‘Philosophical disagreement’ on open records pits CU against CORA supporters

Daily Camera (Boulder): Proponents of a bill intended to make Colorado public records easier to analyze fear the University of Colorado is manipulating the bill to make records more difficult to obtain.

Senate Bill 40 concerns public access to government files, or the Colorado Open Records Act. The bill’s original intent is to ensure digital records requested are provided in a searchable format.

For example, if a member of the public wants to see a public database, they could receive that file in a format such as an Excel spreadsheet that would allow them to analyze the data rather than a PDF document, which just shows a static printout of the data.

“The whole idea is that the public should be able to understand the records as much as possible,” said Jeff Roberts, executive director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition. “If you’re talking about a database of public records, sometimes those can be thousands or hundreds of thousands of records long, or even a million, and you need to be able to analyze that. So if you get a printout of that, it’s not so easy. If you get a PDF of it, it’s not so easy.”

After the bill failed last year, the secretary of state organized a working group consisting of stakeholders, such as media ethics organizations and governmental bodies, to hash out a compromise. The group met all summer and through the fall, Roberts said, and got the bill through the Senate.

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