Minnesota case probes public data in outsourced work

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A civil case testing the limits of Minnesota’s open records law when it comes to outsourced work is approaching a hearing at the state Court of Appeals.

When Minnesota governments farm work out to private companies, state law presumes most data for those projects is available to the public just as if the work was done by public employees.

The dispute springs from a small-town newspaper editor’s failed effort to access data from a construction management firm and its subcontractor on a major school buildings project. Friday’s hearing is the first significant judicial look at that portion of the Minnesota records law in about a decade.

The stakes go beyond the information standoff at hand. It has implications for contracts authorized by Minnesota’s state government, municipal councils and school boards.