FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
David Garside,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2006-543

Personnel Coordinator, City of New London;

and City Manager, City of New London,

 
  Respondents April 25, 2007
       

  

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 9, 2007, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  The case caption has been amended to reflect the correct title of the respondent personnel coordinator.  This matter was consolidated for hearing with Docket #FIC 2006-523, David E. Garside v. Personnel Coordinator, City of New London; and City Manager, City of New London.

 

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 1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.      It is found that, by letter dated September 29, 2006, to the respondent city manager, the complainant requested “[t]he names of the three separate raters who conducted the Training and Experience Rating portion of the Building Official’s examination referenced on the enclosed letter.”

 

3.      It is found that, by letter dated October 4, 2006, the respondent personnel coordinator for the city of New London denied the complainant’s request, stating, in relevant part that, “for purposes of privacy, the names and resumes of those people scoring an examination are considered ‘other examination data’ [within the meaning of 1-19, G.S. (now 1-210, G.S)]” and are therefore “exempt” from disclosure.

 

4.      By letter dated October 9, 2006, and filed on October 18, 2006, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with his request.

 

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

 

[e]xcept 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 receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.

           

6.  Section 1-212(a), G.S. provides 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 respondents maintain records that are responsive to the complainant’s request.

 

            8.  It is found that the requested records are three “Training and Experience Rating Forms” used to review the qualifications of the complainant for the position of “building official” for the city of New London (the “requested records”).  It is also found that the name of each individual who conducted the review of the complainant’s application (the “rater”) appears on the form used by such rater.  It is found further that the raters are city employees.

 

9.  It is concluded that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-210(a), G.S.

 

10.  It is found that the respondents provided the complainant with a copy of the requested records with the names of the raters redacted.

 

            11. At the hearing on this matter, the respondent personnel coordinator testified that she did not provide the complainant with the names of the raters because “there had been no complaint about the rating”.  She further stated that she “make[s] every attempt to protect the identity of the raters” and that such information is given out “on a need to know basis” and that there was “no need to know this” information in this case. 

 

12.  Counsel for the respondents asserted, at the hearing in this matter, that the names of the raters are “examination data used to administer” an examination within the meaning of 1-210(b)(6), G.S., and therefore are exempt from mandatory disclosure.   In addition, counsel for the respondents claimed that, at the time of the request, the respondents relied on 1-210(b)(1), G.S., as a basis for nondisclosure.

 

13.  Section 1-210(b)(6), G.S., provides in relevant part that nothing in the FOI Act shall require the disclosure of  “test questions, scoring keys and other examination data used to administer a licensing examination, examination for employment or academic examinations . . . .”

 

14.  In their brief, the respondents assert that “[t]he release of the raters’ names will compromise the integrity of the evaluation process and place them in a position where undo pressure can be placed upon them by other city employees.”  Further, the respondents claim that the failure of the complainant to object to the evaluations interfered with the accountability process, and that “[u]nder these circumstances, there is a greater interest in protecting the raters than the public interest in knowing the name of the raters … ”

 

15.  It is found that the respondents offered no evidence to demonstrate how the integrity of the evaluation process would be compromised by the release of the raters’ names, or how the names of the raters are “data used to administer” an examination.  It is therefore found that the respondents have failed to prove that such names are permissibly exempt under 1-210(b)(6), G.S.

 

16.  Section 1-210(b)(1), G.S., provides that nothing in the FOI Act shall be construed to required disclosure of “[p]reliminary drafts or notes provided the public agency has determined that the public interest in withholding such documents clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

 

17.  It is found that the respondents offered no evidence to demonstrate the applicability of the exemption for “preliminary drafts or notes” in 1-210(b)(1), G.S., to the names of the raters.  It is further found that such exemption was not raised in the respondents’ brief.  It is therefore found that the respondents have failed to prove that the names of the raters are exempt under such section.

18.  It is therefore concluded that the respondents violated the disclosure provisions of 1-210(a) and 1-210(b), G.S., by failing to promptly comply with the complainants’ request described in paragraph 2, above. 

 

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 unredacted copies of the requested records, as described in paragraphs 2 and 8, above.

 

2.  Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with the disclosure provisions of 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 25, 2007.

 

________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

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:

 

David Garside

235 Montauk Avenue

New London, CT 06320

 

Personnel Coordinator, City of New London;

and City Manager, City of New London

c/o Brian K. Estep, Esq.

Conway & Londregan, P.C.

38 Huntington Street

PO Box 1351

New London, CT 06320-1351

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

FIC/2006-543FD/paj/4/30/2007