FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

FINAL DECISION
Docket #FIC 1996-295
May 28, 1997

In the Matter of a Complaint by Lorenzo Lilly, Complainant(s)
against
Personnel Department, City of Hartford and Department of Public Works, City of Hartford, Respondent(s)

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 6, 1997, at which time the complainant and respondents appeared 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

2. It is found that in March 1996 the complainant took the test for the position of maintenance mechanic ("position") with the city of Hartford ("city"), and even though he was ranked number one among those applicants certified as eligible for the position, he was not selected.

3. It is found that on or about July 15, 1996 the complainant made a written request to the respondent personnel department and an oral request ("July requests") to the respondent Department of Public Works ("DPW") for: a) the reason that he was not chosen for the position, and b) information describing the selection process for the position.

4. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on July 23, 1996, the complainant alleged that the respondents failed and refused to respond to, or comply with, his July requests.

5. The respondents contend that the complainant’s July requests were not requests for records, and even if they had been records requests, there were no documents to provide with respect to the complainant’s request for the reason that he was not selected for the position.

6. In relevant part, 1-15(a), G.S., provides that "any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.

7. Section 1-19(a), G.S., in relevant part provides that:

… all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law … shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15.

8. It is found that the complainant’s request for a statement of the reason that he was not selected for the position does not constitute a request for records within the meaning of 1-15(a) or 1-19(a), G.S.

9. However, it is found that the complainant’s request for information describing the respondents’ selection process for the position reasonably constitutes a request for records maintained by the respondents which contain such information, and that any such records are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.

10. It is found that the city employs a "rule of 3" with respect to job vacancies whereby the names of the top three candidates qualified for the position are certified to the city department with the vacancy.

11. It is found that for the position at issue interviews of the eligible candidates were conducted by a DPW employee, and that notes from the interviews conducted were made by the DPW interviewer. At the hearing on this matter the respondents agreed to immediately provide the complainant with a copy of any such interview notes that they can locate.

12. It is found that the "rule of 3," and the interview notes are responsive to the complainant’s request for information pertaining to the interview process, and that the respondents violated 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to promptly provide the complainant with access to inspect or copy such records.

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

1. Within seven days of the date of mailing the notice of final decision in this case, the respondents shall provide the complainant with: a) a copy of the interview notes described in paragraph 11 of the findings, above, and b) a copy of any document describing the respondents’ selection process for the position, including the city’s "rule of 3", free of charge.

2. If the records described in paragraph 1 of the order, above, do not exist, or can not be located after a diligent search, then the respondents shall provide the complainant with an affidavit stating that despite a diligent search, no such documents can be found.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 28, 1997.

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission

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:

Lorenzo Lilly
44 Forest Street, Apt. D2
Hartford, CT 06105

Personnel Department, City of Hartford and Department of Public Works, City of Hartford
c/o Karen K. Buffkin, Esq.
Assistant Corporation Counsel
550 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06103

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC 1996-295/FD/eal/06061997