Public records requests go public, as Iowa State enacts transparency recommendations

Yesterday, officials began posting online the public records requests Iowa State receives. Tomorrow, the university will host a hearing for those who want to comment on the agenda for the Oct. 23-24 state Board of Regents meeting.

Both measures follow through on recent recommendations (PDF) of a regents-appointed task force on transparency.  The task force studied transparency and openness at Iowa's regents schools and offered recommendations, which were subsequently adopted by the regents at their Aug. 8 meeting.

Iowa State officials have since reviewed and complied with those recommendations, said associate vice president and chief of staff Miles Lackey.

"Iowa State has a good reputation for openness and readiness to provide information to both press and public," Lackey said. "Across this campus, people go out of their way to find answers for students, parents, media, Iowans and many others who seek information."

Following are ISU's responses to transparency "best practices" endorsed by the regents.

Log and post online all public records requests

On Oct. 16, officials began posting public records requests to Iowa State's public records log. The log currently contains 11 requests that were filed on campus from Sept. 1-30. Records requests will be posted to the site on the 16th and last day of each month, unless those dates are weekends or holidays. In such cases, posts will occur the first workday after the scheduled dates.

The phrase "public records" usually references the Iowa Public Records Law, Chapter 22 of the Iowa Code. The law states that most documents held by government agencies, like Iowa State, are public. An online Q&A explains the law and how to make a public records request to an Iowa State department.

Iowa State departments receive an estimated 200 public records requests annually.

Prior to each regents meeting, hold public hearings at each regents school and the board office

Iowa State's first public hearing is Friday, Oct. 18 (noon-1 p.m., Memorial Union Oak Room).  At the hearing, individuals can comment on any items scheduled for discussion at the Oct. 23-24 regents meeting in Iowa City.  An Iowa State official staffing the hearing will video record comments, which subsequently will be posted to the regents' hearings website.

A schedule for all regents schools and board office public hearings through 2014 is available on the regents website.

Name a transparency officer

Assistant to the president Shirley Knipfel has been appointed Iowa State's transparency officer. In that post, Knipfel will maintain and track public records requests and oversee public hearings held prior to regents meetings.

Establish a transparency page on each of the regents' schools and board office site.

Iowa State's transparency page includes links to public records information, regents' public hearing dates and Iowa State news and information sources.