Sunday, November 11, 2012

Part of FOIA process may be outsourced

At least 25 federal agencies are outsourcing part of the Freedom of Information process, according to an article on

As a citizen who has a right to access those documents promptly, does this concern you? Leave a comment below.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Almost 80% of school districts pass FOI test with flying colors

About half of Connecticut’s 149 public school districts responded within 24 hours to the Freedom of Information request seeking copies of school superintendent contracts.
The New Haven Register, The Middletown Press and TheRegister Citizen newspapers are gathering all school chief contracts for the state in order to build a searchable database. We also decided to also test the responsiveness of each district under FOI law with the project.
The state’s Freedom of Information Act requires a response within four days, but this can be just a confirmation of receiving the request and an estimated time frame for when the documents will be provided. If no response is given by the fourth business day, it is automatically considered a denial and the requester may file a complaint with the state’s Freedom of Information Commission.
Our test showed that 119 school districts out of 149 passed with flying colors. In fact, those school districts did not only respond within the required four days, but had also delivered the contracts within that time frame.
Seventy-three school districts delivered the contracts within 24 hours, and 30 of those actually sent them in the same day. The fastest were Wolcott (12 minutes), Meriden (25 minutes) and Preston (30 minutes).
The slowest response was from the Torrington school district (28 business days), where a reporter had asked for the contract before we started requesting copies from other districts, and had also asked for multiple contracts in addition to the superintendent’s. An FOI response can vary depending on how many documents the agency has to provide and how long it might take to put them together.
Shelton and Region 13 (Coginchaug) each took 18 business days to provide their contracts, but Shelton was in the process of revising its contract with the superintendent and it had not been signed by the time we first requested it. The Torrington contract copy we received was also not signed and dated until the day after we received the copy.
As of Nov. 9, we were still waiting for contracts from Bridgeport, Brookfield, Stamford and Region 19, which were requested between Oct. 11 and Oct. 18.
We had asked for the contracts to be delivered electronically, like in a PDF file, and for the district to waive the cost associated with the request. Under FOI law, a municipality can charge up to 50 cents per page for paper copies of a contract.
Two districts – Region 5 (Amity) and Naugatuck – requested that we pick up the contracts in person and charged us for the copies. We paid Amity $7.50 and Naugatuck $8 for a total project cost of $15.50. All other districts waived the fee, including the seven districts that sent the contracts in via postal mail (Newington, Portland, Farmington, Watertown, Simsbury, Waterford and Region 11).
Two school districts faxed their contracts (Brooklyn and Voluntown) and one superintendent (Sprague) dropped off a contract in person at our office.
Another two districts (Glastonbury and Norwalk) had the superintendent contracts available online on the school district websites.
Click here for alphabetical list of all the contracts.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Register Citizen files FOI complaint about special Board of Education meeting

The Register Citizen newspaper on Wednesday filed a complaint with the state's Freedom of Information Commission claiming a recent special meeting held by the Torrington Board of Education was not publicized 24 hours prior to the meeting. Read story about it and the background information HERE. BOE Agenda