Sunshine Week Discussion Highlights Access Complaints

A Sunshine Week discussion co-hosted by ICOG elicited concerns about several emerging access issues that warrant ongoing attention.

ICOG co-hosted a small group discussion on access issues in March in Indianapolis and learned a few interesting tidbits from those attending:

–The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is at the forefront of state agencies in digitizing all records. Questions were raised, however, about the retention of the massive amounts of paper records the agency keeps—everything from inspections to enforcement actions—and whether online information would carry as much rich information as the paper records.

–The Indiana State Police are working with a private vendor to post accident reports online. But the purchase fee has increased from $3 to $12 for an individual record purchased by a citizen. Plus, state police were told to push the distribution of online access only in order to make more money. The vendor’s name? Buycrash.com.

–The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has some committees working on drought policies in Indiana, but has been slow to post notice of meetings or to encourage public participations.

All complaints raised about state agencies at this program were directed to Karen Davis, Indiana’s Public Access Counselor.

This discussion was part of the annual Sunshine Week observance held in tandem with events around the country sponsored by OpenTheGovernment.org. For more information on the 30 cities where sunshine events were hosted this year, check out OTG’s schedule for the complete list. ICOG, along with the Indiana Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, hosted the only program in Indiana.

Thanks to Tom Davies and Keith Robinson at the Associated Press (Keith is also ICOG’s interim president) for coordinating the program.