Definition of Public Record

Records are defined as a writing which encompasses handwriting, typing, printing, photographing, photocopying, and every other means of recording, and includes letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols, or combinations thereof, or other means of recording or retaining meaningful content prepared, owned, used, in the possession of, or retained by a public body in the performance of an official function, from the time it is created.” 1

Exemptions to Public Records

Exempt: Information deemed private; trade secrets; advisory communications with government agencies; attorney-client communications; medical counseling and psychological facts or appraisals; records of campaign committees; and some law enforcement records. 2

Who Can Make The Request?

Anyone other than incarcerated felons. 3

Response Timeframe

5 days. 4

Information on Fees

A fee will be charged for a public record search, copying for inspection or for providing a copy of a public record. Fees are limited to actual mailing costs and to the actual incremental cost of duplication or publication including labor, the cost of search, examination, review, and deletion and separation of exempt from nonexempt information as provided for in the FOIA. This time and work will be charged at the hourly rate, including benefits, of the lowest paid University employee capable of performing the task necessary to comply with the request under the FOIA. 5

Enforcement Mechanisms

Litigation is the only resource for rejected requests. 6

Attorney Fees

Yes, provided you win your appeal in court. 7

Do You Want to Make a Public Records Request?

The public records process begins with a public records request. Our guide outlines best practices for drafting well-defined requests for public information.

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Questions? Contact the Goldwater Institute.

If you have any questions regarding this guide or your rights to public information, please contact the Goldwater Institute at info@goldwaterinstitute.org to determine if the Institute can help you access information necessary to hold your government accountable.

Goldwater Institute