SD10 - Analysis of Feasibility of and Cost Associated with Requiring Public Bodies to Compile Indices of Certain Computer Databases (SJR 68)

Executive Summary:
Prepared in response to Senate Joint Resolution 68, this report presents a study of the feasibility and associated costs of creating an annual index of state government databases, within certain parameters, as directed by Section 2.1-342 of the Code of Virginia. This section of the Code, modified by Senate Bill 326 (1996 Session), expands upon the current Virginia Freedom of Information Act to incorporate a requirement to index certain computer databases.

The focus of this study is computer resident database files which are also part of the official record. Although the Department of Information Technology (DIT) strongly supports making official information available to the public, this study does not extend itself into the general discussion of Virginia's Freedom of Information Act or Privacy Protection Act. Nor does it extend itself into discussion of any issues raised by passage of SB 326.

Implementation of an index of computer resident database files begs consideration of numerous factors, from the potential for data mining to the cost implications for agencies and, subsequently, the Commonwealth as a whole. This study explores these issues and makes specific recommendations identifying the material which should be indexed and addressing the implications data mining may hold for the Commonwealth.

Developing cost estimates, on the other hand, is more difficult because of the variables involved. Resource allocation depends on factors such as the number of databases to be considered, the complexity of each database and its technological structure. Specific algorithms incorporating these variables must be developed to gain a cost estimate of any accuracy. Therefore, the resource allocation issue is addressed here only in general terms.