The proposed bill to exempt nonprofits from certain aspects of the Freedom of Information Act is the right way to go.
It clearly requires the nonprofit receiving public money to submit expenditure reports to the awarding agency. This information is then available to the public by FOIA request.
If the nonprofit shows the money received was spent in accordance with the requirements of the awarding agency, how, as David Lauderdale asserts in a recent column, is this “closing the public’s direct access to public information.” I argue that the public’s knowledge as to whether their money was spent appropriately, or not, is the extent of what the public has the right to know about the nonprofit’s business operations.
Imagine the situation when every grant-receiving nonprofit must now act as a “public body” under the FOIA. Board meetings must be publicly announced and be open to the public. Boards and executive management will be forced into the often-maligned world of the “executive session” to discuss “contractual matters” or “personnel matters.”
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None of this will be healthy for our nonprofits that, from my experience, do great work in our community, and beyond. Their administrative and legal costs will surely rise and money available for the primary mission will decrease. And for what? At the end of the day, the public still gets the same financial audit. What are they missing out on?
I support the bill.
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