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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - State agency responses slow to IndyStar public record requests

From the "Behind Closed Doors" column in the Sunday Indianapolis Star, this item [ILB emphasis added]:

Indiana’s leaders often say they want government to run “at the speed of business,” fast and efficient and responsive to the public.

But sometimes it doesn’t work out that way for reporters uncovering unflattering things about an agency.

The Indiana Department of Transportation recently took nearly three months to email a list of property records to The Indianapolis Star, and only after a reporter complained to the Indiana Public Access Counselor.

In January, The Star asked INDOT for a digital list that would show how much INDOT paid per acre for properties along the new I-69 route.

The request came as The Star was uncovering questions about land sales involving INDOT Chief of Staff Troy Woodruff and family members.

On March 1, The Star sent a follow-up letter to INDOT’s public records program director, Amy Miller, asking for an update on when the list might be released. She never responded.

So The Star asked Indiana Public Access Counselor Joseph Hoage to issue an opinion on the legality of the delay.

The list of properties — in an unsearchable PDF document — arrived just before Hoage issued his opinion last week.

Hoage ruled that the delay was unreasonable under Indiana law. He said the agency couldn’t offer a credible explanation for why it didn’t cough up the list earlier. Hoage also chided INDOT for not responding to The Star’s requests for updates.

Last week, The Star asked Miller for an update on another request — one that has been in the works since December. The Star also asked for an easier-to-search digital list of the properties.

We’re awaiting a response.

ILB: Here is the PAC response to "Informal Inquiry 13-INF-18; Indiana Department of Transportation," referenced above, issued April 15th.

The ILB is making an inquiry re the meaning of the phrase "an unsearchable PDF document" (highlighted above).

[More] Here is the answer re the PDF quality from the Star reporter: "We asked for an Excel file. They sent a terribly scanned PDF that our converters can't digitize."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 21, 2013 06:17 PM
Posted to Indiana Government