Gov-Access.org Your Public Access

Welcome to the new and improved version 2.0 (October 15, 2011) of the Gov-Access.org website (a project of Access Advocates Inc.) containing government employee and telephone directories obtained from various state, county and local public agencies pursuant to the California Public Records Act (CPRA) or through other sources. The directories are mostly posted in the same format in which they were received from the agency (although some were changed to Word or PDF) and since these directories are government records for which no copyright may be claimed, they may be freely downloaded, used or further distributed by other members of the public for any lawful purpose. As part of our 2.0 upgrade, we have added a few paragraphs containing major web page links listing various California Public Agencies by their type of agency or category of government business.  We also uploaded an additional 20 or so Local, County, or State Employee or Telephone Directories, and listed several of the shaky legal grounds chosen by various California Public Agencies to deny our current and previous CPRA requests.

 

We also inserted a few new paragraphs detailing several other state's online Employee and Telephone Directories, including those Directories with unrestricted access to their employee's Direct Telephone Numbers or Email Addresses, including the online California State Telephone Directory  (see below) which incidentally, declines or neglects to list thousands of current state employees and their contact information.

 

Staff at Gov-Access.org believe that in addition to the cumbersome and time-consuming USPS (snail) mail and oftentimes unreadable fax transmissions (which numbers we are not seeking due in part to fax numbers’ antiquated technology), members of our group and all other members of the public have both California Statutory and Constitutional rights to also communicate with our public servants by the following two methods:

 

Direct Email Communication

Direct Telephone Access

 

Thus we are assembling this website to contain a comprehensive listing of the most important California Public Agency Employee and Telephone Directories so as to assist "We the People" in easily identifying and contacting our appropriate public servants through the most efficient and timely means now available, i.e., by direct phone contact or via email messages. 

 

As additional directories are received through further electronic CPRA requests emailed to other California Public Agencies, those directories will be uploaded and posted to this site forthwith.

 

We eventually intend to post all of the Employee or Telephone Directories for each of California's 58 counties (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_counties_in_California) and the 482 Incorporated Cities and Towns in California, of which 460 are officially called Cities and 22 are called Towns (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_incorporated_cities_and_towns_in_California). We will be seeking to place online many of the below-referenced Employee or Telephone Directories (of the estimated 9,000 Local, County and California Public Agency Employee & Telephone Directories subject to disclosure under the CPRA), including the 360 most important California State Departments, Divisions, Bureaus, Boards, and Commissions as listed on this website (http://www.ca.gov/casearch/agencies.aspx); many of the 371 Independent State, County, City, College & University, School and Special Law Enforcement Agency Employee or Telephone Directories (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_law_enforcement_agencies_in_California) (especially those not included or adequately listed in the Incorporated City or California County Directories we post online); many of the 237 Independent Water District Employee or Telephone Directories (http://cluster3.lib.berkeley.edu/WRCA/district.html); many of the 1,033 Independent School District Employee or Telephone Directories (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_school_districts_in_California_by_county); many of the 77 Community College District Employee or Telephone Directories (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Community_Colleges_System); many of the 78 Independent Local Park & Recreation District Employee or Telephone Directories (http://www.carpd.net/Members.html); and many Employee or Telephone Directories from other California Special Districts (http://www.csda.net/images/stories/membership/csdafactsheet.pdf), including many of the 372 Fire Protection District Employee or Telephone Directories, many of the 252 Community Cemetery District Employee or Telephone Directories, many of the 156 Reclamation Services District Employee or Telephone Directories, many of the 96 Resource Conservation District Employee or Telephone Directories, and possibly many other as yet undiscovered or unexplored local special district or other California Public Agency Employee or Telephone Directories.  But, alas we may not list all of the above Employee and Telephone Directories as that would entail the listing of 3,161 total directories.  For now we are seeking to obtain, upload and list only approximately 1,000 of the most important or relevant Employee and Telephone Directories legally available from California Public Agencies. 

 

Any viewer of Gov-Access.org is encouraged to submit direct email requests to us so we may request and obtain other Local, County or State Employee or Telephone Directories you wish to be included on our website.

 

Many thanks to Corey Johnson from California Watch (http://californiawatch.org/) who emailed us requesting three specific state directories and stated "I stumbled across your website recently and I absolutely love it."  Although we didn't have the three directories Mr. Johnson requested available online at the time, we soon obtained and posted two of them online and are in the process of attempting to obtain the third (CA State Dept of Education).

