CCFOI Meeting Minutes – Dec. 16, 2020

The meeting was by Zoom.

Present: Mike Savino, Kimberly Phillips, George Lombardi, Gary Gold, Michele Jacklin, Liz Gemski, Mitch Pearlman, Matt Kauffman, Colleen Murphy, Mary Connolly.

The minutes of the Nov. 18, 2020 meeting were accepted.

Treasurer’s report: Phillips reported a balance of $7,838.35.

Updating status of CCFOI accounts: A motion was made to make Kimberly Phillips DeBaise a signatory on the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information’s Webster checking account, No. 0010184662, and remove outgoing treasurer George Lombardi as a signatory on the Webster account. Jim Smith, former CCFOI president, will be removed as a signatory. CCFOI member Mitchell Pearlman will remain the second signatory on the Webster account. This authorization also makes Kimberly Phillips DeBaise and Mitchell Pearlman signatories for all other accounts to which CCFOI are a party. The motion was unanimously approved.

Legislative report: Gemski said the legislature continues to plan how it will function in the continuing pandemic. It will limit bills this session and won’t allow large numbers of people into the building. She said the real focus will be on budget funding gaps.

Following up on our decision at the November meeting to invite Secretary of the State Denise Merrill to participate in our December Zoom meeting, Gemski several times contacted her office to offer an invitation. There was no response. We are interested in discussing her proposals on absentee voting and public access to voter information.

President’s report: Savino reported on a meeting with Jeff Daniels and professors who are knowledgeable on the use of algorithms as part of state consolidation and modernization. Obviously, there are concerns about transparency around any algorithms that are adopted in making state decisions. There was discussion that a report by the Office of Legislative Research would be useful, if requested by a legislator. Gemski said we don’t have enough information to start that process.

Murphy will contact FOI colleagues in other states to check what they are doing on the use of algorithms and artificial intelligence. It also was agreed that requiring a catalog of algorithms would be a good step to bring transparency to the process of using artificial intelligence in state government decisions.

CCFOI 2021 legislative agenda: We finalized our agenda: (1) Public hearings should be required when any legislative proposal includes an exemption from the FOI Act; (2) A catalog should be established on the use of algorithms and artificial intelligence in state government decisions; (3) On defense, we will be watching any proposals on the newly adopted police transparency and accountability law, access to voter information, and the FOIC budget.

Looking ahead: The next CCFOI meeting will be Jan. 20, 2021, at noon, via Zoom.