The Voice • September 2016

The Washington State Auditor’s Office took survey from an array of government agencies to determine what the cost was to fulfill the public records requests statewide. The findings indicated that for agencies to deliver the requests, while keeping compliance with public record laws, cost the state more than $60 million over a twelve month period. Since the survey is based on a variety of findings, it is safe to assume that not all public record requests are accounted for, which would in turn make the final cost much higher than the predicted $60 million. The majority (90%) of this cost was from “the staff time needed to locate, review, redact and prepare public records for release.” [1]

The report offered a few solutions to decrease the incurring cost to the state. One suggestion in particular made by the report was to alter public record legislation and allowing for governments to charge a higher price to compensate for the overall cost of fulfilling the requests. “Our research shows that a combination of statewide policy changes and better information management and disclosure practices are needed to keep pace with changing times.” [1]