The State Public Records Act is subject to revisions year on year since it’s inception in 1972 by state lawmakers. Those revisions see opposition from advocates. However 2017 the lawmakers will have added weight to their revisions aided by The Washington State Auditor. That being a recent survey around the costs of disclosure within local and state government. The survey which was mulled over in September following completion has drawn some pessimism and praise. Revisions detail the burdensome costs in responses to mass public records disclosure in these digital times. However advocates claim gaps and the reports methodology put forward a distorted impression.
The complaints by agencies are dismissed as the obligation is to no more than comply with the PRA. The study was to highlight the obstacles of legislature not agencies resistance or dogma. A more upbeat picture was painted to a collective of Senate and House members of both parties. Public records disclosure were deemed to have increased in complexity and this was directly correlated to increasing costs. However what was perhaps seen as somewhat as a smokescreen was the reference to reporters and media organizations. Whereas factually only 3% of requests originated from the media. State and Local agencies that responded totalled 541. The cost in responding to public records requests was put at $60.9 million.
State law forbids governments from recovering costs and restricts the fees that an agency can charge for public records disclosure. However perhaps some sympathy can be found for smaller cities and local government. Some feedback from these respondents contend that the “everything on demand” requests devour their restricted budgets. A bill to increase fees and limit requests hit the rocks and eventually sank. The cost arrived at of $60.9 million was also met with some skepticism in that 382 government agencies failed to respond. The solution may well be seen as better records management as opposed to the increase of fees.
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