The Sunshine Grading Scale is the grading system Journal
Register Company Connecticut journalists use to grade public officials,
organizations and governmental bodies and their support of transparent
government within the state. Access to public records – which includes
promptness, accuracy, format and cost – is the main driver of the Sunshine
The more “sunshines” an agency receives, the more likely
they are to treat Freedom of Information and public records laws with care, and
*Opera singer clause – If the official or agency will
benefit heavily from turning over the records, they don’t deserve the extra
recognition. If, however, the records might
make them look bad and they follow specific guidelines, they get an added
How it works:
One Sunshine – A public official or agency has numerous
issues, excuses, complaints or refusals to public records, as outlined in the
Connecticut General Statutes; lacks in prompt delivery of requests or access.
It can indicate outrageous costs for public records. The only grade worse is
the dreaded Rainy Cloud.
Two Sunshines – The official or agency might comply, but be
hesitant, or provide incorrect records. Associated costs could be significantly
or unreasonably high for the costly print-outs. This grade is equivalent to a
D+ or C- in finger painting.
Three Sunshines – Congratulations! You’re average! This indicates turning over records correctly,
at little to no cost, in a timely fashion, as outlined in the Connecticut
General Statutes. The requested records have to be picked up in person, but
face no reluctance by staff in handing them over. Unfortunately, mediocrity in
transparency says a lot about this public outlet.
Four Sunshines –This level on the Sunshine Grading Scale
means the public official or agency turned over the records in a prompt manner
(before the four-day mark), OR did it within a reasonable timeframe and did it
electronically. If you’re e-mailing or zip-filing records to us, you deserve
Five Sunshines – The pinnacle of open government in
Connecticut. Not only is the public official or agency transparent, but even
albino bunnies would be jealous with how much Sunshine you can tolerate. The
records were turned over within a very prompt manner, electronically, at no
cost or complaint. You’re willing to hand almost everything – besides your
social security number and PIN – to a journalist or taxpayer and do it with a
smile. You’re a ray of sunshine in generally cloudy, rainy New England.