This decision by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission certainly raises a lot of questions about open government, public access to records and the free flow of information:
NOTICE TO ALL PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION ELECTRONIC REGULATORY FILING USERS
Effective immediately, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission is changing the handling of confidential filings. As you may recall, past practice was to have confidential status expire automatically after 4 years unless a party requests an extension of that status. Because the retention for the vast majority of our documents is greater than 4 years, this resulted in numerous and repeated requests for extensions of confidential status. This was becoming burdensome and inefficient. To reduce waste, improve efficiency, and to better align the Commission’s practice on the handling of confidential materials with the Commission’s document retention practices, the Commission has decided to abolish the 4 year automatic expiration period. Instead, please be advised that Commission practice, until further notice, is to maintain the confidential status of the document throughout the life cycle of the document.
Please be reminded, however, that the grant of confidential status does not automatically mean the document will be retained confidentially and withheld from public inspection. Such determinations must be made consistent with Wisconsin’s public records law and any other law requiring release of Commission records.
Please see attached for more information. This document has also been filed in the ERF System. If you have questions regarding the Commission’s practice and procedure relating to handling of documents granted confidential status, or the duration of that status, please contact the Commission’s Office of General Counsel at (608) 266-1264 or e-mail Cynthia Smith.
Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
phone: 608.267-9026 fax: 608.266-3957