There’s just a different mindset in government…
I won’t name the government involved in this story because it could have been any of them. This is just a typical example. Several weeks ago there was a board meeting where a presentation was given. The presentation was about some possible changes they are considering.
Being the curious, informed citizen that I am, I emailed the government employee who gave the presentation and asked for a copy of it. “Sure! No problem!” he said…
Over a week later, I get a note from another employee of the government telling me that my Open Records Request is ready for pickup and it will be $3. Grrrr… bear in mind that this was a PowerPoint that was presented at a public meeting. Is there any rational reason why they couldn’t just email it to me and save the paper and expense? Instead, it takes a week to involve multiple employees (at least 4 that I had to interact with) and costs to print it. I had to drive over there and pick it up. All for a PowerPoint that was undoubtedly on the original employees computer that he could have emailed in 15 seconds.
I do understand why they print emails and other documents when I request them. They need to review them and they want to make sure they are not manipulated. But this time I asked for something that was presented at a public meeting. It shouldn’t be that hard.
I’m not done…
That was annoying enough, but then I get the presentation – the printed PowerPoint. There are no less than nine embedded links to other documents in it. The PowerPoint would say something like, “Here are the findings and recommendations” and have a link to them. The PowerPoint is virtually useless without the documents behind it.
I try to put myself in the other guy’s shoes… if my boss or customer asked me for a presentation I did in which the PowerPoint was merely an outline that links to the actual data, I would either ask my boss or customer if they wanted that information too, or I would just provide it as a matter of course. The clear intent of the request was to be informed and the PowerPoint without the linked documentation does not inform.
But no. I asked for the presentation and that is exactly what I received – printed and over a week later. No more. No less. No thought. No notion of customer service. No effort to do anything more than the bare minimum required.
Now, to be informed, I will have to make another request that will undoubtedly take the time and effort of another 4 or more employees and a couple more weeks. Wasted time. Wasted effort. I might have something to say about what I get a month or more after it actually happened. All of this to get to information that was public presented and could have been sent to anyone interested – or, Heaven forbid, posted on the government’s website – within seconds.