The Inslee administration created a “government shutdown” scare as a political ploy to put pressure on Republicans so they would give in to the Democrats’ demands to raise taxes. Luckily Republicans didn’t cave, but that didn’t stop Inslee from using his government shutdown tactic from illegally witholding public documents.
The Public Records Act requires records requests to be fulfilled with “the most timely possible action on requests” (RCW 42.56.100) and that the records be made available “promptly” (RCW 42.56.080 and 42.56.520). Judicial action can be taken if agencies do not provide a “reasonable estimate” of when the records will be provided. (RCW 42.56.550).
What you won’t find in the Public Records Act is any exception to these rules due to staff dealing with a political scare tactic masquerading as an imminent government shutdown. Time and again, the act recognizes and emphasizes the people’s right to know what their government is doing, and the right to know it in a timely manner. It simply does not allow agencies to devote “all of their time and resources” to a political problem and ignore their duty to the public. OFM needs to reverse this policy and continue working on the people’s business — and respecting the law.