootings by officers and other uses of force, and the handling of demonstrations. Action on the policing bill is not expected to begin until fall.

Read More | The Washington Post

No oversight of officials’ public, private emails in Estes Park, Colorado

While many Estes Park residents are aware of Town Board Policy 107 which details the rules surrounding the public posting of Town Board and Mayoral emails, far fewer are aware of a small list of keywords that can be used at the discretion of citizens and elected officials to hide emails from the public view.

There are five words that anyone can use in the subject line of an email (whether it is between a citizen and an elected official or between multiple elected officials) that will automatically hide that email and all replies hidden from public view.

The keywords are: private, confidential, work product, personnel, and personal.

Read More | Estes Park Trail Gazette

LITIGATION

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox is holding up COVID records release, lawsuit alleges

Gov. Spencer Cox is delaying access to public documents related to Utah’s COVID-19 response by requiring they be reviewed by his lawyers before being released, a new lawsuit contends.

Filed July 2 against the Utah Department of Health by Draper attorney Suzette Rasmussen, the suit alleges that a series of open records requests she filed between mid-March and mid-May tied to the state’s handling of the pandemic remain all but unfulfilled, well past deadlines set by state law.

Read More | The Salt Lake Tribune

Peer Resource

Polk County, IA Case Study: How GovQA Helps Streamline FOIA for Decentralized Governments

It was Fall of 2020 when Polk County, Iowa identified a need for an automated system to process their Public Records Requests. “Before GovQA, everything was happening on a piece of paper,” explains Shivani Sehgal, Polk County Sr. Project Manager, on identifying some of the issues the large, decentralized county was experiencing. “Directing the record request to the correct department/office; releasing the record request in a timely manner; having an audit trail – these were all challenges for Polk County. It’s difficult at times to track a document from a file cabinet. However, with GovQA, we can have record request documents/communications in one system with audit trails.”

Read More | GovQA

GovQA's Upcoming Events

GovQA regularly hosts and moderates roundtables and webinars with partners, associations, customers, and other subject matter experts to create and expand opportunities for state and local government agency members to discuss the challenges they face.

Reserve Your Virtual Seat: Department of Transportation Roundtable

Sheriffs’ Association of Texas 143rd Annual Training Conference & Expo

Webinar: Responding to Video/Audio Public Record/OPRA Requests in New Mexico/Colorado

Webinar: Responding to Video/Audio Public Record Requests in Maryland/Connecticut

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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 peers@govqa.com.

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