Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I know if I have received a request for public information?
You will receive an email from Open Records notifying you of a received request, providing a copy of the part of the request that is relevant to you, and providing you a date by which you must respond. You will also receive the assigned number for the particular request.
What do I do if I think I will not be able to respond by the deadline provided?
Please contact Open Records as soon as possible. Sometimes we are able to extend deadlines and sometimes we are not. It depends on the request and the potential responsive records, but our 10-business-day deadline to respond to requestors must be strictly adhered to, or there may be legal implications.
What if I am an employee who has been asked to produce documents that I think may be confidential under the law?
If you are asked to provide information pursuant to a properly issued request, provide whatever you have that is responsive to the public information officer, even if you believe it should not be released to the requestor. The public information officer will make a determination, with input from the TAMUS Office of General Counsel, about whether a request for an exception will be made and the requestor will be notified. The university may not determine, on its own, to not release responsive information.
What is the Texas Public Information Act?
The Texas Public Information Act (the “Public Information Act” or the “Act”), is located in the Texas Government Code, Chapter 552. The Act provides a mechanism for citizens to inspect or receive copies of government records. It also provides for instances in which governmental bodies wish to, or are required by law to, withhold government records from the public.
What types of information are subject to the Texas Public Information Act?
Any information collected, assembled, or maintained by or for a governmental body is generally subject to the Texas Public Information Act. The format (paper, electronic, microfilm, etc.) of the record does not affect its status as a public record. The location in which the information is retained also does not affect its status as public information (employee’s home computer, personal phone, USB drive, etc.) The governmental body does not, however, have to create or manipulate documents to respond to requests, nor must it answer questions.
What should I say in my public information request?
Your request should be as specific as possible to enable us to identify exactly what information you are requesting. Providing date ranges, individuals involved (if seeking emails), university offices you believe to be connected to the information, etc. are all helpful to our office in attempting to promptly respond. The university may respond with a clarifying request if we are unable to locate the records based on the initial request. If you do not know specifically what documents you are looking for, a request that states “I request records that demonstrate [insert information here]…..” is better than asking a question. You must provide a method of written contact—email, fax or mailing address.
What is the cost of copies of public information? Rules for charges
How long does the university have to respond to my request for information?
The Act provides that a governmental body must respond promptly to a request for information. If we are unable to produce the requested information within 10 business days, we will contact you to let you know that we are unable to do so, and will set a date and time when the records will be available to you. This will include letting you know by the 10th business day if the university is seeking an open records decision to withhold any information
When may a university refuse to release the information I request?
If the information you request falls within one of the exceptions to disclosure found in the Texas Public Information Act, the university may refuse to release the information while it seeks an open records decision from the Office of Attorney General. Unless the governmental body has a previous determination from a court or the Attorney General regarding the precise information requested, a governmental body cannot determine on its own to withhold information.
How do I make a public information request?
Public information requests must be in writing and may be made by mail, email or fax. Email and fax requests, must be sent directly to the Open Records (Office of Business Affairs). Another university department’s receipt of an email or fax request will not be sufficient to initiate the university’s required response. Departments receiving fax or email requests should not forward the request to the public information officer, but rather return it to the requestor with a notification about how to send it to the proper office.