The Tri-City Herald reports that the Pasco City Council, in a 5-2 decision on Monday, adopted a new policy for handling public records by creating two processing tracks based upon on the complexity of the request. The new policy is intended to help the City process relatively simple requests quickly and efficiently, without the need to be held up when staff resources are required for large, more complex requests.
Under the policy, city staff are required to use an evaluation sheet to determine whether the request is “routine” or “complex.” The factors considered are:
(1) the general, expansive or all inclusive nature of the request;
(2) the number of departments involved;
(3) the location of records and available method of searching records;
(4) the potential number of records implicated;
(5) the rights of third parties;
(6) the need for clarification of the request;
(7) administrative tasks necessary to process the request;
(8) the amount of time needed to review documents for applicable exemptions;
(9) the need for legal review of the public records request;
(10) the format of relevant records; and
(11) other relevant circumstances
A request that scores 8 points or less on the evaluation sheet is considered a “Routine” request, while a request that scores 9 points or more is considered “Complex.” City staff (i.e. the City Clerk) will then spend 50% of available time processing Routine requests and 50% of available time processing Complex requests. The agenda report describes this policy as being similar to that implemented in grocery stores with “express lanes,” for those customers with a limited number of items.
Pasco’s policy also provides requestors the option to simplify their request in order to jump from the regular lane into the “express lane” and sets forth an appeals process for those requestors who wish to appeal their initial score.
The City Council plans to review the policy in six months to see how it's working and whether further changes are needed.