Bellevue found fully responsive to public records requests

A recent audit of public records requests of Washington’s 30 largest cities, counties and state agencies found Bellevue to be fully responsive and already performing in a manner consistent with many recommended best practices.

A recent audit of public records requests of Washington’s 30 largest cities, counties and state agencies found Bellevue to be fully responsive and already performing in a manner consistent with many recommended best practices.

Results of the performance audit were the subject Monday at a public hearing before City Council members. The hearing was required as part of Initiative 900, the measure approved by voters in 2005 which gave the state auditor authority to conduct public records performance audits of state and local governments.

The audit was conducted from November, 2006, through March, 2008. The state auditor’s office submitted 10 unannounced records requests to each public entity. Their performance was then judged against the best practices contained in the state Public Records Act and the state attorney general’s model rules for public disclosure. Each entity was also judged based on their performance compared to their peers.

The audit concluded that most of the 30 audited cities, counties and state agencies provided good, timely customer service in responding to the public records requests. Bellevue was found to be fully responsive for each request, providing records that met the intent and spirit of the law.

The audit recommended a number of best practices that the audited entities could consider to enhance their performance, including enhanced staff training to handle requests more expeditiously and the use of e-mail to respond to requests when possible. Bellevue already adheres to most of the best practices recommended by the audit, City Clerk Myrna Basich said.

According to the state attorney general’s office, Bellevue has established a “culture of compliance” with regard to public records requests. As part of its new electronic content management system, the city expects to have an online submission process for public records requests on its website by year’s end.