AN ACT relative to work product and relative to attorneys' fees under the right-to-know law.

SPONSORS: Rep. Whalley, Merr 5; Rep. Wall, Straf 9; Sen. Hollingworth, Dist 23; Sen. Francoeur, Dist 14; Sen. Eaton, Dist 10; Sen. O'Hearn, Dist 12; Sen. Klemm, Dist 22

COMMITTEE: Judiciary


This bill clarifies that certain work papers are not subject to the right-to-know law.

This bill also allows the court to award attorneys' fees under RSA 91-A in certain circumstances.

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.








In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand One

AN ACT relative to work product and relative to attorneys' fees under the right-to-know law.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

289:1 Audit Reports. Amend RSA 14:31-a to read as follows:

14:31-a Audit Division.

I. The audit division shall:

[I.](a) Conduct post-audits of the accounts and records of any state department, board, institution, commission, or agency. The legislative budget assistant may cooperate with federal officials and agencies in conducting said post-audits.

[II.](b) Audit the accounts of the state treasurer at least once each fiscal year. The findings and report of a certified accountant, designated by the legislative budget assistant, may be accepted as fulfilling the requirements of this paragraph.

[III.](c) Submit a detailed report of every audit conducted pursuant to this section to the fiscal committee for its approval. After approval by the committee, a copy of the report shall be given to the governor; the speaker of the house of representatives; the president of the senate; the commissioner of the department of administrative services; and the executive officer of the department, board, institution, commission, or agency concerned. The executive officer shall have the right to submit a written statement explaining or rebutting the findings of the report to the fiscal committee.

[IV.](d) Conduct such program result audits of any department, board, institution, commission, or agency as the fiscal committee shall specifically direct. Program result audits shall include, but not be limited to, examinations and any determinations based upon the examinations as to whether the results contemplated by the legislature, or other authorizing body, have been and are being achieved by the department, board, institution, commission, or agency concerned, and whether such objectives could be obtained more effectively through other means. This paragraph shall not apply to constitutional officers in the execution of their constitutional duties. The fiscal committee may direct the legislative budget assistant to expand the scope of any program result audit to include such policy analysis as the fiscal committee may, in its discretion, designate. Such committee shall, at least once every 10 years, consider the necessity of the review, pursuant to this paragraph, of each department, board, institution, commission, and agency.

[V.](e) Conduct audits of the compliance of state agencies with statewide information technology standards and procedures.

[VI.](f) Conduct performance audits of each performance budgeted agency and program under RSA 9:8-a at least once every 2 years. Such performance audits shall include, but not be limited to, examinations of and any determinations based upon the examinations as to achievement of state goals, objectives, and specific outcome measures provided for in each agency or program's budget submission. Such performance audit shall indicate the degree of achievement, and any reasons for non-achievements of objectives and outcome measures. Such audit shall also include findings regarding the appropriateness of stated objectives and outcome measures and may suggest alternative or additional measures for use in subsequent budget periods.

II. The detailed reports of every audit conducted pursuant to this section shall become a public record upon approval by the fiscal committee. Audit work papers and notes are not public records. However, those materials necessary to support the compilations in the final audit report may be made available by majority vote of the fiscal committee after a public hearing showing proper cause. For the purposes of this section, work papers shall include, but are not limited to, all preliminary drafts and notes used in preparing the audit report.

289:2 Reference Change. Amend RSA 21-J:14, V(d)(4) to read as follows:

(4) The legislative budget assistant in the performance of his or her duties under RSA 14:31-a, [I and II] I(a) and (b) only, provided that disclosure of department records, files, returns, or information to the legislative budget assistant shall be only for the purpose of, and to the extent necessary for, conducting audits of the department's accounts and records as are required by law as provided in section 6103(d)(2)(A) and (B) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, as amended. This exception shall not be construed to authorize disclosure to any member of the legislature or to any expert consultants, including certified public accountants and data processing experts, hired by the legislative budget assistant to assist [him] the legislative budget assistant in the carrying out of his or her duties.

289:3 New Paragraph; Attorneys' Fees. Amend RSA 91-A:8 by inserting after paragraph I the following new paragraph:

I-a. The court may award attorneys' fees to a board, agency or employee or member thereof, for having to defend against a person's lawsuit under the provisions of this chapter, when the court makes an affirmative finding that the lawsuit is in bad faith, frivolous, unjust, vexatious, wanton, or oppressive.

289:4 Effective Date. This act shall take effect upon its passage.

(Approved: July 17, 2001)

(Effective Date: July 17, 2001)