In Alaska, public records don't run cheap

Jordan Zappala | Freedom of Information | Quicklink | October 20, 2008

Despite having enough cash to increase its spending budget to $11 billion, Alaska is offering few cut rates to those requesting public records,The Associated Press reported

Although the state will on occasion waive fees for less than 200 pages of copied material or if the information requested is considered a matter of public interest, Alaska's senior assistant attorney general told The AP that times were changing.

"State agencies cannot foresee every exceptional circumstance that might make a waiver in the public interest," Ruth Hamilton Heese wrote the wire service in an e-mail. "In the current budget climate, however, cost is a very important element of the decision."

To dig through state employees' e-mail, the going rate now is $960.31 per account -- a total derived from multiplying a technology worker's hourly wage of $74 by 13, the number of hours the state thinks each task would take.  If all 16,000 state employee's accounts were searched for correspondence with Gov. Sarah Palin's husband Todd - as several news groups recently have requested - the state could charge more than $14 million.

Alaskan officials told The AP that requests for state records have multiplied since Sen. John McCain chose Palin to be his running mate.