Charlotte Observer: N.C., S.C. flunk public records
From the Charlotte Observer (7/24/12): A report released Monday ranked access to public records in the Carolinas as among the worst in the country.
The study by the State Integrity Investigation, which ranks states by their corruption risk, found that both North and South Carolina public record laws fail to provide an appeals process for denied requests or impose penalties on agencies violating public records laws.
North Carolina’s access to public records ranked 43rd and South Carolina ranked 50th in the study, which also evaluated state budget processes, lobbying disclosure and judicial accountability. Both received an “F” in public access to information.
A public record is any information, document, or electronic data – such as a police report or court document – that a government agency is required to maintain by law, and which must be accessible to scrutiny by the public.
Advocates for open government say the culture of secrecy creates obstacles for both citizens and media organizations seeking public records. These disputes are often only settled after expensive, lengthy lawsuits.