 

So keep those requests coming, and we'll try to obtain any specific public employee directories subject to disclosure. Our standard CPRA request now consists of asking for the five below-listed data elements:

 

Employee Full Name
Position or Job Title
Department or Agency
Agency Issued Email Address
Direct Work Telephone Number

 

Please note that not all directories listed on our website contain all five data elements, as many agencies claim that their phone numbers and/or email addresses are not a matter of public record.  We recently filed and prevailed in a lawsuit against one such agency (who promptly released all requested data), and are currently litigating against another agency that also claims their phone numbers and email addresses may not be disclosed under the CPRA.

 

It seems quite strange that in this day and age of routine Internet electronic access for services to and from government agencies, numerous taxpayer-supported California Public Agencies still insist that their employee’s email addresses (and work telephone numbers) will not be released to our group or to any other members of the public, by routinely asserting the boilerplate legal claim that "the public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record." [CA Gov't Code section 6255.]  The exact claim made by several counties is as follows:

 

"County email addresses and telephone numbers are not provided in the format you requested in order to prevent proliferation of non-business related telephone or email traffic such as commercial advertisements and "spam," and to avoid infection of the County network by viruses, Trojan horses, and worms transmitted with email message attachments. Such contact can drain network resources and impacts employee productivity. Release of County telephone numbers and email addresses in response to CPRA requests would also expose County networks to disruptive denial-of-service attacks and other related problems, which would severely hamper the conduct of County business." 

 

Our position is that the above verbiage is merely speculative, and that all California Public Agencies adopting such a position are actually fighting a loosing battle with today's reach of electronic government access and the corresponding right or obligation to contact government officials in the most efficient and timely manner as technology permits.  Even our own state's Dept of Justice (both former Atty Gen Brown and present Atty Gen Harris) believe the release of email and direct phone numbers is required under the CPRA (see their Employee Directories listed on our site).  All Public Agencies should get used to the fact that viruses, spam, denial-of-service and other attacks routinely occur in all email systems and servers (including the government's), and are a disruptive, troublesome and unavoidable fact of life for all users of email in this millennium.  But an agency can't just stick its head in the sand and pray such attacks won't occur.  Thus, instead of the wholesale denial of access to certain public records, all agencies should allow access to their employee's Email Addresses (and Direct Phone Numbers) and independently move forward against the pervasive 21st century email threats by installing and keeping up to date proactive virus software (as do most private businesses).

 

Another reason given by six counties from which employee email addresses and phone numbers were denied in response to CPRA requests is cited verbatim below:

 

"The County is not allowed to release records selectively based upon the purpose of the requester, if the record is otherwise subject to disclosure. Gov. Code, §6257.5. Therefore, were the County to release a list or partial list of County email addresses and telephone numbers to you, the County would not be able to deny requests from other requesters who might have a malicious intent.”

 

Thus, at least six California counties are claiming it's also necessary to deny CPRA requests because another requester might later obtain the same records and possibly do something malicious with them. This is just one of the many types of hypothetical concerns the CA courts have repeatedly struck down (see CBS, Inc. v. Block (1986) 42 Cal.3d 646, 652 (for the now accepted proposition that, "a mere assertion of possible endangerment does not 'clearly outweigh' the public interest in access to [public] records.

 

A shining example of an agency that has made their Employee Names, Positions, Email Addresses, and Direct Phone Numbers or Extensions readily available is the Fremont Police Department's web page containing their entire "Personnel Roster" (http://www.fremontpolice.org/personnel/personnel.html).  Another great example is the website maintained by the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission with a specific web page devoted to listing their employee's Full Name, Direct Telephone Number, and Email Address (and also including their biographies) on their "Staff Roster" (http://www.bcdc.ca.gov/staff_roster.shtml) (directory converted to Word format and placed on our website).  And the City of Rolling Hills Estates provides a direct link to their complete "Staff Directory" (http://www.ci.rolling-hills-estates.ca.us/index.aspx?page=240), including the employee's Full Name, Email Address, Fax Number, Title, Dept, Direct Telephone Number or Extension, and Email Icon (directory also converted to Word format and placed on our website).

 

The Employee Rosters or Directories found on the three above-referenced Public Agency websites should be the norm and not the exception.  All California Public Agencies should place their employee contact information online. But until many of the estimated 9,000 or so California Public Agencies subject to the CPRA take any action to do so, we will continue trying to accomplish this goal by obtaining electronic Employee and Telephone Directories and Rosters from selected Public Agencies pursuant to the California Public Records Act, and placing these directories on our website for use by ourselves and other members of the public to assist in efficiently contacting our public servants in an effective and timely manner.

