Public Information Act Session Helps Counties “Stay Out of the News” at #MACoCon

Harford County Associate Judge, David Carey breaks down the ins and outs of processing a Public Information Act request at #MACoCon.

The Academy Core Session: Public Information Act gave MACo Summer Conference attendees another opportunity to earn core credits towards the completion of a certificate from the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance.

Judge Carey prefaced this session by highlighting the increasing importance of getting PIA requests right. “The legislation is getting more and more complicated and there are a number of pitfalls you need to avoid to stay out of the news.”

This course dispelled many of the fears associated with mismanaging a request but also focused on ways to make fulfillment as seamless as possible. The content began with covering the basics of the PIA as well as new legislation. He went on by detailing the type and scope of allowable information, eligible requestors, sufficiency of search, all manners of exemptions, and deadlines.

One major takeaway focused on not just the technical components of fulfilling a request properly, but actually adopting a customer service approach in the process. Judge Carey reiterated, “When an inquiry comes in you should respond immediately, even if it’s just to confirm receipt. Let them know the timeline and, above all, don’t pass the buck. If information is needed from another department then call that department yourself.”

In essence, help them help you by simply managing their expectations on the process and keeping them updated. If they know you are working with them to fulfill the request then both parties will likely have a favorable experience.

This session was open to fellows in the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance all as well as all registered #MACoCon attendees.

  • Speaker: David Carey, Associate Judge, Harford County

  • Moderator: The Honorable Charles Burkett, Commissioner, Washington County

The session was held on August 20, 2022, at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, MD.

More about MACo’s Summer Conference: