Hickenlooper adopts public records fees

DENVER – The governor’s office and four other state agencies have adopted a uniform public records policy in what the state says is an effort at consistency and transparency.

The policy, adopted last fall, applies to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office, the Governor’s Energy Office, the Governor’s Office of Information Technology, the Office of State Planning and Budgeting and the Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

Hickenlooper issued the new policy late last year, and The Associated Press learned about it through an open records request about the policy.

Hickenlooper’s office says it just wanted the agencies to be consistent. Spokesman Eric Brown said the goal is to ensure uniformity, transparency and timely access, not to limit access.

In some cases, the policy may allow officials to charge $20 or more per hour for records requests that take more than two hours to address. Per the existing Colorado Open Records Act, agencies may charge a copying fee of 25 cents per page for records exceeding 25 pages.

Colorado law allows state agencies to charge a “nominal fee” for the use of state worker time if a request interferes with their normal work. It doesn’t require the fees, and no dollar amount is specified.

Most state agencies still have their own Colorado Open Records Act policies, including the Department of Revenue, Department of Natural Resources, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment and the Department of Human Services.

The policies vary.

For instance, Secretary of State Scott Gessler gives the news media and universities half-off hourly charges of $25. State lawmakers often waive fees for political reasons, while other custodians of public records put them on the Internet, saving time and money.

The public can request official daily calendars, phone records, expense accounts, memos, reports, or any other records used to conduct state business. Some documents can be withheld if they would jeopardize investigations, trade secrets, personal information or harm ongoing discussions over state policies.