 

In addition, all California Public Agencies should distribute to their employees a copy of The People's Business: A Guide to the California Public Records Act (http://www.cacities.org/resource_files/newCybrary/2008/legalresource/26872.PRA_08%20(2)_web.pdf) offered by League of California Cities which, in addition, also happens to provide Public Records Act training seminars several times a year to California government employees.  Public Agencies could also download a copy of the Public Records Act Training guide offered online by the California Dept of Justice (http://ag.ca.gov/publications/pra.pdf) (among three total online DOJ public records guides) and review the Attorney General's suggestions on providing proper responses to CPRA requests.

 

We believe, however, that the legal analysis expressed online by the Santa Monica Municipal Employees Association [SMMEA] pretty much sums up our position. Below are a few selected paragraphs from their August 2010 News:
 
What Does the Public Have the Right to Know about Its "Public Servants?"
 
For the last several years public agencies and their employees have been on the same side of a battle against "taxpayer" groups that have been pressing for personal information about employees. In 2009, virtually every agency in the state received a Public Records Act request, asking for names, job titles, union affiliations and salaries of the people who work there. Many of these requests are ignored or rejected, on grounds that they violate employees' privacy but, when push comes to shove, and the cases have ended up in court the "right to privacy" has NOT won out over "the public's right to know."
 
Under the Public Records Act (the purpose of which is to "ensure public access to vital information about the government's conduct of its business") any member of the public has the right to know the name, position, work location, work phone number, work email address and salary of any public employee.  The Courts have found that employees have "no reasonable expectation of privacy" about their jobs or their relationship to those jobs.   [Underline and bold emphasis added.]
 
The CPRA does establish a few exemptions: 1) personnel and medical files, which if disclosed would constitute an "unwarranted invasion of personal privacy," and 2) facts which, "better serve the public interest" by withholding the information than by disclosing it.  Number 2 is obviously a large exemption, and a myriad of court cases are currently debating what kinds of information better serves the public interest by non-disclosure, than disclosure! Overall, however, the battle to maintain the privacy of who you are, what you do and what you earn has been lost - although "personal" information (parents, names, place of birth, school records, examination records, performance evaluations, all considered part of your personnel file) is still protected. 
 
Non-Work "Contact" Information 
 
In hearing these various "demands" for public information the Courts apply a "balancing test," weighing the value of the information the public is seeking in "contributing to public understanding of government activities" against the damage that might be done by the public's intrusion of employees' lives. Thus, the Courts have put their feet down on requests for employees' personal phone numbers or home addresses. In 2009, in County of Santa Clara v Superior Court, [(California First Amendment Coalition) (2009) 170 Cal.App.4th 1301,1325] the judge found that "even when the requester asserts that personal contact is necessary to confirm government compliance with mandatory duties," disclosure may be denied when there are "less intrusive means of obtaining that information…"  [Conversely, "where the disclosure of names and addresses is necessary to allow the public to determine whether public officials have properly exercised their duties by refraining from the arbitrary exercise of official power, disclosure has been upheld." (Ibid.)]   [Bracketed sections in this paragraph added from original opinion.]

What about the "public's interest" in protecting employees against intrusions on their time or against threats from members of the public? 

 

The Courts have said that some employees (basically undercover police officers) may be allowed to maintain anonymity under some circumstances, because of personal danger if their identities are released, but they have NOT come down on the side of workplace privacy in the face of "threats" in general. What they say is that safety or security issues may be examined on a case by case basis, but that the "mere assertion of possible endangerment does not clearly outweigh the public interest in access to records."
 
On the question of "disruption" by bothersome members of the public, the Courts have not been sympathetic at all. Public employees are considered servants OF the public - and considered available for contact by the public, while they are at work.

 

SMMEA August 2010 News originally accessed 4-3-11. For the full issue goto: http://www.smmea.org/pdf/news_0810.pdf 

 

On a different but related note, several states have placed their employee and agency directories online for their citizens to use.

 

For instance, the Alabama Directory (last updated 10-15-11) has listings for all state agencies and employees (http://www.alabama.gov/sliverheader/Welcome.do?url=http://info.alabama.gov/), and returns the employee's Full Name, Agency, Direct Telephone Number, and most Email Addresses (http://www.alabama.gov/sliverheader/Welcome.do?url=http://info.alabama.gov/). The website also includes a handy app for Android and iPhone users so they may also access the entire Alabama Directory directly from their cell phones (http://www.alabama.gov/sliverheader/Welcome.do?url=http://info.alabama.gov/).

