Q&A: Denial of request for proposals

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From The Indianapolis Star:

Q: The Hoosier Lottery won’t provide us with access to proposals submitted by companies interested in privately managing the lottery, despite a statement in their own request for information that says they are public record “once submitted.”

Do lottery official have a basis to deny our request?

A: Different rules apply depending on the statute that a government unit is using to make a purchase or contract for a service.

Most government reporters are familiar with the “competitive bidding” process. County commissioners use this to purchase gravel, asphalt, etc., for the year.

Under this statute, the bids are opened during a public meeting, and all the proposals should be available for inspection and copying after the bids are opened. See IC 5-22-7-6.

But the government unit may be relying on other purchasing processes – ones that allow the government unit to keep the initial proposals confidential while it negotiates with the bidders to improve the agreement to the benefit of taxpayers.

In each case, the government unit is required to maintain and create certain records, which become available for public inspection and copying at a later date.

A reporter needs to check with the public agency to see which process it is using to determine what records are accessible and when.

I expect the lottery records will fall under one of these:

• Negotiated Bidding (IC 5-22-7.3-9)

• Request for Proposals (IC 5-22-9-5)

• Public-Private Agree­ments (IC 5-23-5-6 and IC 5-23-5-9).

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.

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