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MDDC Sunshine Week Project: Agencies have patchwork approach to tracking public records requests

MDDC Staff

April 8, 2021

Led by Andy Schotz, editor of Bethesda Beat, and Luciana Perez Uribe Guinassi, MDDC’s public policy intern and UMD Merrill College of Journalism graduate student, MDDC conducted a one-month test of government agencies in Maryland.  This project revealed a patchwork of approaches in how public records are tracked and how requests for access are filled.

The Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association in February filed requests for public information with 31 state agencies, counties, municipalities and school systems. The idea was to look at trends in the number of public records requests they received over a three-year period and what effect the COVID-19 pandemic had, if any, on their responses. 

MDDC members are invited to use the the project during Sunshine Week, March 14 – 21, 2021.  The components of the package include:

  • Editorial from MDDC (453 words), suitable for all publications in Maryland, Delaware and DC.  Please note this editorial can be customized to a publication’s needs, and includes an optional paragraph referencing the MDDC project.
  • Main Story (2298 words) focusing on the Maryland project and considering pending legislation in the state that affects the Public Information Act.
  • Sidebar to Main Story (2222 words) containing all of the PIA responses received.  Please note an update has been made as of March 16th at 1:30 pm.  The response from the MD Department of Natural Resources was inadvertently omitted.
  • Graphics for Main Story, including code for an interactive map

Next week, MDDC will be posting investigative work from 2020 that was submitted as part of nominations for the MDDC James S. Keat FOIA Award, and posting our interview with Andy and Luciana on our podcast, FiveDubs.

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