An Issue That Can Be Resolved WIth a One-Word Law Change
(Editor’s Note: A long-time friend of the chief correspondent of California’s Capitol is a public information officer with a state agency. Her observation about the efficacy of complying with California’s Public Records Act inspired this post.)
State agencies have 10 days to respond to a Public Records Act request. The presumption would be 10 “working” days. That’s not the case. It’s 10 calendar days.
Here’s what Government Code Section 6253 (c) says:
“Each agency, upon a request for a copy of records, shall, within 10 days from receipt of the request, determine whether the request, in whole or in part, seeks copies of disclosable public records in the possession of the agency and shall promptly notify the person making the request of the determination and the reasons therefor.”
In “unusual circumstances,” which are defined later in the code section, the time limit can be extended. However, in nearly all cases, 10 days is the limit in which agencies must respond.
While 10 calendar days would seem sufficient to decide the validity of a request, from a practical standpoint the timeframe is much smaller. A weekend subtracts two days. A Friday furlough takes away another.
Assuming a request arrives on Thursday afternoon at a state agency, it isn’t opened until Monday. By Monday, the remaining seven days would run out the following Sunday, leaving five weekdays to respond to the request.
Similar situations likely occur at the city and county level.
Legislation adding the word “working” between “10” and “days” in Section 6253 (c) would resolve the issue without drawing out the response period egregiously, several state public information officers say
Filed under: State Agencies
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