Below is a press release from the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information. The editor of this site, Christine Stuart, is a member of the organization.

Connecticut’s freedom of information laws need to be expanded and the state’s Freedom of Information Commission given more autonomy, a consortium of media outlets said today.

The Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information (CCFOI), a group primarily comprised of broadcast and print media outlets statewide, today called on the General Assembly to change current laws so the public will get a clearer picture of often hidden government actions.

CCFOI, which has continually urged the Legislature to force judges to allow cameras and all electronic media into courtrooms, today called for opening all backroom Judiciary administrative functions to the public.

“Anything related to the internal operations of the Judiciary should be open to the public, just as similar operations at other departments in our state government must be open to the public,” said Vincent Michael Valvo, president of CCFOI and editor of The Hartford Business Journal.  “Judiciary Department budgeting, accounting, rule-making, personnel, facilities, physical operations, docketing and scheduling should be open to public review.  Currently, they are usually not.”

“It is time for open government to be mandated by law and no longer left to the whim of a judge who may not want the public to know about disciplinary proceedings against another judge or even how the department arrives at its spending requests,” he said.  “Our freedoms can only be preserved if our government is open to the critical eye of our citizens.”

In another matter related to open government, CCFOI also calls on the legislature to allow public scrutiny of state contracts with managed health care organizations, Valvo said.  “Any time the government enters into a contract with a private organization, there is the potential for abuse.  Allowing these health contracts to be made public will help guard against abuse and help keep citizens informed about now secret operations of our government.”

Finally, CCFOI called on the legislature to separate the state Freedom of Information Commission from the Department of Administrative Services (DAS), which has budgetary supervision of the Freedom of Information Commission.

“Currently, DAS can exercise considerable control over the operations of the Freedom of Information Commission by determining staffing and even salaries,” Valvo said.  For the Freedom of Information Commission to operate properly, it needs its own freedom.  Separation of the FOI Commission from the DAS is an important step toward that end.