---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Daniel Wolf Savin <savin@astro.columbia.edu>
Date: Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 10:52 AM
Subject: Draft Confidentiality Policy Guidelines
To: Sharyn O'Halloran <so33@columbia.edu>
Cc: Debra Wolgemuth <djw3@columbia.edu>, Ron Mazor <rm2384@columbia.edu>, Thomas M Mathewson <tmm2@columbia.edu>

Dear Sharyn,

Here is some background for the proposed Confidentiality Guidelines which Structure and Operations would like to bring to the Senate for discussion and a vote this coming Plenary.

This is an issue which dates back to Winter 2007 when a Journalism School student requested access to minutes from the External Relations Committee meetings in the early 1970s pertaining to their work on the relationship between the University and the CIA.  That request was forwarded to Structure and Operations (S&O) which realized at the time that there were no guidelines in place concerning the release of confidential committee minutes.  At the time the student's request was denied as there was insufficient time, between when the request was made and when it was needed by for his assignment, to properly vet the requested material.  But this started discussions within S&O on how to
revise the current guidelines.

S&O reviewed and discussed the current confidentiality guidelines (adopted in 1977) for committee minutes.  Over the course of the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 Academic Years, a number of more pressing issues limited the time S&O could devote to the matter.  In Fall 2009, S&O drew up a new set of proposed guidelines which were brought to the Senate
Plenary meeting for discussion at the 13 Nov 2009 and then sent to all the various committees for review and comments.  S&O received extensive feedback from the Student Affairs Committee which lead to a significant rewriting of several parts of the proposed policy.  Comments were also received from the Faculty Affairs Committee as well as several other committees.  A revised version was drawn up which also incorporated comments from the Office of the General Council.

Earlier this 2010-2011 Academic Year, S&O sent the latest version of the proposed new guidelines to all the committees for comments.  No significant comments were received and so we would like to bring the latest version to the Senate floor for discussion and a vote.

Here now is a short summary of the differences between the current confidentiality guidelines and the proposed new guidelines:

1) According to the 1977 Guidelines committee minutes are confidential for eternity.  The proposed guidelines limit this to 50 years to match that the Trustees' policy.

2) The 1977 policy omits mention of a couple of committees for which confidentiality is critical for their function, particularly Budget Review and Faculty Affairs when handling grievances.

3) There is no mechanism in the 1977 Guidelines for the scholarly use of confidential committee minutes and material.  The proposed guidelines include a detailed mechanism handling such scholarly requests.

4) There is no mechanism in the 1977 Guidelines for the sharing of information between Senate committees.  The proposed guidelines include a detailed procedure for handling such requests.

5) The 1977 policy does not lay out how information shared with a committee on a confidential basis is to be handled.  The new policy makes it clear that the person providing the information decides when or if that information can be made publicly available.

6) The 1977 policy calls for two sets of minutes, one confidential and one public.  This does not represent current practice.  Neither does the Senate have sufficient resources to provide two such sets.  The proposed new policy calls for confidential minutes but a public agenda to be made available after the meeting.

That about wraps up the summary.  Ron has asked me if I would be willing to present this new policy to the Senate which I am glad to do.

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.