All open records requests made to the Iowa Governor’s Office are now posted on the office’s official website.
In a push to strengthen government transparency — and perhaps, after a nudge from political opponents — Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad’s administration is now posting online a list of open records requests submitted to his office.
The dedicated website, launched Oct. 10 by the Office of Gov. Terry E. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, lists what the administration says is every request dating back to February 2011, shortly after Branstad assumed office. The public document is typed, categorized by the month the request was made, and is available in a PDF.
Each request lists the date the request was made, who made the request, when the governor’s office provided the information for the requestor and the cost the office charged for making copies of the information requested.
No plans have been made at this time to upload the information to an open data portal, said Tim Albrecht, the communications director of the governor’s office.
Don’t expect to see pages upon pages of requests listed on the site.
Albrecht said the office usually only receives eight to 10 open records requests a month and that every request that has been made so far has been posted. In September alone, only four requests were made to the governor’s office.
Branstad’s new website lists that on August 30, Sam Roecker, a political strategist for the Iowa Democratic Party, requested copies of all open records requests to the governor’s office.
Albrecht said Thursday the website was started to improve transparency and that there hadn’t been much pressure from citizens to make these lists available online.
However, prior to the list being made available online, The Des Moines Register reported Branstad’s administration was taking criticism from the state’s Democratic Party for apparently not responding to public records requests within time limits prescribed by state law. Last month, Albrecht reportedly called the characterization a “hyperpartisan” attack.
The Iowa Democrats claimed that “they obtained records that show the administration took as long as 55 days to respond to some of the 34 records requests submitted to the governor’s office since Jan. 14 and charged requesters as much as $881 for the records,” according to The Register. But Albrecht had said in response to the accusations that 90 percent of the requests were completed with no charges for staff review time.
Earlier this year Branstad appointed Bill Monroe as a transparency adviser. This week Monroe proposed that a new office be created that would address issues related to open records request and open meeting laws.