Frequently Asked Questions

Who can file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request?

Anyone is welcome to file a FOIA request.

What fees can a public agency charge to provide copies of public records?

Public agencies may charge a maximum of twenty-five cents per page. Other fees may be charges for certified copies, transcripts, printouts or records on electronic media.

How many days does the public agency have to acknowledge receipt of a FOIA request?

A public agency must acknowledge receipt of a FOIA request within four (4) business days after the public agency receives the request.

Can a public agency ask a requester for clarification concerning a request?

Yes. Public agencies may request clarification concerning which public record(s) are being requested.

How quickly must a public agency provide access to, or copies of, public records?

A public agency is required to provide "prompt" access to public records. Promptness is a standard determined by consideration of a number of factors such as: how busy the institution is at the time of the request, how time-consuming it will be to comply with the request and the urgency of need for the information contained in the records.

What if the public agency uses a different name for a document than the requester when making his/her request? Can the public agency deny the request for that reason?

No. The public agency cannot deny the request just because it refers to a record differently than the agency. A requester does not need to describe the record specifically and accurately by the same name as the public agency uses. As long as the public agency understands what is being requested, they must determine whether a responsive record exists and whether such record can be released under federal and state law, even if the agency does not call it by the same name the requester does.

When may a public agency refuse to release requested records?

The FOIA as well as federal and state law provide that certain categories of documents are exempt from disclosure. In some cases, these documents can be disclosed following redaction of the information that is confidential. A refusal of the release of public records must be in writing and reference a specific legal reason to justify the non-disclosure of the requested information.

Is a public agency required to answer questions under the FOIA?

No. The FOIA does not required a public agency to answer questions, render opinions, or provide subjective evaluations. Public records requests must be for existing documents.