COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – The state Office of Inspector General has used the past two years to study 35 state agencies to see if they’re complying with the state’s open records law.
When the inspector general was appointed in 2017 by Gov. Henry McMaster, it was a priority to ensure state agencies were held accountable and being transparent.
Thursday afternoon, McMaster and Inspector General Brian Lamkin unveiled the results of an open records study that looked at how transparent state agencies are.
Lamkin explained the criteria for the study. “First thing we did we looked at what was publicly available on the website which is what the law says. you must post your fee schedule on the website that was our own research what was there if we had to dig down and find something. “
A new law passed in 2017 requires limited fees for open records requests and for agencies to respond to a request within 10 days. Before this law agencies had 15 days to reply to a request.
“It’s only when the public has access to records a quick affordable low cost access to the records the citizens who are interested can get those records and make up their own minds,” said Governor McMaster.
The report found that two thirds of the state’s agencies are responding to open records requests within the time frame designated by law.
The law also requires the fees for those requests to not exceed the hourly wage of the lowest paid employee fulfilling the request..
Governor McMaster says this transparency is necessary to create trust between the citizens and government.
McMaster continued, “What kind of correspondence took place, what sort of requests, who held these meetings, where they were held, who was invited, all those types of things need to be easily available. “
In response to this report, the governor issued an executive order requiring the cabinet agencies to submit a thorough review of the agency’s open records procedures by the end of the year.
Governor McMaster is also pushing for political offices to also be required to have open records.
Law does not currently require the same kind of transparency for legislators.