Methodology

The records requester (“Auditor”), Richard P. McKee, Vice President for Open Government Compliance for Californians Aware, will personally appear at the main office of each of the 31 State agencies, as identified by the California Secretary of State’s Roster of Constitutional Officers, State Agencies, Departments, Boards, and Commissions, and ask to see the employee responsible for handling public record requests.

Part 1 – Once directed to that individual, the Auditor requests (a) to view the most recent Statement of Economic Interests Form 700 for and (b) to receive a copy of the agency’s Guidelines for Accessibility of Records.

He will also look to see whether the agency’s “guidelines for accessibility of records” are posted. He will record the time entering and leaving the office, any response to his requests, and any information that is requested from him.

Part 2 – An e-mail request for copies of the public records, as follows:

This is a public records request to the (insert state agency name)

If I have directed my request in error, I ask that you forward it to the Public Records Request Officer.

I ask to receive copies of the following documents:

1. The employment contract or a similar document that identifies the annual compensation of the (insert title of executive) of the(insert agency name);

2. The most recent litigation settlement agreement or court order in which the (insert agency name) was a party.

I understand there may be a fee for the duplication of these records and I promise to pay that fee when I pick-up the copies. If possible, I ask to receive these records as attachments to a return e-mail.

When the copies are ready, or if other arrangements or clarification is needed, please contact me by return e-mail to: justinfine99@yahoo.com

Many thanks for your kind assistance, Justin Fine

The Auditor then records when the agency notifies him the documents are ready to be picked up, or when postmarked if he receives the records by mail.

All the information accumulated is then transferred to a computer file and the results tabulated.

All in-person contacts in this 31-agency audit were performed over three days: January 4, 5, & 6, 2011.

The e-mail requests (Part 2) were sent on January 10, 2011. Agencies not responding to the original e-mail were sent a second request a week later, which was also distributed to other e-mail addresses.

GRADES FOR STATE AGENCY PERFORMANCE

Before attempting to evaluate the quality of the responses of these State agencies to the requests for public records, the Auditor created a 100-point grading scale based upon point deductions for each failure to conform as commanded by the CPRA and Fair Political Practices Act, and also for exceeding reasonable times for producing the records requested. This grading system is the same used in the prior two audits and was developed by experiences from earlier audits of local agencies, which found oral requests for a Form 700 and a CEO employment contract were produced by a majority of those agencies within 30 minutes; one-third produced these records in 12 minutes or less.

Since Part 1 of this present State Audit requests to view records even less demanding (a FPPC Form 700 & the agency’s written Guidelines for records access), this auditor concluded that any time over 1 hour necessary to provide these documents was an excessive delay, and deserved a deduction.

Additionally, each failure to provide one of the 4 documents requested was given a 20-point deduction, with each unlawful request for information made of the auditor (his identity, affiliation, or reason for seeking the records; or that the request be made in writing or could be delayed), prior to being allowed to view the documents requested in Part 1, was given a 5-point deduction, up to a maximum of -10 points.

Finally, points were deducted for an agency’s failure to respond to the Part 2 e-mail request within the CPRA’s 10-day limit. And no credit was given for any document provided by an agency after 20 days.

Expectations of this Records Audit:

  1. Guidelines for Records Access – – – – – – – – – – – posted for public in agency’s main offices
  2. FPPC Form 700 provided for viewing & Guidelines for Records Access provided free – – – within 1 hour (without imposing any condition on or requesting any information from Auditor)
  3. Salary Document & Settlement provided – – – within 10 days

[table style=”1″]

 Grading Scale  Point Deductions (100 points possible)
100 = A+ Guidelines Not Posted in Agency Office = -10 pts
95 = A Each free Copy of Guidelines & Form 700 to view
90 = A- if provided within:1 hour of the request = -0 pts
85 = B+ > 1 hour to 1 day of request = -5 pts
80 = B > 1 – 5 days of request = -10 pts
75 = B- > 5 – 10 days of request = -15 pts
70 = C+ > 10 days or not at all = -20 pts
65 = C Conditions Imposed on Auditor (-5 for each) = -20 pts
60 = C- Request for Identity, Affiliation, or Why
55 = D+ Records Being Sought; told Request must be
50 = D in Writing; or told Agency could delay review = -10 pts (max)
45 = D- – – – – – – – – – – – – –
40 = F+ Each Salary Document or Settlement Agreement
35 = F Provided – within 10 days = -0 pts
<35 = F- within 11-20 days = -10 pts
> 20 days or not at all = -20 pts

[/table]

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