To the People Reviewing My FOIL Requests: An Apology

Dear Records Access Officers,

Hi. I’m the person who’s responsible for coming up with two FOIL requests that might be proving bothersome to you.

I tried my best to be as clear and concise in my initial requests: providing dates, names, even links to finding aids and record entries in the State Library catalog. Maybe I should have been a bit more clear about the fact that I was requesting information on missing records. Records that maybe aren’t supposed to be missing.

Sorry about that.

While I’ve never been in your exact shoes, I was once tasked with finding information for random, impatient people who asked for information on things that I personally thought were silly and/or useless — probably what you think of my requests.

I’ve been there.

I know.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not equating my little experiences with your massive task of reviewing official government records. My non-profit minutiae was nothing compared to the hellscape of bureaucratic nonsense and angry correspondence you likely deal with on a daily basis.

(On second thought, we probably have angry correspondence in common.)

You have the onerous task of maintaining government accessibility and transparency. You are to be commended. You should also get a raise.

Anyhoo, I am sorry for asking you seek out records pertaining to an agency that was recently under investigation by the State’s Inspector General for mismanagement and poor leadership. I had no idea. Honest! I mean, I know the State hasn’t always kept a keen eye on the agency that created these records. Hopefully another investigation hasn’t gotten under way and your search isn’t complicated by additional hoops to jump through or anxious administrators stonewalling your work.

I am sorry for asking you to identify the provenance of a collection of records that might have been transferred to an outside organization via unclear means. One doesn’t expect to think “Hey! We’re missing some pretty important stuff and… there’s no clear reason why! WTF?” when starting a seemingly routine FOIL request.

I know how much it sucks to look for records that should be there and find that they’re not. However, there could be totally good, perfectly valid, nominally acceptable reasons why things were transferred or why some things went missing. Administrative oopsies happen.

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Things just seemed fishy  to me and I wanted you to find the source of the smell. Sorry if the funk was overwhelming.

You had twenty business days to respond to my requests and you were very kind when I inquired (by phone and email) about the silence I received when that period ended. I hope the extra few weeks were enough.

Thanks for your service and sorry for the tough search.

Regards,

The annoying person who’ll be calling in a few days to see how things are going.

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