Public Information Act
The Texas Public Information Act (the “Public Information Act” or the “Act”) gives the public the right to request access to government information. Below is a description of the basic procedures, rights and responsibilities under the Act. The Act is triggered when a person submits a written request to a governmental body. The request must ask for records or information already in existence. The Act does not require a governmental body to create new information, to do legal research, or to answer questions. In preparing a request, a person may want to ask the governmental body what information is available.
Exceptions to the Act
Although the Act makes most government information available to the public, some exceptions exist. If an exception might apply and the governmental body wishes to withhold the information, the governmental body generally must, within ten business days of receiving the open records request, refer the matter to the OAG for a ruling on whether an exception applies. If the OAG rules that an exception applies, the governmental body will not release the information. If a governmental body improperly fails to release information, the Act authorizes the requestor or the OAG to file a civil lawsuit to compel the governmental body to release the information.
Charges & Fees
A person may ask to view the information, get copies of the information, or both. If a request is for copies of information, the governmental body may charge for the copies. If a request is only for an opportunity to inspect information, then usually the governmental body may not impose a charge on the requestor. However, under certain limited circumstances a governmental body may impose a charge for access to information. All charges imposed by a governmental body for copies or for access to information must comply with the rules prescribed by the Office of the Attorney General (“OAG”), unless another statute authorizes a governmental body to set its own charges.
Charges are based on the type of information requested, the number of pages and the amount of time required to produce the documents. The most common charges are as follows:
- Standard paper copy up to 8 ½" x 14" @ $.10 per page
- Paper 11" x 17" @ $.50 per page
- Large Plans 24" x 36" @ $4.00 per page
- Certified Copies @ $4.00 plus per page
- Programming Charge @ $28.50 per hour
- Personnel charges (for requests totaling 50 or more pages) @ $15.00 per hour
- Overhead charges @ 20% of personnel charges
- Redactions for information that is not releasable to the public @ $.10 per page
Rights of Requestors
Rights of Governmental Body
| All people who request public information have the right to:
|| All governmental bodies responding to information requests have the right to:
Responsibilities of Requestors
Responsibilities of Governmental Body
|All people who request public information have the responsibility to:
|| All governmental bodies responding to information requests have the responsibility to:
In accordance with the ADA, the City Secretary's Office will provide copies of requested documents in an alternate format to persons with disabilities upon request at no additional charge.
Submit a Complaint
To reach the OAG’s Open Government Hotline, call toll-free (877) 673-6839 (877-OPEN TEX). Hotline staff can answer questions about the proper procedures for using and complying with the Act and can assist both governmental bodies and people requesting information from a governmental body. Hotline staff also review written complaints about alleged violations of the Act. If a complaint relates to charges, contact the OAG’s Cost Hotline toll-free at (888) 672-6787 (888-ORCOSTS) or forward a written complaint. Certain violations of the Act may involve possible criminal penalties. Those violations must be reported to the appropriate county attorney or criminal district attorney.