FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

FINAL DECISION
Docket #FIC 1996-526
July 9, 1997

In the Matter of a Complaint by Robert L. Finley, Jr., Complainant
against
Patricia Pac, Assistant Attorney General, State of Connecticut, Office of the Attorney General; State of Connecticut, Office of the Attorney General; William Matulewicz, State of Connecticut, Department of Social Services; and State of Connecticut, Department of Social Services  Respondents

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 3, 1997, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The caption has been amended and restated to conform with the facts found at the hearing.

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 Section 1-18a(a), G.S.

2. By letters dated October 30, 1996, the complainant requested to inspect and receive copies of any records pertaining to himself and included docket and file numbers as well as other information for identifying relevant files.

3. By letter dated November 5, 1996, the respondent Pac declined to forward the records, and on November 10, 1996, the complainant received a notice from the respondent Department of Social Services also declining to disclose the requested records.

4. By letter dated November 23, 1996, and filed with the Commission on November 27, 1996, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act by denying the complainant his right to inspect and receive copies of the records described in paragraph 2, above.

5. Section 1-19(a), G.S., states in pertinent part:

Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency…shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours….

[Emphasis added]

6. The respondents contend that 45 CFR 303.21 and 17b-90, G.S., together establish the legal basis for a detailed manual concerning management of files created to secure the support of minor children, and that with certain carefully defined exceptions, all child support records are confidential records which are not available for public inspection or copying pursuant to 1-19(a), G.S.

 

7. However, the Bureau of Child Support Enforcement, Manual Volume 4, Section 409.2(e)(3)(A) provides as follows:

Except as otherwise permitted by this section, information concerning the absent parent may only be disclosed to the absent parent or his/her attorney…Information so disclosed must not contain confidential information concerning any other person.

8. It is found that 45 CFR 303.21 and 17b-90, G.S., both pertain to the disclosure of information about the minor child in question and any applicant for public assistance, who is usually the custodial parent.

9. It is also found that, in the present case, the complainant is seeking only information about himself, and not about his minor child or the applicant for public assistance and custodial parent, Pamela Orde.

10. It is therefore concluded that, in the case of an "absent parent" seeking information about himself, the federal law and state statute cited at paragraphs 6 and 8, above, create no exception to 1-19(a), G.S., and accordingly, the complainant does have a right to inspect or copy the records described at paragraph 2, above.

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

1. The respondents shall forthwith provide the complainant with a copy of the requested records described in paragraph 2 of the findings, above, which records may be redacted as set forth in order 2, below.

2. In complying with paragraph 1 of the order, above, the respondents may redact all information except for that concerning the complainant, so that no information concerning any other person is revealed.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 9, 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:
Robert L. Finley, Jr.
134 Nod Hill Road
Southbury, CT 06488

Patricia Pac, Assistant Attorney General, State of Connecticut, Office of the Attorney General; State of Connecticut, Office of the Attorney General; William Matulewicz, State of Connecticut, Department of Social Services; and State of Connecticut, Department of Social Services
c/o Patricia Pac, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
55 Elm Street
Hartford, CT 06141-0120

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC 1996-526/FD/eal/07231997