ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Mayor Richard Berry says a new website should allow the city to better fulfill and track requests for public records.
It will cost the city about $25,000 a year to operate, with help from a private vendor.
But Berry and City Clerk Natalie Howard said they expect the site to make it easier for members of the public to keep tabs on their requests and ensure the city fulfills its legal obligation to release public records.
Berry said transparency is a priority of his administration and that he’s worked to publish records on employee salaries, his city credit-card use and other routine information.
“With that said, we still fall short some days,” the mayor said Tuesday in a news conference.
The new site – www.abqrecords.cabq.gov – should make requesting and finding records more convenient, Berry said.
It includes a form to fill out to request records. The site also points people in the right direction if they make a common request for a record the city doesn’t keep, like marriage certificates, or if the record is already published routinely elsewhere on the city website, such as campaign donations.
People are still free, however, to submit requests in writing or email.
Susan Boe, executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, said her organization saw a preview of the system and came away impressed with the city’s “commitment to streamline the IPRA process. We hope other public bodies in the state, including state agencies, will follow Albuquerque’s example.”
The city receives about 120 public-records requests a week, many from journalists and attorneys.
The city has faced litigation in some cases for its handling of requests.
In January, the former records custodian at the Police Department filed a lawsuit accusing high-ranking police and city officials of ordering him to withhold documents requested in high-profile cases. Also that month, the city settled a lawsuit filed by another former records custodian – in the Animal Welfare Department – who alleged the city had refused to provide him documents he requested.