Governor lifts FOIA suspension in place since March

DOVER — Gov. John Carney on Friday lifted the suspension of public records requests imposed more than six months ago, when the first coronavirus case appeared in Delaware.

As part of the state of emergency in place since March 13, the 15-business-day deadline for Freedom of Information Act requests was suspended, and although some agencies have still responded to submissions, albeit in slower fashion, others have halted answering them entirely.

The suspension had drawn criticism from an array of sources, especially Republican politicians, but the state maintained it was necessary to free up resources elsewhere.

“It does raise some really good questions of whether or not we need to change that executive order to have some sort of parameters to say this is really a reasonable amount of time for a person to wait for a public records request,” Mike Brickner, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware, said in August.

With the governor’s newest executive order, now citizens can once again file formal requests for data and other information otherwise unavailable.

“Thank you to all Delawareans who are doing the hard work to get us through this COVID-19 crisis,” Gov. Carney said in a statement. “The vast majority of Delawareans are taking the science seriously and following basic precautions to keep their communities healthy. But we can’t get complacent.

“Please continue to wear a mask in public settings. Avoid large gatherings and wash your hands frequently. That will help us safely get more Delaware children back in school and more Delawareans back to work.”