The Public Information Act (PIA) provides a mechanism for citizens to inspect or copy government records. It also provides that governmental bodies may withhold government records from the public in specific instances.
The PIA generally requires a governmental body to release information in response to a request for information. However, if a governmental body determines the information is excepted from disclosure under the PIA, then both the request and information at issue must be reviewed by the Open Records Division (ORD). The ORD will issue a decision on whether the governmental body is permitted to withhold the requested information or must release the information to the requestor.
What are my rights as a requestor?
Governmental bodies are required to treat all requestors equally. Governmental bodies are also required to notify requestors if a ruling request is submitted to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). Further, a governmental body is required to release requested information promptly. If a governmental body fails to comply with any aspect of the PIA, the OAG can provide assistance to requestors.
Learn more about your rights under the PIA on our Requestor Rights page.
When will I receive the requested information?
Typically, a governmental body must “promptly” produce public information in response to your request. “Promptly” means that a governmental body may take a reasonable amount of time to produce the information and may not delay.
The amount of time reasonably necessary to release information can vary depending on the facts in each case. If a governmental body will take longer than ten business days to produce the requested information, the governmental body must notify you when the information will be released. If the governmental body withholds any of the requested information, then in most cases, the governmental body must request a ruling from the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).
Learn more about this process on our What to Expect After a Ruling is Issued page.
How do I submit comments for consideration on a pending request for information?
Any interested party may submit comments concerning a pending ruling request. Comments must be submitted in writing to the ORD via U.S. mail, commercial carrier, or the ORD e-filing system.
Find out how to submit comments regarding pending requests for information on our Submitting Comments to the Open Records Division page.
How do I report a violation of the Public Information Act?
If a governmental body fails to respond to your request for information or request an attorney general ruling within ten business days, you may file an informal written complaint with the Open Records Division of the Office of the Attorney General. Complaints can also be filed against governmental bodies that fail to comply with an attorney general ruling. Additionally, complaints may be filed against governmental bodies if requestors believe they are being overcharged for a copy or inspection of public information. You may also file a formal complaint with your district or county attorney.
See additional information about filing a complaint on our How to Report a Violation of the PIA page.
What is a 552.108(a)(1) Previous Determination?
A Public Information Act section 552.108(a)(1) Previous Determination (“108 PD”) allows a governmental body to withhold some law enforcement records related to pending criminal cases without needing to request a ruling from the Open Records Division. The governmental body must comply with the specific requirements of the 108 PD, including the requirement that at least basic information be released within five business days of receiving the request.
Learn more about the 108PD on our 108 Previous Determination page.
What about confidential information?
Some public information is confidential by statute. If information is confidential by statute, a governmental body generally cannot release the information under the PIA. Governmental bodies also maintain information that is not confidential by statute. A governmental body has the option to withhold non-confidential information in certain circumstances.
Read more about confidential information on our Confidential Information Under Public Information Act page.