Council President Richard Conlin
Councilmember Sally J. Clark
Councilmember Bruce Harrell
COUNCIL VOTES TO IMPROVE CITIZEN ACCESS TO PUBLIC RECORDS
New ordinance will implement enhanced procedures for creating a “Culture of Compliance” across all City departments for responding to public disclosure requests
SEATTLE – In its continuing effort to build greater transparency and participation in municipal government, the City Council voted 8-0 today to pass legislation that will require every City department to adopt “culture of compliance” best practices for managing and responding to public records requests. Developed by the Council’s Special Committee on Open Government, the legislation calls for the City to implement State Auditor and Attorney General recommendations for managing its public records process, and requires all City departments to adopt model rules for complying with the Public Records Act that have been in place in the Council’s legislative department for the last two years.
Richard Conlin, Chair of the Special Committee on Open Government, said, “Public records belong to the public, and this will make it easier to ensure that. This ordinance not only complies fully with the letter of the Public Records Act, but with the spirit. All Departments must be responsive to the people's right to know.”
The model rules mandated by the legislation include:
- Adopting applicable records retention policies;
- Adoption of a form for submitting records requests;
- Establishing a systematic process for promptly responding to all records requests;
- Identifying a central point of contact in each department for responding to public records requests;
- Developing a system that informs a requesting party of the time needed to respond to a request, an estimate of when requested records will be available, and reasons why a requested record will not be provided;
- Creating a web-based, single-click approach for submitting and receiving records;
- Providing instructions for submitting an appeal of a denial of a records request;
- Periodically reminding citizens of the hours and dates for when citizens can inspect and reproduce public records.
City departments must adopt these new administrative rules by November 1 of this year.
"Establishing a City-wide user-friendly Public Disclosure Request process was a top priority for me when we created the Council’s Committee on Open Government,” said Councilmember Sally J. Clark. “Seattlelites deserve an easily navigable means of gaining access to information from all city departments."
Councilmember Bruce Harrell says, “Government must be accessible and transparent. That is why I am working on the Citizen Engagement Portal as a part of our Open Government process. We must convert our accessibility and transparency into strategic tools for our success.”
Council meetings are cablecast live on Seattle Channel 21 and Webcast live on the City Councils website at www.seattle.gov/council. Copies of legislation, archives of previous meetings, and news releases are available on www.seattle.gov/council. Questions about Council news releases can be directed to Kimberly Reason, Council Communications, at 206-684-8159, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.