FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Docket #FIC 1996-556
August 27, 1997
In the Matter of a Complaint by Princess Chikara, Complainant
Governor, State of Connecticut, Respondent
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 11 and June 11, 1997, at which times the complainant and the respondent appeared. On June 11, 1997, the parties 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 dated "Friday the 13th, 1996", the complainant requested, in a format and syntax differing from normal business correspondence, that the respondent provide her with copies of records signed by all Governors since 1973 that relate to § 47-65(e), G.S. ("records" or "requested records").
3. As a result of the lack of clarity in the complainants request, the office of the respondent did not immediately respond to the complainants request.
4. By letter dated October 12, 1996, and filed with the Commission on October 16, 1996, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by denying her request to copy or inspect the records.
5. At the hearing, the complainant contended that the respondent had not performed a diligent search for the requested records and that the respondent has an obligation to provide copies of the records to her that may be maintained in the Office of Policy and Management, the State Library, or other state agencies.
Docket #FIC 1996-556 Page 2
6. The respondent answered that his staff has performed a diligent search, that his office has no relevant records in its custody to provide to the complainant, and that his office has no duty to maintain the requested records in its custody.
7. Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides 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, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15 .Each such agency shall keep and maintain all public records in its custody at its regular office or place of business in an accessible place .[Emphasis added.]
8. Section 1-15(a), G.S., in turn, provides in pertinent part that:
(a)ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly, upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.
9. It is found that, after the nature and scope of the complainants request was clarified for the first time at the hearing before this Commission on April 11, 1996, the complainant in a positive spirit agreed to a sixty day period to attempt a non-litigated settlement of the matter here at issue. On May 21, 1997, a member of the respondents senior staff wrote the complainant concerning the results of the search for the requested records.
10. It is also found that grant applications relating to § 47-65(e), G.S., are kept on file at the Office of Policy and Management or at agencies other than the respondents office, and are bought to the office of the respondent only as required for the respondents review and signature. It is further found that the respondent does not maintain any index of all documents he signs.
11. It is further found that, at the end of the administration of each Governor, the records from that Governors administration are routinely sent to the archives at the State Library.
12. Finally, it is found that the respondent has performed a diligent search of his office for the requested records.
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13. It is concluded, based upon the finding at paragraph 9, above, that the respondent did respond promptly, as required by § § 1-19(a) and 1-15(a), G.S.
14. It is also concluded that, while § 47-65(e), G.S., designates the respondent as the administrative agent to apply for funds and enter into contracts in connection with Indian affairs, § 47-65(e), G.S., does not require the respondent to maintain the requested records in his custody. The terms of § 47-65(e), G.S., do not restrict the inherent authority of the respondent to delegate this record keeping function to the administrative apparatus that was created, in important part, to assist the respondent in his many duties in a manner which he designates.
15. It is further concluded that, pursuant to § § 1-19(a) and 1-15(a), G.S., the responsibility to provide copies of the records rests with the individual agency which maintains and has custody of any portion of the requested records.
15. Finally, it is concluded that with respect to the matters here at issue the respondent did not violate § 1-19(a), G.S., § 1-15(a), G.S., or any other provision of the FOI Act.
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 notes that the complainant could best pursue her interest in the records by making requests for copies or to inspect at the Office of Policy and Management and the State Library.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 27, 1997.
Dolores E. Tarnowski
Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 1996-556 Page 4
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:
883 Schaghticoke Reservation
Kent, CT. 06757
Governor, State of CT.
c/o Sam S. F. Caligiuri
Deputy Legal Counsel
State Capitol - Room 212
Hartford, CT. 06106
Dolores E. Tarnowski
Clerk of the Commission