I received the following letter from the NIGP’s DC-based counsel, informing me that they will not be releasing copies of either the forensic audit or related studies/recommendations concerning the non-profit’s practices.
While I will direct you to read the letter from Venable LLP for the full details, the basis for refusing my request is as follows:
- the Florida Open Records Law does not apply to the NIGP,
- the materials are confidential and proprietary to the NIGP,
- the “Audit was issued under the protection of attorney-client privilege and,
- the requested documents are subject to a nondisclosure agreement.
The law firm – which is one of the top ranked firms in the country – closed with the following suggestion; “we strongly discourage you from attempting to solicit this information from individual members of the NIGP Governing board, past and present.”
While I do not know what is in the audit and related material, the refusal to provide copies does raise some serious questions. Especially given that the NIGP is responsible for educating public sector procurement professionals, who themselves are required to operate in an environment of full transparency. In short, how can you preach and teach transparency, when you don’t practice it yourself.
Despite the response from the NIGP’s legal counsel, I am going to continue to pursue this matter.
Based on my research, even though the NIGP is not a governmental agency, I believe that they still fall under Florida’s open docs act, as the organization appears to meet the non-agency criteria and considerations requirements.
The fact that the NIGP is a membership-based organization whose members are governmental agencies, and is governed through said membership, is something else that I will note in my request. After all, without these members, the NIGP would not exist.
Finally, there is also a direct and undeniable connection to tax-payer funding, as well as the tax exempt status under which the NIGP currently operates.
Suffice to say, I will make reference to these key points when I file my submission with the Great State of Florida.
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