February 08, 2007

AZ Bill Would Restrict Public Ombuds' Access

The state's ombudsman-citizens' aide [a classical ombuds] on Tuesday said a bill that would restrict his access to documents that are "protected under federal law" is broad enough to "blindfold" his office. " This position was created because we wanted open government," the official, Patrick Shannahan, told the House Committee on Government, which held the bill for further discussion. "This bill interferes with our ability to accomplish our job." HB 2563, sponsored by Rep. John Nelson, R-Glendale, also would restrict the ombudsman's access to information on government-owned facilities classified as "critical infrastructure." It would amend legislation passed last year expanding the state ombudsman's role to include reviewing public-records disputes between the public and government officials. (Arizona Daily Star.) Although the bill is limited to the Office of Ombudsman-Citizens Aide, it bears watching as a potential bellwether for organizational ombuds in the public sector. (AZ Legislative Info.)

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