Only 60 percent of Ohio cities responded promptly to a recent request for public records by the Auditor of State’s office. Auditor Dave Yost reported the results today in recognition of Sunshine Week.
“The good news is, 6 out of 10 cities responded to our request within the reasonable time we specified,” Auditor Yost said. “Many of them did it in only one or two days, several even the same day.
“The bad news is, far too many cities failed timely response. A very few failed to respond at all, despite three additional requests.”
The Auditor of State’s office made a request for payroll records of all 247 cities in Ohio in October, as part of an effort to evaluate the format of electronic records and the ease of use and access to payroll records, which typically represent the majority of spending by local governments.
The information sought is an important part of financial reporting and is frequently used in performance audits. Pay has also been the subject of a number of private public records requests during the past few years and various data reporting efforts by governments around the country. Among concerns raised by the Auditor is inconsistency of format and reporting data that does not allow for “apples to apples” comparisons.
From The Columbus Dispatch: “Ohio auditor slams responses to public-records requests“
Ohio Auditor Dave Yost figures that if his office can’t quickly obtain public records, “Joe Average Citizen isn’t going to fare very well.”
Yost proclaimed yesterday that the “public-records law in Ohio is alive but not well” as he released a study of cities’ responses to his office’s request on Oct. 17 for copies of their annual payrolls.
Forty percent of Ohio’s 247 cities failed to provide records within the requested seven to 10 days, a figure that the auditor declared unacceptable. Within a month, 77 percent of cities had turned over their payrolls.