California Public Records Act Ombudsman Proposed

A California State Assemblyman is on the cusp of proposing a measure to require that the state employ a public records ombudsman to review denials under the California Public Records Act (CPRA).  As currently drafted, the CPRA provides a court challenge option for records denials, but leaves the decision on whether a requested record should be released up to the agency.  Oftentimes, the person who determined the records request should be denied is also the final arbiter of what should be released.  As reported in the Los Angeles Times, the bill being considered would present requestors with the option of have a second party (the ombudsman) review agency denials.  A model for how this could work is available at the federal level where requestors have the right to administratively appeal agency denials.  The measure being considered in California is slightly different than the federal process as, on the federal level, the agency that issued the denial handles the appeal (albeit at a higher level internally than the department that issued the first denial) and the California law under consideration is contemplating the creation of a new government position empowered to review denials government-wide.  For more information on the federal administrative appeals process check the FOIA Wiki.