NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Though most cities, counties and school districts in Tennessee list in their policies contact information for who will handle public records requests, less than half included an email address to which the public can direct those requests.
That’s one of the findings of an audit of government entities across the state by the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, which examined 259 policies between October and March.
The Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, established in 2003, works to preserve and improve access to public information through an alliance of journalists, civic groups and residents. Its two dozen board members include leaders of news, civic and legal organizations around the state.
Under a state law passed in 2016, government entities in Tennessee were required to establish a written policy by July 1, 2017, on requests for public records, including the name, title and contact information for the person in charge of coordinating public record requests.
Most Read Nation & World Stories
- Where you're most likely to catch COVID: New study highlights high-risk locations
- A single word sparks a crossfire between the Supreme Court, NPR and its star reporter Nina Totenberg
- Reporter is hit by car on air, striking a nerve with TV journalists
- Sports on TV & radio: Local listings for Seattle games and events
- Last straw: Fed-up Arizona Democrats censure Sen. Sinema
State law also requires that government entities using email to transact business must accept records requests through email.
Although 84 percent of the policies audited did contain the title or name along with the phone number of the government employee handling public record requests, just 33 percent of counties, 69 percent of cities and 55 percent of school districts – 50 percent overall – included an email address with the contact information.
The only contact information in some policies was the physical address of the government entity.
A small number of the policies TCOG audited appeared to have been outdated and not updated to meet the July 2017 deadline requirements, including not listing the name or title of the entity’s public records request coordinator at all.