Bryan P. Sears//February 2, 2015
//February 2, 2015
Attorney General Brian E. Frosh is promising to make government documents more accessible under the Maryland Public Information Act.
“We want to make government open,” Frosh said during an appearance Friday at the Annapolis Summit hosted by Marc Steiner. “We want to make (government) transparent. We want to make it easy for people to get information. I think my office can help do that.”
As attorney general, Frosh leads what is arguably the state’s largest law firm. The agency’s lawyers advise every state agency on a variety of issues including how to respond to requests filed under the act.
“Part of the attorney general’s job is to get the state to follow the law and I will be doing that,” Frosh said. “I will be encouraging all the assistant attorneys generals to advise all state agencies to do that.”
Last year, the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange vowed to do a better job responding to requests for information after it was reported that it violated state law in three out of every 10 requests. Most of those violations were related to failing to respond within the 30-day period mandated by state law and failing to ask the requester for an extension.
In January, then Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown violated the act when he failed to provide documents requested by The Daily Record. Brown and his staff left office on Jan. 21 having never provided the requested appointment calendars or a reason why the information would be exempt under the law.
Frosh said he hops to prevent unnecessary lawsuits against the state related to not following the act.
“Let’s do it at the outset so we don’t get involved in litigation,” Frosh said. “If we do get sued, before the attorney general finds out about it, we’ll try to resolve the situation before it goes to a judge.”
“That’s not to say that every single request warrants or requires a full response but most of the time the answer should be ‘Yes, we’ll produce it for you in the cheapest, most efficient way possible.”t