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Missouri State Auditor's Office - 2000-


Office of the State Auditor of Missouri
Claire McCaskill


April 17, 2001

Report No. 2001-33

Inadequate Sunshine Law policies exist for more than half the state agencies, boards and commissions, which can lead to non-compliance 

This audit examined how well Missouri�s nearly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions comply with public records requests under Sunshine Law provisions.The audit reviewed the timeliness of processing a request; the reasonableness of denying a request and the fees charged for such requests.The following highlights the findings: 

Record request fees vary widely, often more than market rate 

Charges to obtain a 10-page document requiring a 15-minute search can range from free to $20 depending on which agency handles the request.Audit tests showed that 54 percent of the entities surveyed charged more than the 10 cents per page market rate for duplicating public records.In addition, 92 percent of these entities charging over the market rate had no detailed reasons for the high charges.(See page 11) 

Nearly half the entities surveyed did not comply with record requests 

About 44 percent of the governmental entities surveyed either did not respond, responded untimely or improperly denied a request.Of the 9 percent that did not respond at all, many entity officials said the request never arrived even though we had a signed receipt from the mailing. 

Three entities refused to provide the requested records unless the citizen explained why they want the information, which is not required by the Sunshine Law.One agency�s attorney offered this reason to deny: �It will be necessary for you to be more specific as to what you need and for what purpose before we can comply��(See page 3) 

Majority of the entities responded on time 

Audit tests showed that 55 percent of the entities surveyed responded within the 3-day requirement of the Sunshine Law.Of those that did not respond on time, the longest delay was 43 business days, while the majority of the other untimely responders were one to three days late. (See page 4)

Written policies do not exist or are not clear 

About 65 percent of the written policies of the Sunshine Law reviewed in this audit were not clear or reasonable.About 18 percent of these entities had no written policy.About 45 percent of these entities had unclear policies that did not identify a custodian of records or state 3-day response time requirement.(See page 6) 

At least three policies were not written in the �spirit� of the Sunshine Law, including Northwest Missouri State University that indicated top university officials were not �governmental bodies� and were outside the realm of the law. (See page 7)

Complete Audit Report

Missouri State Auditor's Office