AP: Tennessee officials told to avoid emailing about outsourcing

From the Associated Press, by way of the Chattanooga Times Free Press – a story about government email:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Officials mulling over the privatization of operations at state buildings, college campuses, prisons and armories are being discouraged from putting their thoughts into emails.

Terry Cowles, who is in charge of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s office of Strategies for Efficiency in Real Estate Management, or SEREM, told reporters Tuesday that the group “put that control in place” to prevent the release of what he called premature or incorrect information.

“We want to provide you all and the public with as much information as we can, but we have to have some opportunity to make sure in fact that what we’re providing is the right information,” he said.

Democratic State Sen. Jeff Yarbro said avoiding written communication is an effort to circumvent open records laws.

“It looks like the whole administration is avoiding the law against keeping secret the formation of public policy decisions,” Yarbro said.

Records obtained by WTVF-TV in Nashville last month included a timetable for outsourcing state facilities that appeared at odds with the governor’s public assertion that any decision on whether even to proceed with privatization was still months away.

Cowles called the released timetable a “very early draft” that has no bearing on current considerations.

Read the full story: Tennessee officials told to avoid emailing about outsourcing

See also Commercial Appeal reporter Richard Locker’s story: State lawmakers hear report on governor’s facilities-management outsourcing project for first time

What do you think?