Government transparency laws are designed to make sure the government gives you what it’s obligated to give you, even if those documents may be embarrassing or may get someone fired. Recently though, government agencies have been using a new tool to keep documents a secret. That tool is money.
public records fees
When a government agency wants $5,850 to fulfill a request made under the Colorado Open Records Act, is it effectively denying access to those records?
Obtaining public records in Colorado could soon get a bit more expensive. Beginning Monday, July 1, state and local government entities will be allowed to charge a maximum of $33.58 an hour – after the first hour – to fulfill requests made under the Colorado Open Records Act.
The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition honored state Sen. John Kefalas for his work in the legislature to expand Coloradans’ access to public records.
An 18-month push to update Colorado’s open-records law for the digital age culminated in the final passage of a bill that clarifies the public’s right to copies of electronic government records in useful file formats that permit analysis of information in those records.
More than five months after her initial request, Marilyn Flachman is finally getting the employee salary information she requested from the Westminster school district. It took four CORA letters, assistance from an attorney and $745.
The Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act isn’t as well known or as well understood as its sister statute, the Colorado Open Records Act. That’s why the CFOIC assembled a panel of experts to discuss the law that governs the release of criminal justice records – and to provide tips and workarounds for getting the records you want.
For the CFOIC, revisiting 2014 reveals a somewhat troubling string of stories about issues and problems affecting government transparency in Colorado. Consider them one by one and you might not be all that concerned. But put them in a list and you could reasonably conclude that open government in the Centennial State is still a work in progress.
Public records aren’t supposed to be prohibitively expensive – that was the goal of a new state law capping research-and-retrieval fees. So we were surprised to see a $2,440 estimate to review records from a special district in Falcon.
A 2013 report illustrated the confusing and expensive landscape of “research and retrieval” fees charged to CORA requestors by various state, county and municipal government entities. One year later, Colorado Ethics Watch and CFOIC have revisited those same government entities to see if things have improved.