FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Ernie Hearion,

 

Complainant,

 

against Docket #FIC 88-459

 

Chrysalis Center, Inc.,

 

Respondent June 28, 1989

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 4, 1989, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.

 

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:

 

1. By letter dated November 15, 1988, the complainant requested the respondent provide him with access to:

 

a. the respondent's line item budget for the last audited fiscal year;

 

b. all policies, procedures and criteria used for admitting clients to the respondent's socialization and vocational programs;

 

c. documentation of the professional qualifications of those individuals directly responsible for applying the criteria;

 

d. documentation of the time spent by the Intake-Case Manager on each of the manager's two different duties;

 

e. the Intake-Case Manager's caseload, broken down according to each program;

 

f. and information on the relationship between the program cost center and the Intake-Casemanager Worker.

 

2. By letter dated November 22, 1988, and filed November 23, 1988, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging the respondent failed to respond to his request.

 

Docket #88-459 Page Two

 

3. The respondent claims it provided the complainant with all the relevant records it could find and that, in any event, it is not a public agency and not subject to the open records provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

 

4. As to whether the respondent was created by government, the following facts are found:

 

a. The respondent was started informally by private individuals in the 1950's who met weekly to socialize in a suppportive group after being patients in Norwich Hospital.

 

b. In 1975 four private individuals incorporated the respondent, then named the Greater Hartford Social Club, as a non-profit charitable organization and the respondent then began seeking and receiving funds from private foundations and donations.

5. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondent was not created by government.

 

6. As to whether the respondent is funded by government, the following facts are found:

 

a. The respondent currently receives 83% of its funds in the form of grants from the state's Department of Mental Health (DMH), a percentage that has steadily increased in recent years.

 

b. The respondent receives additional funds for its program for the developmentally disabled from the state's Department of Education.

 

c. The respondent receives the remainder of its funds from United Way, revenue generated by programs, and private contributions.

 

7. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondent receives most of its funding from the state government.

 

8. As to whether the respondent is regulated by government, the following facts are found:

 

a. When DMH awards a grant to the respondent, the standard DMH form for the award details the conditions under which the funds are given.

 

b. The first such condition requires the respondent to comply with all the DMH's regulations adopted under the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act.

 

Docket #FIC 88-459 Page Three

 

c. Next the DMH requires the respondent to acknowledge in all its public communications the DMH's support and submit proof it is doing so.

 

d. The respondent also must act in compliance with Title XX of the Social Security Act so that the state funds it receives qualify for federal reimbursement to the DMH.

 

e. The DMH requires the respondent to comply with all state and federal non-discrimination laws and to provide the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities any information required to comply with 4-144a, G.S., and its amendments.

 

f. The DMH's award also subjects the respondent to the Governer's Executive Orders ##3 and 17 and gives both the DMH and the state labor commissioner jurisdiction over the respondent's performance of the contract as it relates to those executive orders.

 

g. The respondent must first serve patients discharged from state hospitals or extended care facilities operated under contract with DMH, before serving private patients.

 

h. The respondent must report every admission and discharge to the DMH, on DMH approved forms.

 

i. If the respondent receives funding from another source for a DMH-funded program, it must so inform the DMH within 10 days.

 

j. If the respondent wants to alter any of its DMH-funded programs, it must first obtain the DMH's approval.

 

k. If the respondent's budget changes more than certain minimal amounts, it must notify the DMH.

 

l. The respondent must give the DMH access to records of the DMH-funded programs at any reasonable time.

 

m. The respondent must provide the DMH with an audit prepared by an independent auditor to account to the DMH for the state-provided funds. In addition, the state auditors have access to all the books and records of the respondent, and the respondent is required to hold onto its financial records for 3 years to allow for such access.

 

n. The respondent must provide the DMH with quarterly financial reports and certain statistical reports.

 

Docket #FIC 88-459 Page Four

 

o. Above a certain minimal amount, the respondent may not sub-contract the services it contracts to provide for the DMH without the DMH's approval.

 

p. The respondent must return to the DMH any surplus it has at the end of the fiscal year, proportionate with the funds it receives from the DMH.

 

q. The respondent must participate in the DMH's Management Information System by timely submitting forms for the system.

 

r. The contract for each DMH-funded program the respondent runs also details exactly what and how services are to be provided in that program. For example, the contract for the respondent's residential program prohibits the respondent from discharging a resident to a shelter for the homeless.

 

s. If the respondent wants to terminate a program funded by the DMH, it must first give the department 30 days notice.

 

t. The DMH's Advisory Board reviews the quality of the respondent's programs every three years. The review includes completion of a questionnaire, on-site inspections, and specific recommendations for improvements.

 

u. Since almost all the programs the respondent provides are funded by DMH, almost all of them are subject to these DMH regulations.

 

9. The Commission takes administrative notice of 17-226b and 17-226e, G.S., which also regulate the relationship between the respondent and the DMH.

 

10. It is concluded that the respondent is regulated by government to a significant extent.

 

11. As to whether the respondent performs a governmental function:

 

a. the federal Community Mental Health Act of 1972 requires the state to provide the services of psychosocial rehabilitation centers like the respondent as a condition of receiving federal grants;

 

b. and it is found that if the respondent did not provide the services it currently supplies to the DMH the state would have to provide such services through some alternate source.

 

Docket #FIC 88-459 Page Five

 

12. Thus it is concluded that the respondent performs a governmental function to the extent that it provides services for the DMH, which are significant.

 

13. It is concluded therefore that, as to those programs the respondent provides to the DMH, the respondent is a public agency for Freedom of Information Act purposes.

 

14. It is found that the records requested by the complainant are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.

 

15. It is found that the respondent did provide the complainant with a good deal of the records he requested.

 

16. It is found that after a good faith search the respondent's executive director was unable to find recorded statistics for all the years for which the complainant wanted records.

 

17. It is also found that to locate additional records the respondent would have to undertake outside research not required by the Freedom of Information Act.

 

18. The Commission notes that those records the respondent does not have should be available to the complainant from the DMH.

 

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

 

1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.

 

2. The Commission reminds the respondent that it meets the criteria to be a public agency for Freedom of Information Act purposes with respect to the services it provides for the DMH and is, therefore, subject to the open records requirements of the Act for that purpose.

 

Docket #FIC88-459 Page 6

 

PURSUANT TO 4-180(c) C.G.S THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE F.O.I.C., OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.

 

THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:

ERNIE HEARION, 49 Niles Street, Apt. 3-2A, Hartford, CT 06105

 

CHRYSALIS CENTER, INC., c/o Mark K. Ostrowski, Esquire,

Shipman & Goodwin, 799 Main Street, Hartford, CT 06103-2377

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 28, 1989.

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission