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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

PAC Finds State Agency in Violation of FOIA

Just a few days before the end of the year, the Public Access Counselor issued its 15th binding opinion for 2015. 

In  PAC Op. 15-015, the PAC found in favor of the public body - JUST KIDDING!  The PAC found the Governor's Office of Management and Budget, a state agency, in violation of FOIA when it denied the SEIU's request for a copy of a PowerPoint presentation that described budget policy. 

The GOMB had denied the request based on section 7(1)(f) of FOIA, claiming it was a record "in which opinions are expressed, or policies or actions are formulated." The GOMB explained that the slides provided recommendations to the hired analysts on how best to go about their vital role of gathering and analyzing budget information. The PAC rejected these arguments, finding that the slides were more in the nature of general policy considerations and did not reflect the "give and take of any deliberative process" concerning the budget. As a result, the PAC ordered the GOMB to release the slides to the union. 

Although the opinion was not favorable for public bodies, it does provide some guidance on how the PAC interprets the deliberative process exemption in 7(1)(f) - very narrowly.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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