Local ordinances governing access to public meetings and public records (commonly referred to as sunshine ordinances) often designate a particular information officer or other employee to field complaints regarding CPRA and Brown Act violations. Aggrieved individuals should ascertain whether their municipality has a sunshine ordinance and, if so, whether the ordinance designates such an individual.
Although the Act does not specifically provide for an ombudsman, the Office of the Attorney General has established an Open Government Mediation Program “to help citizens with questions or concerns about local government’s decisions to close meetings to the public or governmental responses to Open Records requests.” Further information, including a contact name and phone number, is available at: http://law.ga.gov/open-government-mediation-program.
The office of the Ombudsman has statutory authority to "[i]nvestigate, on complaint or on the ombudsman's own motion, any administrative action of any agency, without regard to the finality of the administrative action, except that the ombudsman shall not investigate the complaint of an employee of an agency in regard to that employee's employment relationship with the agency." Iowa Code § 2C.9(1).
Under Chapter 2C, "'Agency' means all governmental entities, departments, boards, commissions, councils or institutions, and any officer, employee or member thereof acting or purporting to act in the exercise of official duties, but it does not include:
a. Any court or judge or appurtenant judicial staff.
b. The members, committees, or permanent or temporary staffs of the Iowa general assembly.
c. The governor of Iowa or the governor's personal staff.
d. Any instrumentality formed pursuant to an interstate compact and answerable to more than one state."
Iowa Code § 2C.1(2).
Thus, it appears that the Citizen's Aide has the statutory authority to investigate a complaint regarding actions taken with respect to the Open Records Law.
The Supervisor of Public Records, an administrative official in the Division of Public Records, which in turn is located within the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, is empowered to rule on the public status of government records held by entities subject to the act. That division generally has an attorney assigned each day to respond to inquiries from the public. To speak to the “Attorney of the Day,” call (617) 828-2832 between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on business days. The office generally declines to provide advisory opinions.
There is no state ombudsman; however, the Vermont Legislature recently considered a measure that would create an independent ombudsman position that would be charged with reviewing records that have been blocked from release to determine whether state agencies are adequately protecting the public’s right to know.