Definition of Public Record

Public records includes all documents, no matter the physical form that are “produced or acquired in the course of public agency business.” 1

Exemptions to Public Records

Exempt: Twenty exemptions including: Personnel files; criminal investigation records; tax documents; and location of historical/archaeological sites. 2

Who Can Make The Request?


Response Timeframe

Records denials must be issued within 2 days of receiving the records request. 3

Information on Fees

In 1996 an amendment to the law granted agencies the right to charge for public records requests. Fees must be kept to actual cost for both copying and searching, and search time costs only kick in after 30 minutes of search time. 4

Enforcement Mechanisms

There is very little enforcement of the public records law in Vermont. In the words of the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press, “the State appears to rely on the press and private citizens for enforcement of the Public Records Act under 1 V.S.A. § 319(a). To date, there have been no enforcement actions brought by the Vermont Attorney General’s Office.” The only provision for penalties to public records offices or agencies in general who violate the law is that they may be held in contempt and be subject to discipline. There are no specifics as to what this means in terms of what exact discipline they may experience. 5

Attorney Fees

Yes. However, you must be able to show that without litigation the records would likely not have been disclosed, and that there was public benefit in the release of the documents. 6

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 to determine if the Institute can help you access information necessary to hold your government accountable.

Goldwater Institute