The governor issued an executive order Thursday to promote transparency in the state government.
According to a statement from her office, Gov. Kay Ivey signed Executive Order 734, “Promoting Transparency in State Government Through Enhanced Accessibility to Public Records,” delivering on her inaugural commitment to ensure state government works with even greater efficiency, accountability and transparency.
“From day one, a top priority of mine was to restore our people’s faith in their state government,” said Ivey. “Today, I am still every bit as committed to leading a state government that Alabamians can be proud of – one that is open, honest and transparent.
“Access to public records is essential to guaranteeing transparency in government, and I am proud to sign this executive order that improves this process as a whole.”
The executive order requires agencies make the changes to implement the requirements by April 26.
Changes to streamline the public records requests include:
- Requires all executive-branch agencies to establish a public records page on their website that includes a public records request form and a contact for assistance with public records requests.
- Establishes improved response times based on the type of public records request being made: A standard request – a public records request that seeks one or more clearly identified documents that the agency determines would take less than 8 hours of staff time to process. The response time from the agency will be within 15 days. A time-intensive request – a public records request the agency determines would take more than 8 hours of staff time to process, perhaps because the request itself is vague or overly broad or because substantial efforts will be required to locate documents or redact legally protected information. The agency will be prepared to provide a substantive response fulfilling or denying the request within 45 business days.
- Establishes a uniform fee schedule by providing that no per-page fee be charged for records provided electronically. Document retrieval and preparation – The agency may charge the requester up to $20 per hour, including a standard, minimum fee of $20 for time spent locating, retrieving and preparing records for production. Per-page fees – The agency may charge a per-page fee of up to $.50 for copies produced on standard 8 1/2 by 11 paper. This fee is not applicable for documents provided electronically. Actual cost – The agency may also charge any actual costs incurred in processing a public records request if the requester is informed of the cost in advance of being charged. For example, the requester may be charged for a flash drive or other hardware necessary for electronically producing records, for special paper sizes and for costs associated with searching electronic databases.
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