FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Bradshaw Smith,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2008-774

Kendall F. Wiggin, State Librarian,

State of Connecticut, Connecticut

State Library; and State of Connecticut,

Connecticut State Library,

 
  Respondents August 26, 2009
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 23, 2009, at which time the complainant 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 1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.  By letter dated December 8, 2008 and filed with the Commission on December 10, 2008, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (hereinafter “FOI”) Act by failing to provide the complainant with the opportunity to inspect the records described in paragraph 3, below.  The complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the respondents.

 

3.  It is found that on November 24, 2008, the complainant appeared at the respondents’ offices requesting to inspect “a recruitment file for a Library Technician search dating back to the Summer of 2007.”  (Hereinafter the “requested records”). 

 

            4.  It is found that, by letter dated November 25, 2008 and at the time of the complainant’s request described in paragraph 3, above, the respondents acknowledged the complainant’s request.  The respondents also informed the complainant that they would conduct a review of the “recruitment file to constitute what might be considered an invasion of privacy” and that they would have such information redacted.  The respondents further informed the complainant that once the review was done, they would schedule a time for the complainant to review the file.  The November 25, 2008 letter from the respondents stated that they would contact the complainant by Friday December 12, 2008.

 

            5.  It is found that the complainant claimed that he did not receive the letter described in paragraph 4, above.

 

6.  Section 1-200(5), G.S., provides:

 

“Public records or files” means any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, or to which a public agency is entitled to receive a copy by law or contract under section 1-218, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.

 

7.  Section 1-210(a), G.S., states in relevant part:

 

[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 (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours…, or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212…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….

 

            8.  Section 1-212(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 . . . .”

 

9.  It is concluded that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-200(5), 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

10.  It is found that, by telephone on December 8, 2008, the respondents and the complainant arranged to have the complainant inspect the requested records on December 11, 2008.  It is also found that the complainant inspected the requested records on December 11, 2008.

 

11.  At the hearing on this matter, the complainant contended that the requested records “were not made available in a timely manner” and were provided considerably after he made his requests to the respondents described in paragraph 3, above.  The complainant also contended that the FOI Act “clearly indicates that a request to review documents must be made available on demand.”

 

12.  The respondents contend that they provided the complainant with prompt access to the requested records after seeking guidance from the Commission on what information from among the requested records could be redacted under the FOI Act.

 

13.  It is found that the complainant’s request described in paragraph 3, above, was made during the week of the Thanksgiving 2008 holiday, and that the respondents were understaffed during such week.  It is also found that the respondents began a review of the requested records about a week after the request was made by the complainant.  The respondents also provided the complainant with access to the requested records approximately one week after they began their review.

 

14.  It is found that the respondents redacted interview questions, social security numbers, addresses and phone numbers of applicants contained in the requested records.

 

15.  With respect to the redactions described in paragraph 14, above, at the hearing in this matter, the complainant contended that the respondents failed to provide the “statutory authority” for requesting social security numbers during the pre-employment process, and also failed to explain why such social security numbers were redacted.

 

16.  However, it is concluded that the respondents are not required to answer questions under the FOI Act.  Furthermore, the Commission has consistently ordered that social security numbers may be redacted from public records. 

 

17.  Based on the facts and circumstances of this case, it is found that the respondents’ provision of the requested records approximately two weeks after they were requested was prompt within the meaning of 1-212(a), G.S.

 

18.  It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate 1-210(a), G.S.

 

19.  The Commission declines to consider the imposition of civil penalties against the respondents.

 

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.

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 26, 2009.

 

 

____________________________

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:

 

Bradshaw Smith

23 Ludlow Road

Windsor, CT 06095

 

Kendall F. Wiggin, State Librarian,

State of Connecticut, Connecticut

State Library; and State of Connecticut,

Connecticut State Library

c/o Rosemary M. McGovern, Esq.

Assistant Attorney General

Office of the Attorney General

55 Elm Street

PO Box 120

Hartford, CT 06141-0120

 

 

 

 

____________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIC/2008-774FD/paj/8/28/2009