Thursday, April 7, 2011
The Oklahoma Daily: OU might have overcharged by more than $11,000 for copies of public records
The University of Oklahoma might have overcharged the public for copies of records by more than $11,000 during the past three years, The Oklahoma Daily reported today.
The student newspaper based that number on the university charging 25 cents per page when its costs amount to 8 cents per page.
OU officials told the newspaper that each copy actually costs the university 32 cents, including 27 cents per page for labor.
“We calculated labor at a rate of $25,000 plus benefits at 34 percent and assumed that each copy takes one minute of someone’s time,” said Rachel McCombs, OU Open Records Office director.
The newspaper's reporter, Nicholas Harrison, noted that the slowest copier meeting state agency specifications must make at least 10 copies per minute. Based on that number, the newspaper calculated that the most that OU officials could justify in direct costs was 8 cents per page.
Harrison also noted that Norman commercial copy shops profit from 4 to 10 cents per page. While on campus, the Bizzell Memorial Library charges cost 7 cents per page and the Oklahoma Memorial Union’s Crimson & Cream Copy Center charges 10 cents.
The full story is worth reading.
In an editorial, the newspaper called on the university to lower the copy fee and noted that it has been waiting for more than 16 weeks for records related to OU's purchase of a monastery in Arezzo, Italy, to create residence halls for students and faculty abroad.
Kudos to Harrison and The Oklahoma Daily editors for not meekly accepting what OU was charging for the public's documents and instead challenging the numbers with good reporting, common sense and a calculator.
Joey Senat, Ph.D.
OSU School of Media & Strategic Communications
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.