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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Stiff Price Tag for E-Mails: $1700

A Vermont request comes with a steep price tag:

The Douglas administration is demanding $1,700 from the Vermont State Employees' Association if the union wants to look at public records related to the 400 state job cuts Gov. Jim Douglas has ordered.

"The time (and associated cost) are high because the request will require review of many thousands of e-mail messages to or from the named individuals" -- named in the union's request for access to the documents, wrote Harold Scwartz, administrative services director at the Department of Human Resources.

The union, which had sought e-mails and other internal documents related to the cuts dating back to last fall, called the charge exorbitant.

"The fact is, the public has a vested interest in knowing what government services and operations are impacted by the governor's position reduction’ initiativebut the public should not be required to pay to examine internal correspondence about those effects," VSEA Interim Director Michael Casey said in an e-mail.

Administration officials referred questions to Linda McIntire, deputy secretary of administration, whose agency includes the Department of Human Resources. She said the department and agency want to be responsive to the union's request, but found the costs in staff time to reply to the VSEA request would be high.

She pointed to a provision in Vermont law that allows a government agency targeted by a public records request to charge for the time it takes to respond to the request.

More here.

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