 

The State of Alaska Employee Directory (last updated 10-15-11) (http://alaska.gov/whitepages/default.aspx) is fully searchable by first or last name, job title, agency, address, and PCN/JCC-BU (job classification number?), and returns the employee's Full Name, Title, Agency, Sub-Agency, Direct Telephone Number, Email Address, Address, and PCN/JCC-BU number.

 

The Arkansas State Directory Online Search is searchable by first or last name, or department or service (http://www.arkansas.gov/directory/search.cgi), and returns the employee's Full Name, Agency or Department, Email Address and Direct Telephone Number.  A separate check of the Arkansas State Agencies directory allows searches by state agency (http://portal.arkansas.gov/government/Pages/governmentAgencies.aspx), then by staff directory, which then returns the employee's Full Name, Clickable Email Address, Division, Title, Responsibilities, and General Telephone Number.

 

The State of Colorado Employee Directory is searchable by either first or last name (http://www.colorado.gov/apps/oit/directory/start.jsf), and returns the employee's Full Name, Agency, Direct Telephone Number, and Email Address.

 

The State of New Hampshire Telephone/Email Directory (http://admin.state.nh.us/directory/search_internet.asp) is searchable by first or last name, department or agency, and returns the employee's Full Name, Agency, Division or Bureau, Title, and Contact Information that includes Direct Telephone Numbers and Email Addresses.

 

The North Carolina State Employee Directory (http://www.state.nc.us/directory.aspx) is searchable by first or last name, and returns either the employee's Direct Telephone Number or Email Address.  And the state of North Carolina was helpful enough to include a recent survey as to the type of information their employees would like to have available through their online Employee Directory (http://www.state.nc.us/pdf/surveyresultssummary.pdf). To the question, "Which of these would you use if available on the NC state government's main website," 55.5% of the respondents said "State employee address, email, and phone lists."

 

Finally, the online California State Telephone Directory of agencies and employees (http://www.cold.ca.gov/) is searchable by agency (http://www.cold.ca.gov/agency_lookup.asp), or employee last name (or partial last name) (http://www.cold.ca.gov/state_employees.asp), but contains only a fraction of the total number of current state employees.  The information returned for those few listed state employees includes Full Name, Direct Telephone Number, and in most instances provides the employee's Email Address).  One huge and ongoing problem, however, is that the directory is not adequately updated on a regular basis, with a sample employee search performed by our group on 10-16-11 for longtime California employee Jerry Brown, which still shows his listing as the Attorney General with the Dept of Justice in Oakland, CA at 510-622-4180, with an outdated email address of jerry.brown@doj.ca.gov.  Inasmuch as Jerry's been Governor since January 2011, this directory listing is at least 10 and 1/2 months old.  Perhaps each California state agency's Directory Listing Coordinators (http://www.cold.ca.gov/dlc_info.asp) should timely perform their duties, which provide that:

 

Each state government agency, including departments, boards and commissions, is required to designate at least one person within their organization as the Directory Listing Coordinator (DLC). The DLC assists the Office of Technology Services (OTech) by submitting monthly telephone directory listings data files to Directory Services.

 

Listings provided by the DLCs are used to update the State Telephone Directory, and for publication in the California Online Telephone Directory. This information is critical for the State Information Agents (formerly State Telephone Operators) to respond to callers, and provides a resource for public and private agencies and citizens to access the most updated state directory information.

 

Responsibilities

 

Specific DLC responsibilities include:

Act as the principle liaison to the OTech for directory services.

Meet deadlines and follow information provided in DLC Bulletins.

Track organizational and telephone number changes within their agency.

Submit all changes electronically to OTech, as frequently as is requested in the DLC Bulletins, via data files.

 

Resources

 

The following resources have been provided to assist DLCs in their day-to-day responsibilities:

To designate a DLC for your agency, complete a DLC Designation Form (pdf), by following the DLC Designation Form Instructions (pdf).

The DLC Handbook is designed to assist you with updating files for your agency's Yellow and White Pages of the online directory. It will assist you through each step from logging on to updating.

The DLC Bulletins are emailed to DLCs who provide an email address. For DLCs not providing email addresses, the bulletins will be sent by US Postal Service.

 

The lack of an up-to-date online California State Telephone Directory containing all and complete employee listings is just one of the initial reasons our group started seeking to obtain and post online specific State Employee and Agency Telephone Directories, and the later posting of various County and Local Employee and Agency Telephone Directories.  Perhaps this ongoing project will encourage additional California State, County, and Local agencies to place relevant and timely full employee contact information on their various web pages.