Assembly approves Yee's open-governmentBy Tanya Schevitz
A bill by state Sen. Leland Yee that would prohibit state or local agencies from agreeing with an outside entity to keep public information secret is headed to the governor.
The bill, SB1696, was passed unanimously Monday by the state Assembly. It next goes to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has 12 days to sign it or veto it.
The bill says that a state or local agency cannot use the excuse of a confidentiality agreement or contract with an outside entity to control the release of information that is public under the state's Public Records Act.
Yee, D-San Francisco, introduced the proposed law after UCSF refused in January to give The Chronicle an independent review of its finances, citing objections of the accounting firm that conducted the work. The university also refused to provide even the name of the firm hired by the university for $165,000 to carry out the review. The audit was eventually made public after UCSF secured authorization from the private accounting firm.
Yee said that this bill was necessary to ensure that public entities cannot use confidentiality agreements with private parties to get around the public records laws.
"If you use taxpayers' money, you can't keep the info away from them," he said.
The bill was approved in April by the state Senate with only one senator voting against it.
Copyright ©2008 San Francisco Chronicle. Published 06/24/2008.