Privatization v. The Public's Right to Know

August 1, 2007

From driving school buses to training Iraqi police, the private sector is increasingly responsible for the duties once held by the government.

But as those responsibilities leave the government's hands, is the public's right of access going along with them?

Privatization v. the public's right to know
Privatization is on the rise, but public access laws have yet to catch up -- shielding important organizations from media scrutiny.

Public records, private control
Government bodies that contract out their record-keeping can add a whole new layer of difficulty to gaining access.

Confusion in the courts
For journalists seeking records, judicial rulings on privatization can leave more questions than answers

Courtroom success stories
The news for media and others fighting to gain access to records and meetings is not all dire.

Delay tactics
A public records audit by the Reporters Committee found that even when a public records law provides for access to contractor records, actual compliance is low.

Public access laws in your state
A guide for public records requesters and privatization in every state.

Cases, articles and other links
Newspaper articles, court decisions and other online resources mentioned in this guide.


This report was researched and written by Reporters Committee journalism fellow Rani Gupta.
It was made possible by a grant from the McCormick Tribune Foundation.

Thanks to The Associated Press for permission to use photos from its files.

© 2007 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press