FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|Lawrence A. Butts,|
|against||Docket #FIC 1998-163|
|Director, State of
of Environmental Protection, Human
Resources Division; and State of Connecticut,
Department of Environmental Protection,
Human Resources Division,
|Respondents||December 9, 1998|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 25, 1998 at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. Docket #FIC 1998-162, Lawrence A. Butts v. Chairperson, State of Connecticut, Department of Environmental Protection, Human Resources Division; and State of Connecticut, Department of Environmental Protection, Human Resources Division, was consolidated with the above- captioned matter for purpose of 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 §1-18a(1), G.S.
2. It is found that on June 4, 1998 the complainant visited the respondent directors office to review examination records concerning the Environmental Protection Park and Recreation Supervisor 1 promotional examination number 638-0000.
3. It is found that the respondent director requested that the complainant, prior to reviewing the examination records, read Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies §5- 225-1 and sign an examination review log agreeing that he would not copy any of the examination records being provided to him. The complainant refused to sign the log, and the respondent director terminated the review process.
4. By letter dated and filed on June 8, 1998, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act by denying him access to and copies of the examination records.
5. Following the hearing on this matter, the respondents provided the Commission with the records at issue and an in camera inspection was conducted. The in camera records have been marked IC #1998-163-1 through 1998-163-60 for identification purpose.
6. It is concluded that the in camera records are public records within the meaning of §§1-18a(5) and 1-19(a), G.S.
7. Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides in relevant 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 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. The respondents contend that IC #1998-163-1 through IC #1998-163-3, inclusive, are exempt from disclosure pursuant to §§1-19(b)(2), G.S., 1-19(b)(6), G.S., 5- 225, G.S., and Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies §5-225-1; that IC #1998-163-4 through IC #1998-163-6, inclusive, are exempt from disclosure pursuant to §§1-19(b)(6), G.S., 5-225, G.S., and Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies §5-225-1; and that the application numbers and social security numbers contained in IC #1998-163-7 through IC #1998-163-60, inclusive, are exempt from disclosure pursuant to §1-19(b)(2), G.S.
9. Section 5-225, G.S., provides, that:
all persons competing in any examination shall be given written notice of their earned ratings and, except in the case of an examination administered in accordance with the provisions of subsection (b) of section 5-216, shall be given written notice of their relative standing upon the eligible lists or of their failure to attain the required minimum passing score. The papers, markings, background profiles and other items used in determining the final earned ratings, other than examination questions and other materials constituting the examination, shall be open to inspection by the person, subject to such regulations as may be issued by the commissioner of administrative services. [Emphasis added.]
10. With respect to IC #1998-163-1 through IC #1998-163-6, inclusive, it is concluded that such records constitute papers, markings, background profiles and other items used in determining the final earned ratings within the meaning of §5-225, G.S. Accordingly, IC #1998-163-1 through IC #1998-163-6, inclusive, are only open to inspection by the candidate pursuant to Personnel Director v. FOIC, 214 Conn. 312 (1990). In light of this conclusion, it is not necessary to address the respondents further claims of exemption regarding IC #1998-163-1 through IC #1998-163-6.
11. With respect to the application numbers contained in IC #1998-163-7 through IC #1998-163-9, inclusive, and IC #1998-163-38 through IC #1998-163-60, inclusive, the respondents contend that such numbers are exempt from disclosure pursuant to §1- 19(b)(2), G.S. They further contend that because the application number is the same as the last six digits of a candidates social security number, disclosure of the application number could possibly lead to disclosure of the social security number.
12. Perkins v. Freedom of Information Commission, 228 Conn. 158 (1993) sets forth the appropriate test to determine whether public records may be withheld from disclosure pursuant to a §1-19(b)(2), G.S., claim of exemption. Perkins requires that first the information sought must constitute personnel or medical files and similar files and second, that two elements be met: the information sought does not pertain to legitimate matters of public concern, and that such information is highly offensive to a reasonable person.
13. It is found that the application numbers do not constitute personnel or medical and similar files.
14. It is also found that the application numbers pertain to legitimate matters of public concern.
15. Further, it is found that disclosure of the application numbers would not be highly offensive to a reasonable person.
16. It is therefore, concluded that the application numbers are not exempt from disclosure pursuant to §1-19(b)(2), G.S.
17. It is also found that other than the respondents speculation, they failed to provide any evidence that disclosure of the application number could lead to disclosure of an applicants social security number.
18. With respect to social security numbers in general, the Commission has historically declined to order the disclosure of such numbers. In contested case FIC 89- 76, Eric Garrison v. Supervisor, Unclaimed Property Division, State of Connecticut, Office of the Treasurer, the Commission found that:
social security numbers are used by both the public and private sector for a wide range of personal identification purposes including but not limited to use of this number for state and federal taxpayer identification.It is found that disclosure of social security numbers would allow persons with knowledge of such numbers to access a wealth of data, including personal, financial, and tax data concerning the individual assigned that number.
19. Therefore, in keeping with the Commissions precedent, the Commission, declines to order the disclosure of the social security numbers contained in IC #1998- 163-10 through IC #1998-163-60, inclusive.
20. It is concluded that the respondents did not violate §§1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S., when they failed to provide the complainant with a copy of IC #1998-163-1 through IC #1998-163-6, inclusive, and the social security numbers contained in IC #1998-163-10 through IC #1998-163-60, inclusive.
21. However, it is further concluded that the respondents violated §§1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S., when they failed to promptly provide the complainant with the application numbers.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Forthwith, the respondents shall provide the complainant with a certified copy of the examination list free of charge. In complying with this order, the respondents may redact the candidates social security numbers.
2. With respect to the application numbers, henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with the requirements of §§1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of December 9, 1998.
_________________________ Melanie R. Balfour 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:
Lawrence A. Butts 584 West Street Rocky Hill, CT 06067
Director, State of Connecticut, Department of Environmental Protection, Human Resources Division; and State of Connecticut, Department of Environmental Protection, Human Resources Division c/o Atty. Robert B. Teitelman Assistant Attorney General 55 Elm Street, PO Box 120 Hartford, CT 06141-0120
__________________________ Melanie R. Balfour Acting Clerk of the Commission