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April 6, 2018 at 8:10 pm #245briannaParticipant
By: Brian Matthews, #796769 (BM75)
Song Pick: “Connected” by Stereo MCs
Where a lot of State agencies have seemingly shirked their duties to respond to and fulfill public records requests, one State agency has proven to be above par under Washington State’s Public Records Act (PRA).
The Washington State Treasurer is a definite exception to State agency incompetence. I decided to investigate various accounts held and operated by the State Treasurer to see if I was able to uncover any underhandedness or fraud with our State funds. I submitted a PRA request under the auspices of RCW 42.56. Stacy Pierson, the Treasurer’s PRA officer, promptly responded to my request, giving me helpful information and asking for clarification to assist them in processing my request. I clarified for them and they again promptly responded back, advising their estimate of potential responsive records and of their response time.
Within thirty days, the Treasurer had located responsive records for their first installment, which they disclosed and provided to me without redactions. In their cover letter for the first installment, they described the parameters of their search, informed that they were working on the second installment, asked me to address any concerns to their office if I thought something was amiss, and advised that they were beginning to work on the second installment.
This level of respect and candor for our State’s PRA law is unlike anything I’d encountered from any other State agency. For instance, the largest Washington State agency is DOC. They’re also the most sued State agency under the PRA. This is because when they respond to PRA requests (if they even respond at all), they give unreasonable estimates of time (usually more than 100 days) to actually get your records; when they give you the records, they carelessly redact and withhold records which they shouldn’t have redacted or withheld; they don’t explain or offer help while processing your request; they play “hide the ball” and refuse to give you responsive records if you don’t specifically name the exact records you’re looking for; and they don’t train their PRA officers or other personnel properly under the PRA.
The Treasurer’s office timely provided their first installment. And their second installment. And it is anticipated that they will timely keep producing their installments until my request is entirely fulfilled. I’m a big proponent for government OF the People, BY the People, FOR the People. The Washington State Treasurer’s office is a model for compliance with the State PRA law and, in my research, epitomizes the very type of governmental agency worthy to reflect the State of Washington’s highest standards. Kudos to the Washington State Treasurer, and especially to their public records officer Stacy Pierson, for their exceptional service in Washington State.
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