Resources for public records requesters and help for agencies in understanding the law
OLYMPIA — Today Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that his office has updated its online Open Government Resource Manual summarizing Washington’s sunshine laws.
The 2015 publication modernizes the prior manual to reflect the past several years’ developments in the state’s Public Records Act and Open Public Meetings Act, and court decisions interpreting those laws. The manual was last revised in 2007.
“I am committed to enhancing transparency in government,” Ferguson said. “Open government is vital to a free and informed society, and this updated guide will help both public officials and the people they serve understand our state’s public disclosure laws.”
The manual includes summaries of and links to relevant statutes, court decisions, formal Attorney General Opinions, and Public Records Act Model Rules.
Assistant Attorney General Nancy Krier, Open Government Ombuds, coordinated the work to update the manual. Several co-authors and editors also volunteered their time, including: Bob Meinig, Legal Consultant with the Municipal Research and Services Center; Kristal Wiitala, attorney and Public Records Officer for the Department of Social and Health Services; and Katherine George, attorney at the Harrison-Benis law firm.
The 2015 manual is available on the Attorney General’s Open Government Web page at www.atg.wa.gov/open-government-resource-manual.
The Office of the Attorney General also provides training under the state’s Public Records Act and the Open Public Meetings Act. Other AGO online resources include an open government training page, including training videos, Model Rules, links to other resources, and more.
In 2013, Ferguson established the Open Government Ombuds as a full-time position. In 2014, Ferguson’s agency-request legislation strengthening Washington’s open government laws by requiring training for public officials was signed into law.
The training law applies to elected and appointed members of school boards, library districts, fire protection districts, conservation districts, water districts, flood districts, transportation benefit districts, housing authorities, and hospital districts, as well as city councils, county commissions and other local and state agencies.
More than 3,000 people attended in-person trainings with the AGO Ombuds in 2014, and more than 1,500 people have been trained so far in 2015. The AGO online training videos have nearly 20,000 combined views.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Attorney General Bob Ferguson is working hard to protect consumers and seniors against fraud, keep our communities safe, protect our environment and stand up for our veterans. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Peter Lavallee, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; PeterL@atg.wa.gov