Open Records Request Process Follow-up
The Mayor’s Office fully implemented two recommendations made in the original audit report, but 12 others have yet to be fully implemented or acted upon.
While the Mayor’s Office provided a template to help agencies implement an online form, it fell short in helping agencies increase information online. Additionally, the office disagreed with monitoring open records request information annually and sharing the results publicly. Without clear rules, guidelines, monitoring, or a section for frequently asked questions, the public may continue to struggle with submitting open records requests. This could lead to increased public mistrust of local government and the continued lack of transparency on the effectiveness of open records requests citywide.
The office also said it would continue to update and provide written guidelines and training sessions to agencies. Although the office implemented most of the recommendations related to providing policies and procedures, it did not provide such guidance until our follow-up work was well underway — about 10 months after the agreed-upon implementation dates. The Mayor’s Office’s lateness resulted in the office issuing the guidance piecemeal, under different formats, and at different times. Not having guidance readily available in one, combined document may hinder consistency, the timeliness of responses to records requests, and cross-training of agency communications directors.
With up-to-date policies and procedures, city agencies can continue building public trust by providing effective, efficient, transparent, and equitable ways to obtain information. These policies and procedures also help agencies more easily comply with the state’s open records act.
November 4, 2021
In keeping with generally accepted government auditing standards and Auditor’s Office policy, as authorized by city ordinance, the Audit Services Division has a responsibility to monitor and follow up on audit recommendations to ensure city agencies address audit findings through appropriate corrective action and to aid us in planning future audits.
In our follow-up effort for the “Open Records Request Process” audit report issued in May 2020, we determined the Mayor’s Office fully or partially implemented eight of the nine recommendations it agreed to in the original audit report but did so 10 months late as we performed this audit follow-up. Despite the Mayor’s Office’s efforts, auditors determined some important risks associated with the audit team’s initial findings about insufficient transparency and guidance for the public have not been fully mitigated. As a result, the Audit Services Division may revisit these risk areas in future audits to ensure the city takes appropriate corrective action.
The Highlights page in this report provides background and summary information about the original audit and the completed follow-up effort. Following the Highlights page is a detailed implementation status update for each recommendation. We did not update the status of the five recommendations the Mayor’s Office disagreed with, as the Mayor’s Office presumably would not have acted toward implementing those. However, we include these recommendations in the status update section as a reference.
I would like to express our sincere appreciation to the personnel at the Mayor’s Office who assisted us throughout the audit and the follow-up process. For any questions, please feel free to contact me at 720-913-5000.
Timothy O'Brien, CPA
AUDITOR TIMOTHY O'BRIEN, CPA
Denver Auditor´s Office
201 W. Colfax Ave. #705 Denver, CO 80202
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