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Getting the goods JAWS 2014 Get records Continue to request public records. Request them long before you have to have them Think beyond documents Digging.

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Presentation on theme: "Getting the goods JAWS 2014 Get records Continue to request public records. Request them long before you have to have them Think beyond documents Digging."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Getting the goods JAWS 2014

3 Get records Continue to request public records. Request them long before you have to have them Think beyond documents Digging in

4 Try the informal approach first If they require a formal request, find out who it should go to and what you should ask for Describe what you’re asking for Request an itemized cost estimate (except TX) Provide all possible contact information Note that you’re willing to negotiate Ask for a fee waiver, expedited review Consider inspection rather than copies Make the ask

5 Know what you’re looking for. Know what they can charge you for records. Checking FOIA annual reports For state records, check prior court decisions, AG opinions Do your homework

6 Follow up on requests. Do not let a sleeping request lie. If you are denied, appeal. They don’t have to give you “information” – just records Federal FOIA doesn’t cover: Congress, courts, answers to questions, the President. Some of these are covered by other laws. Follow

7 Exemptions 1. National Security 2. Internal agency personnel rules 3. Info exempt under other laws 4. Trade secrets and confidential commercial info 5. Internal agency memoranda and policy discussions 6. Personal privacy

8 Exemptions 7. Law enforcement investigations 8. Federally regulated banks 9. Oil and gas wells

9 Just another way of saying no Huge costs Delay tactics “Oh, you silly little journalist” Sending you the wrong thing “Your request was unclear” HIPAA Privacy Privatization

10 Many are similar to FOIA – but differ as what organizations are covered, exemptions and procedures. Know the administrative appeal process, if one exists Get copies of blank forms Retention schedules Learn the paper trail of whatever process you’re investigating State Records

11 Massachusetts municipal records retention: te.ma.us/arc/arcpd f/MA_Municipal_R ecords_Retention _Manual.pdf te.ma.us/arc/arcpd f/MA_Municipal_R ecords_Retention _Manual.pdf

12 Turning No into Yes Be persistent Who else has the same records? Check retention schedules Ask for documentation for electronic records Write about it

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17 Negotiating: Some examples

18 Our database is on a mainframe and it’s very complicated, Missy

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20 We don’t have the authority to do that

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22 That will cost $25,000.

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24 We have processed your request. The labor cost for the request is as follows. Item # of hours RESEARCH 20 CREATING FILES 6 CODING24 TESTING 4 Total (54 X$72) = $3,888.00

25 Estimates and Waivers of Public Information Charges (a) A governmental body is required to provide a requestor with an itemized statement of estimated charges if charges for copies of public information will exceed $40, or if a charge in accordance with § of this title (relating to Access to Information Where Copies Are Not Requested) will exceed $40 for making public information available for inspection. A governmental body that fails to provide the required statement may not collect more than $40. The itemized statement must be provided free of charge and must contain the following information :

26 We only keep the information for 7 days

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28 That uses proprietary software.

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30 We don’t keep that on computer

31 Okay, we do, but it’s a lot of files

32 That information is protected by law

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39 Investigative Reporters and Editors – The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press: FOIA Machine Justice Department’s FOIA page (includes links to FOIA officials and annual reports) -- Resources


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