For the second time in two days CalAware has been asked to react to the response to a Public Records Act request seeking current information about an event to be sponsored by a public agency, the problem being that the response assumes that the request need not be fulfilled until the event is completed.
One requester was told by the California Department of Social Services on August 31, in response to his request made on August 25:
This letter is in response to your California Public Records Act request for a line-item budget for the 2017 Refugee Summit from the Family Engagement and Empowerment Division of the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). At this time, the CDSS is unable to be responsive to your request and provide you with the line-item budget. The 2017 Refugee Summit is currently taking place in San Diego, concluding August 31, 2017. Once the event has concluded and a reconciliation is processed with the CDSS and the Summit facility is completed, the Department will provide you with the requested information.
The other requester on July 27 had asked Cathedral City for “the up to date budget/expense list for the Tejano Music Fest. Please include any donors for this event.” On August 30 the response was:
The Public Records Act allows any member of the public to request a copy of an existing document. What you are requesting is information on an event that has not taken place. Once the event has taken place and we are able to reconcile all of the expenditures and have all contributions in we will be happy to provide you with the final expenditure list.
In both cases providing information after the event would, among other things, allow the agency to conceal either the fact that the event had gone over budget (and by what amounts, due to what excessive expenses or income shortfalls) or that the event’s only budget was created after the fact.
The Public Records Act entitles these requesters to precisely what they requested—a snapshot of related records as of a date certain—not some massaged after action report.