Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "Open Records Law" ...

  • Problems and opportunities: Electronic access in Indiana

    "Problems and opportunities: Electronic access in Indiana" explored how Indiana's county-level government agencies complied with the Access to Public Records Act — the state's open records law. Reported and written by master's students at The Media School at Indiana University and published by the Indiana Coalition for Open Government, the project found nearly half of the 90 agencies sampled failed to respond to requests for public records. http://indianacog.org/icog-news/problems-and-opportunities-electronic-access-in-indiana/
  • Concealed Courts: The battle for judicial transparency

    This is an entry for the IRE FIO award. Concealed Courts is a series about how the state judicial branch exempted itself from state open records laws, refused to discuss policies and declined to provide records other government agencies have to release. In the process, I found judicial employees, including Supreme Court justices, moonlighting on state time, some departments releasing information others would not and a total lack of accountability from an agency that spends hundreds of million of tax dollars. In the end, the courts put forth a records policy but by that time my stories prompted the legislature to formulate a bill to be introduced in the 2016 session.
  • An Inside Track

    A groundbreaking investigation by Dallas Morning News reporters Ed Timms and Kevin Krause exposed questionable practices by a nonprofit agency created by local governments in part to avoid public scrutiny of the certification process for minority- and woman-owned businesses.. The reporters and their newspaper fought a lengthy legal battle for more than a year that resulted in a strong legal precedent that may deter other governments from trying to circumvent open records law by forming nonprofits. The investigation revealed that the local governments had relied on a temporary employment firm had operated the nonprofit agency for more than a decade. Employees of that private firm certified their own company as a minority-owned business, even as it won millions in contracts from those same governments. The employees also decided whether their company's competitors and subcontractors got certified. It also disclosed that the company, and other contractors, failed to adequately screen temporary employees provided to Dallas County.
  • The Costs and Benefits of an Elite College Chess Team

    Did Webster University pay $1 million to bring an elite chess team from Texas Tech? The university declined to address that question, but documents obtained under Texas open records law reveal the stipulations the controversial chess coach was seeking prior to her departure from Texas Tech. After failing to negotiate her terms into a new Texas Tech contract, Polgar moved her program to Webster University. Amid back-to-back budget shortfalls, some questioned the administration’s investment in an elite chess team. Webster derives 97 percent of its revenue from tuition payments, much of which is taxpayer-funded student loans and grants.
  • Newtown 911 Tapes

    In the face of opposition from government officials, the public and colleagues in the media, The Associated Press aggressively fought for 911 records and documents related to the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The request, begun as a routine newsgathering effort, turned into a high-profile fight for public information as state legislators tried to claw back Connecticut’s open records laws.
  • Contrary to the Public Interest

    Colorado's open records laws are supposed to keep government officials accountable, but acquiring documents can require paying hefty fees or becoming tangled in expensive and lengthy legal battles. In some cases, the cost and complexity of obtaining records is enough to drive citizens away. In other cases, officials use vague legal standards like "contrary to the public interest" to deny citizens access to records that may be unflattering or contain information that agencies would prefer to hide from the public’s eye. Or as 7News found out first hand, in some instances, a state agency will sue a requester to keep records under wrap.
  • As City Plants Trees, Benefits—and Some Burdens—Grow

    New York City owns and maintains hundreds of thousands of trees. More than just a touch of nature in an urban landscape, they are a major tool in combating asthma, particularly in poorer sections. But they come at a price. With each major storm ravaging trees, the city faces millions of dollars in claims for property damage, some severe injuries and, on rare occasions, deaths, as limbs shear off and trees are uprooted. The prospects are the problem is only going to get worse. The city has quietly been slashing tree maintenance. The leading species of trees owned by the city is not even native to the area, but variety with a propensity for collapsing in heavy weather. By analyzing city tree databases, obtaining under open records laws records documenting storm damage, scouring budget records, and doing countless interviews, the students, in this unique story, documented the hidden cost of the city's trees, and the policy implications.
  • Waiting to React: Tennessee's child protection failures

    A lawmaker's concern about child deaths triggered a probing and ongoing Tennessean investigation into the failings and illegal practices of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. The newspaper detailed how the department broke the law by not reporting deaths to lawmakers; failed to keep accurate fatality statistics; allowed thousands of child abuse hotline calls to go unanswered; struggled to handle a spike in violence at youth detention centers; and adopted adversarial positions against child advocates, lawmakers, police and the agencies that oversee the department. Led by two reporters, the newspaper has exposed the department's $37 million computer installation debacle, shortcomings in how officials contract with private companies, and how a wave of abrupt senior-level firings made DCS one of the most volatile departments in Tennessee government. Through records requests, data analyses, close readings of reports and audits, and persistent questioning, The Tennessean penetrated the secretive $650 million department and provided a level of accountability just as the department has moved to dismantle other forms of oversight. The reporting prompted Gov. Bill Haslam to personally review DCS case files and forced the department to comply with fatality notification laws. An ongoing open records lawsuit led by The Tennessean and backed by the state's largest ever media coalition now seeks to force DCS to make child fatality records available to the media and the public for the first time.
  • Salt Lake Tribune reporting, editorial stance, lobbying efforts to help keep Utah's open record law intact

    In the waning days of the 2011 Utah Legislature, lawmakers quietly introduced House Bill 477, a measure designed to dramatically weaken the state's open records law, the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA), in effect for the past two decades. Work done by The Salt Lake Tribune led the way to the recall of HB477.
  • Salt Lake Tribune, editorial stance, Lobbying keeps Utah's open record laws intact

    "After a significant change in Utah's open records laws passed legislation without typical due process. The paper's editorial and government relations staff aggressively reported on the claims from both supporters and opponents of the bill."