January's audit of Maryland emergency management offices marks the third time in seven years that government agencies have performed poorly when it comes to responding to requests for public information.
In 2000, auditors organized by the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association were denied 50 percent of the time when they asked county offices for several common records, including nursing home inspection reports, the school superintendent's contract and routine police logs.
In 2003, the press association sent out auditors to 15 state agencies. Requested documents were released only about 60 percent of the time. Many auditors faced interrogation about who they were and why they wanted the documents.
After each audit, the state attorney general's office stepped up training efforts in an effort to improve compliance. Attorney General Douglas Gansler, elected last November, said his office remains a proponent of open government just as it was under J. Joseph Curran Jr., who did not seek re-election.