The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has demanded $11,071 in response to a public records request from CNN regarding the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Flint, MI that sickened 87 and killed nine individuals.
The invoiced amount was requested in order to “prepare” any emails and documents that involved the discussion Legionnaires’ disease among state officials.
Jim Henry, Health Director of Genesee County allegedly told CNN at one point that the severity of the outbreak may have been reduced had the state health department stepped in to help the local health department locate the source. The source is currently believed to be the Flint River.
Part of the reason for the high cost for retrieving the Legionnaires’ disease records is the lack of a central data system. Searching for any and all documents becomes a more difficult and time-consuming task.
Simply locating all documents would supposedly cost $9,000 and then copying fees would be an additional $2,000.
Calls for transparency have been coming from multiple fronts including Governor Snyder and non-governmental entities such as the Michigan Coalition for Open Government, a non-profit group that promotes transparency.
Jane Briggs-Bunting, president of the Michigan Coalition for Open Government notes that a common complaint about Michigan records requests is the high fee associated with obtaining records.
“They charge $20 for two seconds of work,” she said. “If a fee is too high, people don’t pursue the records, and the public stays in the dark.”
To read more about this story, please click here.