A Dose of Their Own Medicine
By Oliver Del Signore
August 12, 2001
Anyone who has ever had to deal with a public servant at any level of government knows what a frustrating experience it can be. It is bad enough when you want to get something accomplished, but it can approach the nightmarish when they summon you for questioning.
Whenever a government official asks you a question, and you answer, you place yourself and all you own at risk. The wrong answer could cause the official to initiate all manner of nasty investigations requiring you to invest countless hours and unlimited funds in an often vain attempt to satisfy them and their rules. What can you do?
Allen, a reader with an Australian email address, may have come up with the answer. He recently sent me the following Public Servant questionnaire. I thought it clever, at first, but the more I thought about it, I realized just how practical and useful it can be. Included with the questionnaire were some simple instructions:
When handing this form to a public servant, you must remember never to refuse to co-operate, only on the condition they fill out the question page first.
They will want to know why you want it. You need it in case you are charged with an offense. You need the public servant’s name and address because you can’t serve a summons to their place of work and you will need to recover any costs if there is a court case.
Yes, I think Allen has hit on something here. It is high time the good citizens of these United States started giving our servants a dose of their own medicine.
Here’s the questionnaire, with some modifications and formatting. Feel free to share it and use it as you see fit.
Public Servant Questionnaire
1a. Name and title of public servant:
2a .Full name of government department, bureau, or agency by which public servant is employed
3a. Supervisor’s name and title:
4. Will public servant uphold the PRIVACY and FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACTS? Yes No (circle answer)
5a. Will public servant furnish proof of identity? Yes No (circle answer)
5b. Nature of proof provided? I.D./Employee/Badge No.:
6. Will public servant furnish a copy of the laws or regulations which authorize this investigation prior to proceeding? Yes No (circle answer)
7. Are the questions to be asked based upon a specific law or regulation? Yes No (circle answer)
8. Will the public servant read aloud the portion of the law authorizing the questions he/she will ask ? Yes No (circle answer)
9. Are/will answers given be used as/in a discovery process? Yes No (circle answer)
10a. Are the answers voluntary or mandatory? Voluntary Mandatory (circle answer)
10b. If mandatory, list penalties for non-compliance. If voluntary, list any possible effects upon me, my real property and my personal property if I should choose to not answer any part or all of the questions.
11. What other uses may be made of this information?
12. What other agencies may have access to this information?
13a. Name and title of the person in the Government requesting/ordering this investigation:
14. Circle the nature of this investigation: General Special
15. Provide complete details of the investigation or inquiry.
16a. Have you consulted, questioned, interviewed, or received information from a third party, relative to this investigation? Yes No (circle answer)
17a. Do you anticipate civil or criminal action to be pursued based upon any of the information that you seek? Yes No (circle answer)
18a. Is there a file of records, information or correspondence relating to me being maintained by this agency? Yes No (circle answer)
19a. Is the public servant and/or public servant’s department, bureau, or agency using information pertaining to me, which was supplied, by another agency or Government source? Yes No (circle answer)
20a. Will the public servant guarantee that the information in these files will not be used by any other department other than the one by which he/she is employed? Yes No (circle answer)
Public Servant (Print Name):
Public Servant Signature:
Public Notary or Justice of the Peace
Witness (Print Name and Title):
Witness Seal or Stamp (If applicable in jurisdiction):