FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Robert Westervelt and
The Daily Campus,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-323
President, State of Connecticut, University of
Connecticut; Associate Vice President, State of
Connecticut, University of Connecticut,
Department of Government Relations; and
State of Connecticut, University of Connecticut,
Respondents April 28, 1999

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 8, 1998, at which time the complainants and the respondents 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(1), G.S.

        2. It is found that on or about October 9, 1998, the complainants submitted a written Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act request to the respondents for a copy of the complete report of a study of the nine administrative functions at the University of Connecticut, which study was conducted by a consultant firm (hereinafter "the study").

        3. By letter dated October 19, 1998, the respondents denied the complainants’ request, claiming that the study was a draft, subject to revisions and, as such, was exempt from disclosure until it was final.

        4. It is found that the study is a public record within the meaning of 1-19(a), G.S.

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

[e]xcept as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute,…every person shall have the right to…receive a copy of [public] records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15….

        6. Section 1-15(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that:

[a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record."

        7. At the hearing in this matter, the respondents argued that the study was exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(1) and 1-19(c)(1), G.S., as a draft subject to revision prior to the submission to or discussion among members of such agency and that the respondents had determined that the public interest in withholding the report clearly outweighed the public’s interest in disclosure.

        8. Section 1-19(b)(1), G.S., provides in relevant part that nothing in the FOI Act "shall be construed to require the disclosure of:

preliminary drafts and notes provided the public agency has determined that the public interest in withholding such documents clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure . . ."

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

[n]otwithstanding the provisions of subdivisions (1) and (16) of subsection (b) of this section, disclosure shall be required of (1) interagency or intra-agency memoranda or letters, advisory opinions, recommendations or any report comprising part of the process by which governmental decisions and policies are formulated, except disclosure shall not be required of a preliminary draft of a memorandum, prepared by a member of the staff of a public agency, which is subject to revision prior to submission to or discussion among the members of such agency . . .

        10. It is found that the study was conducted by consultants from the firm of Coopers & Lybrand and that it was submitted to the respondents during the summer of 1998.

        11. It is found that the study was circulated for input among several of the respondent university’s senior managers.

        12. It is found that the study is not a preliminary draft or note within the meaning of 1-19(b)(1), G.S.

        13. Moreover, even if the study were found to be a preliminary draft or note within the meaning of 1-19(b)(1), G.S., it is found that the study is an intra-agency report comprising part of the process by which governmental decisions and policies are formulated within the meaning of 1-19(c)(1), G.S., and is not a preliminary draft of a memorandum, prepared by a member of the staff of a public agency, which is subject to revision prior to submission to or discussion among the members of such agency.

        14. It is concluded therefore that the study is not exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(1) and 1-19(c)(1), G.S., and that it is subject to mandatory disclosure pursuant to 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.

        15. It is further concluded that the respondents violated 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainants with a copy of the study upon request.

 

        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 complainants with a complete copy of the study in the form it existed on the date of their original request, as well as copies of any and all subsequent drafts which would reflect any revisions.

        2. Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with the provisions of 1-15(a), and 1-19(a), G.S.

 

 

 

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 28, 1999.

 

 

_________________________

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:

 

Robert Westervelt and
The Daily Campus
11 Dog Lane
Storrs, CT 06268
President, State of Connecticut,
University of Connecticut;
Associate Vice President,
State of Connecticut,
University of Connecticut,
Department of Government
Relations; and State of
Connecticut, University of
Connecticut
c/o Atty. Paul M. Shapiro and
c/o Atty. Paul S. McCarthy
Assistant Attorneys General
UCONN, Box U-177
605 Gilbert Road
Storrs, CT 06269-1177

 

 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1998-323FD/mrb05051999