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Final Decision FIC2014-197
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
George Winter,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2014-197
Commissioner, State of Connecticut,
Department of Motor Vehicles; and State
of Connecticut, Department of Motor
Vehicles, 
     Respondents
January 14, 2015

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 17, 2014, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. 
     After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
     1.  The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S.
     2.  It is found that on February 18, 2014, the complainant requested a copy of records related to a certain Motor Vehicles Sergeants Examination. 
     3.  It is found that on March 11, 2014, the respondents provided some of the requested records, but withheld records pertaining to the oral interviews conducted as part of the assessment process. 
     4.  By letter filed April 7, 2014, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide him with all of the records he requested. 
     5.  Section 1-200(5), G.S., provides:
Public records or files means any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, …whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.
     6.  Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides, in relevant part:
Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours, … or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.
     7.  Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:  “Any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain, facsimile, electronic or certified copy of any public record.”
     8.  It is concluded that the records requested by the complainant are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S.
     9.  It is found that the complainant requested records of the oral interview questions, the scores and rankings, and the criteria used in development of the questions.
     10. The respondents claim that §1-210(b)(6), G.S., exempts the requested records from disclosure. 
     11. Section 1-210(b)(6), G.S., provides that nothing in the FOI Act shall be construed to require the disclosure of:
Test questions, scoring keys and other examination data used to administer … [an] examination for employment …[.]
     12. The respondents claim that the oral interview was part of the motor vehicle sergeants examination, and that the requested records are test questions, scoring keys, and other examination data used to administer an examination for employment, within the meaning of §1-201(b)(6), G.S.
     13. It is found that the Department of Administrative Services announced an “Agency Promotional Examination” for Motor Vehicle Sergeant with the Department of Motor Vehicles, with a closing date of May 11, 2012.
     14. It is found that the announcement stated that the “Experience and Training” part of the examination would be weighted 100%.  It is found that the announcement instructs the applicant to complete the relevant “examination application ([form] CT-HR-12)” detailing how the applicant meets the minimum experience and training requirements set forth elsewhere in the announcement.  It is found that the announcement states:  “This material will constitute the examination for this class.”
     15. It is found that the respondents conducted oral interviews of many applicants who satisfied the “Experience and Training” requirements.  It is found that the respondents included the oral interview in their overall assessment of the applicants and subsequent ranking of their performance.
     16. The complainant contends, however, that because the announcement stated that the written “examination application” described in paragraph 14, above, was weighted 100% and constituted the examination, the oral interview portion of the assessment process was not part of an “examination for employment” within the meaning of §1-210(b)(6), G.S.
     17. It is concluded that while the complainant’s argument, if correct, may mean that the oral interviews conducted by the respondents were not properly part of the motor vehicle sergeants examination for purposes of applicants’ final scores, it does not necessarily follow that the oral interviews were not an “examination for employment” within the meaning of §1-210(b)(6), G.S.
     18. “Even when construing statutory language narrowly…we cannot ignore the plain meaning of the words of the statute.” Board of Education of the Town of Ridgefield v. FOI Commission, 217 Conn. 153, 160 (1991). 
     19. The State Personnel Act, §5-196(11), G.S., defines “examination” as “an assessment device or technique yielding scores or ratings designed to determine the fitness of candidates for positions allocated to a specified class, occupational group or career progression level.”
     20. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged (1993) defines examination as “an exercise or a series of exercises designed to examine progress or test qualifications; …a test given to a candidate for a certificate or a position and concerned typically with problems to be solved, skills to be demonstrated, or tasks to be performed.”            
     21. The Commission has interpreted §1-210(b)(6), G.S., to apply to oral examination data for employments positions even where there is no formal examination.  See, for example, Docket #2013-064; Alireza Jamalipour v. Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Transportation; and State of Connecticut, Department of Transportation (Sept. 25, 2013) (interview selection report for employment position posted for Transportation Supervising Engineer in the Bridge and Safety Evaluation Unit); Docket #FIC 2009-519; Kosinski v. Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Education; and State of Connecticut, Department of Education (June 23, 2010) (records pertaining to evaluation and appointment of per diem hearing officers as per solicitation of applications); Docket #FIC 2009-123; Richard Malley v. Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Environmental Protection; and State of Connecticut, Department of Environmental Protection (Feb. 24, 2010) (interview questions for posted position of storekeeper); Docket #FIC 2000-501, Randal Edgar et al. v. Waterbury Superintendent of Schools (scores assigned by interviewers to each candidate for the position of superintendent of schools).  
     22. It is found that the phrase “examination for employment” in §1-210(b)(6), G.S., encompasses the oral interviews at issue in this matter.  It is also found that the requested records are test questions, scoring keys and other examination data used to administer an examination for employment, within the meaning of §1-210(b)(6), G.S.
     23. It is concluded, therefore, that §1-210(b)(6), G.S., exempts the records from mandatory disclosure, and that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act by withholding such records from the complainant.
     The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
     1.  The complaint is dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 14, 2015.
__________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission

PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S., THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.
THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:
George Winter
c/o Frank Canace, Esq.
P.O. Box 332
Plantsville, CT  06489
Commissioner, State of Connecticut,
Department of Motor Vehicles; and State of Connecticut,
Department of Motor Vehicles
Michelle C.H. Givens, Esq.
Department of Motor Vehicles
60 State Street, Room 164
Wethersfield, CT  06161
____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission

FIC/2014-197FD/cac/1/14/2015