Opinion: Public documents warrant 21st century approach

The Westminster Window: Public documents that are created and compiled by tax-supported entities such as school districts, municipalities and counties should be easily accessible for the public, newspapers and other interested groups.

Obviously, confidential information such as employee personnel records is an exception to this statement. In Colorado, we have what is known as CORA or the Colorado Open Records Act, which addresses the public’s right to access documents and compiled data. While there are exceptions to this mandate, such as “attorney-client privileged information,” most information is accessible.

CORA was enacted by the state Legislature in 1969. As we know, computers and electronic-formatted documents, spreadsheets and the like have exploded in quantity for both public and private organizations since this time. While microfilm and microfiche were state-of-the-art back then, digital data has swept by these former modes of storing and retrieving documents and data.

However, CORA has not kept up with the changing times as far as clear and concise wording that requires taxing entities to provide digitized records in useful formats to the public. Senate Bill 40 would update CORA and make the law truly a 21st century law. Formatting of the requested record is a key consideration.

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