FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Martha Stone, Risa Evans and Connecticut Civil Liberties Union Foundation,
against Docket #FIC 91-202
State of Connecticut Department of Correction,
Respondent January 8, 1992
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 10, 1991, at which time the complainants 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. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter filed with the Commission on July 22, 1991, the complainants alleged that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information Act by denying them access to records after their follow-up request letter dated July 10, 1991.
3. It is found that by letter dated June 10, 1991, the complainants requested of the respondent any transitional plans the respondent had developed to make its programs accessible to physically disabled prisoners under 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and 45 C.F.R. 84.22(e).
4. It is found that by letter dated July 2, 1991, the respondent's attorney notified the complainants that the matter had been referred to him.
5. It is found that by letter dated July 10, 1991, the complainants renewed their original request.
6. It is found that by letter dated July 11, 1991, the respondent denied the complainants' request for records.
Docket # FIC 91-202 Page 2
7. At the hearing on this matter, the complainants requested the imposition of civil penalties against the commissioner of the respondent department because the complainants had to make repeated requests for the information they are seeking.
8. It is found that the respondent did not comply promptly with the complainants' request as required under 1-15, G.S.
9. The complainants asserted the transitional plan they seek should exist because it is required by law.
10. The respondent claimed that although a transitional plan may have been required of a recipient of federal funds making structural changes to its buildings, there are alternative forms of compliance and, accordingly, such a plan may not, in fact, exist.
11. Furthermore, the respondent claimed to have made a diligent search for the requested records and was unable to establish their existence.
12. The complainants asserted that the respondent's search efforts were insufficient because the respondent failed to interview each of its employees and failed to investigate whether records of other state agencies contained such a plan if instituted on a statewide level.
13. It is found that a Mr. Cambria, an employee of the respondent and currently its Director of Offender Classification, was acting as Director of Programs and Treatment ("DPT") during the operative time period of the complainants' request.
14. It is found that Mr. Cambria conducted the original search for the requested records on behalf of the DPT and thereafter continued with this project, personally following through with it.
15. It is found that Mr. Cambria took the following measures in search of the requested transitional plan records:
a. he contacted the respondent's engineering services department because that is the unit of the respondent responsible for structural changes to buildings;
b. he contacted the respondent's affirmative action office because it could be knowledgeable about plans to enhance handicapped persons' access to the respondent's buildings;
Docket # FIC 91-202 Page 3
c. he contacted the Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services whose responsibility could conceivably involve familiarity with any such transitional
d. he contacted the Chief of Program Development whose responsibility could also conceivably involve familiarity with any such transitional plans.
16. It is found that none of the departments, offices or officials identified in paragraphs 15a-15d, above, were aware of the existence of the requested transitional plan.
17. It is also found that the Chief of Program Development suggested to Mr. Cambria that it was conceivable that such a plan could have been undertaken on a statewide level by the
State Department of Public Works rather than by the respondent.
18. It is found that although Mr. Cambria did not personally contact the Department of Public Works as part of his search for the requested records, as of the date of the hearing in this matter, the respondent's attorney had done so without result.
19. It is concluded, nonetheless, that the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act do not require one public agency to inquire into the existence of public records kept by other public agencies.
20. It is also concluded that under the facts of this case, Mr. Cambria was not obligated to contact each and every employee of the respondent in order to conduct a diligent search of the respondent's records.
21. It is further concluded that Mr. Cambria did conduct a diligent search of the respondent's records for those records sought by the complainants although his efforts failed to produce documentation responsive to the complainants' request.
22. The Commission, in its discretion, declines to impose a civil penalty.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
Docket # FIC 91-202 Page 4
1. Henceforth, the respondent shall comply promptly to requests for copies of public records as required under 1-15, G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 8, 1992.
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket # FIC 91-202 Page 5
PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S. THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.
THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:
Attorney Martha Stone
Connecticut Civil Liberties Union Foundation
32 Grand Street
Hartford, CT 06106
State of Connecticut, Department of Correction
c/o Assistant Attorney General Margaret Quilter Chapple
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission