Counties Support Investigation Protections for Inspectors General

MACo Policy Associate Alex Butler testified February 5, 2020 to support SB 193 (cross filed with HB 380) – Public Information Act – Denial of Part of a Public Record – Investigations by Inspectors General. This bill provides reasonable protections against the release of certain records of investigation conducted by an Inspector General under the Maryland Public Information Act (PIA).

Comparable protections already exist for investigations conducted by the Attorney General, a State’s Attorney, a municipal or county attorney, a police department, or a sheriff. The ability to deny certain requests for these records allows officials to conduct investigations without having their work undermined by the premature release of information critical to their work. 

From the MACo Testimony:

Inspectors General are increasingly used by governments to provide independent oversight of, and investigation into, sensitive materials including whistleblower complaints. These investigations deserve to be conducted without interference. However, under current PIA law, an Inspector General’s investigatory files are subject to disclosure even while still underway, potentially leaving a whistleblower’s identity available to the public. Such disclosure could obviously threaten the effectiveness of whistleblower laws and undermine the investigation.

SB 193 is narrowly crafted to extend existing protections for ongoing investigations to those conducted by Investigators General, granting them the freedom to perform their work, and preserving the integrity of such accountability measures.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2020 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.