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4/26/2012
Weiner: "Having felt the stress from trying to obtain public records from the county myself, I can say [Clark new FOIA policy] is a positive step forward," - News Journal

County Councilman Bob Weiner, who co-chairs an electronic documents sub-committee with Councilwoman Lisa Diller that’s trying to get more documents online to reduce the need for FOIA requests, was also pleased. “Having felt the stress from trying to obtain public records from the county myself, I can say this is a positive step forward,” Weiner said. 

NCCo to mirror state on FOIA requests; Clark scheduled to sign order easing access to public records
By ADAM TAYLOR  The News Journal 4/26/12 

New Castle County Ex¬ecutive Paul Clark will sign an executive order Tuesday that will make it easier, faster and less expensive for citizens to get public documents. The overhaul of the way the county treats Freedom of Information Act requests mirrors the improvements made by Gov. Jack Markell for state government agencies last fall, county spokesman Jim Grant said. The changes will result in a single policy for the way county departments handle FOIA requests using a universal form. Each department will have someone to facilitate the requests. The coordinators will forward requests to the appropriate department if citizens file them in the wrong place. “Reasonable access to public information is critical to establishing a relationship of trust between a government and its citizens,” Clark said in a statement. “This new policy enhances my administration's efforts toward transparency and accountability.”

In the same statement issued by the county, Gov. Jack Markell applauded the move. The county has reduced the following FOIA-related fees, which will now match those charged by the state:
 
» The first 20 pages of for regular sized, black-ink copies will be free, and each additional pages will be 10 cents. The current cost is 50 cents a page.

» Standard-size color copies will cost $1, a page, down from $2.

» Oversized black-ink pages will cost $2 or $3 a page, depending on the size, down from $5 a page. Over¬sized color copies will be charged an extra $1.50 a page, down from $50 a page.

» Copies from microfilm will be free for the first 20 pages and cost 15 cents for each additional page. The old cost was 50 cents a page.
 
» There will be no administrative fees for requests that take less than an hour to complete. Requests must be completed in 10 business days. 
 
John Flaherty, president of the Delaware Coalition for Open Government, commended Clark. “It’s a step in the right direction and he deserves a lot of credit,” Flaherty said. “Piggybacking on the state’s idea is good, because the old costs were arbitrary and capricious. It’s a huge improvement.”
 
County Councilman Bob Weiner, who co-chairs an electronic documents sub-committee with Councilwoman Lisa Diller that’s trying to get more documents online to reduce the need for FOIA requests, was also pleased. “Having felt the stress from trying to obtain public records from the county myself, I can say this is a positive step forward,” Weiner said. 
 
FOIA requests can be made in person, by mail, email, or fax to the department's FOIA coordinator. The new policy, request form and a list of department coordinators and their locations will be available by May 1 at www.nccde.org or by calling 395-5555. 

Contact Adam Taylor at 324-2787 or ataylor@delawareonline.com.


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