FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Shellie Woodberry,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-289
State of Connecticut,
Department of Children and Families,
Personnel Division,
Respondents May 12, 1999

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 12, 1998, at which time the complainant and the respondent 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 respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

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

        2. By e-mail message dated September 11, 1998, the complainant made a Freedom of Information ("FOI") request to the respondent for a copy of the interview questions asked of and the answers given by all who interviewed for the program supervisor position offered by the respondent.

        3. By e-mail message dated September 11, 1998, the respondent informed the complainant that she would receive a phone call from a staff member of the respondent agency who would discuss the questions and answers pertaining to the complainant, but that she would not be provided with any information regarding other interviewees.

        4. By letter dated and filed September 24, 1998, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent’s denial of access to the requested records, more fully described in paragraph 2, above, violated the FOI Act.

        5. Section 1-210(a),G.S. (formerly 1-19(a), G.S.), provides in relevant part that:

[a]ll 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 or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with 1-212.

        6. Section 1-212(a), G.S., (formerly 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. It is found that the records, more fully described in paragraph 2, above, are public records within the meaning of 1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S. (formerly 1-18(a)(5) and 1-19(a), G.S.).

        8. At the hearing in this matter, the respondent claimed that the requested records are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(1), G.S. (formerly 1-19(b)(1), G.S.), which provides that nothing in the FOI Act shall require disclosure of " . . . preliminary drafts or notes provided the public agency has determined that the public interest in withholding such documents clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure . . . .

        9. Furthermore, section 1-210 (c)(1), G.S. (formerly 1-19(c)(1), G.S.), provides in relevant part that:

[n]otwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (1) . . . 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 memoranda, 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 records in question are copies of the questions asked of each person interviewed and that several sheets contain handwritten notes reflecting the answers of the interviewee and the respondent’s impression of the interviewee.

        11. It is further found that, under the facts of this case, the notes constitute "preliminary drafts or notes" within the meaning of 1-210(b)(1), G.S. (formerly 1-19(b)(1), G.S.)

        12. It is also found that the respondent determined that the public interest in withholding the records clearly outweighed the public interest in disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(1), G.S. (formerly 1-19(b)(1), G.S.)

        13. It is further found that the notes are not intra-agency memoranda or letters, advisory opinions, recommendation or reports within the meaning of 1-210(c)(1), G.S. (formerly 1-19(c)(1), G.S.)

        14. It is concluded therefore that the respondent did not violate 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S. (formerly 1-19(a) and 1-15(a), G.S.), by failing to provide the complainant with a copy of the handwritten portions of the records, more fully described in paragraph 10, above.

        15. It is found that the portion of the records which reflect the questions asked of each interviewee are not preliminary drafts or notes within the meaning of 1-210(b)(1), G.S. (formerly 1-19(b)(1), G.S.), and it is concluded that they are not exempt under that provision.

        16. It is therefore concluded that the respondent violated 1-212(a) and 1-210(a), G.S. (formerly 1-15(a), and 1-19(a), G.S.), by failing to provide the complainant with a copy of the questions.

 

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

        1. The respondent shall forthwith provide the complainant with a copy of the interview questions as described in paragraph 10, of the findings above, free of charge.

        2. In complying with the order in paragraph 1, above, the respondent may redact the handwritten notes described in paragraph 10, of the findings, above.

        3. Henceforth, the respondent shall strictly comply with the provisions of 1-212(a) and 1-210(a), G.S. (formerly 1-15(a), and 1-19(a), G.S.)

 

 

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 12, 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:

 

Shellie Woodberry
1313 Cromwell Hills Drive
Cromwell, CT 06416
State of Connecticut,
Department of Children
and Families, Personnel
Division
c/o Atty. John E. Tucker
Assistant Attorney General
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105-2294
 

 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1998-289FD/mrb/05201999