ON-Lion Letter

In January, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) in Milwaukee joined other organizations, newspapers, and the public in expressing frustration with the August decision of Wisconsin's Public Records Board to expand the definition of "transitory records," which allows public officials to abuse government-records retention policy.

According to the board, "transitory records" are of such "temporary usefulness" that they require no retention period at all, and they may therefore be instantly deleted.  In August, it significantly -- and secretly -- expanded the definition of "transitory," which has already been used to justify the deletion of text messages and other records.

WILL submitted a letter to the board expressing deep concern that the guidance and expanded definition of "transitory" gives too much latitude in determining which records to retain. 

“Allowing government officials to subjectively determine whether a particular government record can be destroyed is an invitation to abuse," according to WILL deputy counsel Thomas Kamenick in the letter.  "There is no meaningful oversight of the destruction of records, and no enforcement mechanism like there is for the Open Records Law.  Giving officials such discretion robs the sovereign people of their right to oversee government action."

Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation substantially supports WILL.

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