PRR to OUS: Board members use of private email addresses

OUS board members currently use private email addresses to conduct public business. This means you can't get information about internal discussions about public business. This is a PR request for information on how to fix this.:

Dear Chancellor Pernsteiner and Mr. Hagemann:

Nearly 2 months ago I asked your General Counsel Mr. Pernsteiner about OUS board members use of private email addresses for official business, as the message below explains. I've made several follow up attempts to get information from him on this, without any response.

Given this, I am making a public records request for copies of any memos, email, or other documents which address this topic that have been sent or received by yourself, Mr. Hagemann, or Mr. Kelly. If these communications include advice from the Oregon AG's office, I ask that you waive attorney client privilege. I ask for a fee waiver, on the basis of general public interest in the question of whether use of private email is appropriate for public officials conducting public business, as demonstrated by the many national press stories about the Sarah Palin controversy and, if you are a techy, by the many internet posts on President Obama's efforts to keep his Blackberry.

In President Barack Obama's inauguration speech he made a point of calling for government to "do our business in the light of day." His first act as President was to order substantial reforms to the FOIA rules. As you know, Oregon's public records law does not impose any particular time limit on state agencies. However, the laws of most other states do, and the median limit is 5 working days.

Given this, I ask Chancellor Pernsteiner to respect the spirit of our new President's first official act, and order his General Council Hagemann to produce these documents within 5 working days - the same period that would apply in most of the rest of the United States.


Bill Harbaugh
Economics, University of Oregon


I also note that the OUS board website at still does not include recent board minutes. The most recent minutes are from December, 2005. I know from talking with Mr. Hagemann that he does not have staff time available for transcribing the minutes. I suggest that as a short-run solution you simply post mp3's of the meetings.

Begin forwarded message:

From: Bill Harbaugh
Date: December 4, 2008 11:06:43 CEST
To: Ryan Hagemann
Cc: George Pernsteiner , "Paul Kelly Jr."
Subject: OUS board use of private email addresses, a la Sarah Palin.

Dear Mr Hagemann:

I'm writing to ask about the use of private email addresses by OUS board members when conducting OUS business.

As you may recall this question was one of great importance in the recent presidential election, when it came out that Sarah Palin and many of her staff did this as a matter of course, apparently in an effort to make their communications exempt from public record requests.

My impression is that this practice is also widespread among OUS Board members.

I would appreciate it if you could let me know whether this is allowed under OUS policy, and if not I hope that you will address the issue with the board, and cc me on the memo.


Bill Harbaugh
Economics, University of Oregon