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Many North Carolina municipalities have ignored public index law

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  1. Freedom of Information
Multiple North Carolina municipalities have not created or maintained an index of public databases more than a decade after a…

Multiple North Carolina municipalities have not created or maintained an index of public databases more than a decade after a law was passed requiring them to do so, The Garner Citizen reported.

The 1997 state law requires most cities, towns, and public agencies to create and update an index of all computer databases so citizens know which records a certain agency manages. The index must also disclose a list of any data field that is restricted from public access.

The Garner Citizen submitted a formal open records request for the indexes of more than a dozen municipalities in North Carolina, including Garner, over a month ago. Since the request, Garner officials said nearly 50 hours have been spent attempting to compile the index because complying with the law on a day-to-day basis is too costly.

Though there is no government body that oversees enforcement of the index law specifically and requests for the data are rare, public records advocates say keeping up with the indexes on a routine basis — not once a request is filed — was the intention of the law when it was drafted.