On Oct. 11, the Daily Nebraskan was denied a request for a copy of the bid submitted by Bryan Health for the potential privatization of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s University Health Center.
On Oct. 30, The DN received an advisory opinion on its public records petition from the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, stating that the university is “required to disclose certain portions of the bid or bids it has received.”
We at the DN are disappointed with the university’s reluctance to release the bid.
Initially, William F. Lynch III, director of the University of Nebraska’s University Records Management division, rejected our request, saying the bid was not subject to state law, and he later cited university policy. After the DN submitted a request for an advisory proposal to the attorney general’s office, it contacted Lynch, and he shifted his reason for witholding the information to Neb. Rev. Stat 84-712.05(3), which, according to the response from the attorney general’s office, “allows a public body, at its discretion, to withhold from disclosure ‘(t)-rade secrets, academic and scientific research work which is in progress and unpublished, and other proprietary or commercial information which if released would give advantage to business competitors and serve no public purpose.”
The attorney general’s report then found it “highly unlikely that the bid documents at issue in this instance constitute commercial or proprietary information in their entirety.”
We at the DN believe a university should be open and honest with its students — especially on an issue of such importance. If the university is worried about giving a competitive edge to a bidder, that idea should immediately be realized as a nonissue. With only one bidder, where would the other competition arise? The university is not accepting more bids at this point.
Our purpose is to serve the student body by informing it on issues that matter. This issue matters.
In the coming week, the DN will publish a special page on its website providing all content related to the potential privatization of the University Health Center. A FAQ will be published, featuring broader questions than the university’s current FAQ mentions. It will include a timeline of events that have happened and are expected to happen. The page will also serve as a one-stop-shop to find all past articles written on this issue and update readers on events pertaining to the evolution of this story.
This issue affects every student, and students need to be aware of what the facts are. Without full cooperation and transparency from the university, this becomes much more difficult.
It shouldn’t take nearly a month of writing requests, fielding denials and seeking advisory opinions to get information on what our university is doing behind closed doors when there is no reason to be hiding these facts.