The Office of the General Counsel is the main point of contact for open
records requests. Open records requests should be forwarded
to the General Counsel immediately upon receipt because
there is a deadline for responding. The Office of the General
Counsel is additionally required to provide a monthly compilation of open
records data to the state. Here are some basic rules and guidelines
regarding open records:
- All public institutions are subject to the Public Information Act.
- A requestor should put the request in writing. This can be transmitted
to the institution by letter, E-mail, fax or other correspondence.
- Almost all records are subject to release and should be produced promptly
unless they are in active use or stored.
- Public information normally includes: financial records, budgets,
salaries, most information in personnel files, memoranda, reports, papers
and information provided in confidence to an employee where that confidentiality
is not protected by law.
- Student records other than directory information, information confidential
by law such as medical or psychological records, trade secrets, certain
real estate information and information that constitutes a highly unwarranted
invasion of privacy should not be released.
- Records must be made available promptly, within ten business days of
the receipt of the request, unless the requestor is notified in writing
concerning the delay.
- A good faith attempt must be made to notify third parties who have an
ownership interest in the information being requested within ten business
days of the receipt of the request (e.g. copyrighted works of others, intellectual
- Records should be provided in the format requested, if possible.
- Reasonable charges, as determined by the Texas
Building and Procurement Commission in its charge
schedule, may be charged by the agency for making copies. A
deposit may be required for copies costing $100 or more.
- It is illegal to ask the reason for the request, but clarifications may
be requested in order to provide the correct records or narrow the request.
- Subpoenas do not fall under the Public Information Act.
- Repetitive requests for the same information cannot be denied.
- There are criminal and civil penalties for destroying, altering, mutilating,
or removing a public record during the collection of the records.
- Refusing to release a records that should be released is considered official
misconduct and carries criminal and civil penalties.
- There are criminal penalties for releasing a record that should be confidential.
- If the institution does not wish to release the information, a request
for a decision from the Attorney General's Office must be made within ten
days of receipt of the request and the requestor must be provided with
a copy of the correspondence to the Attorney General. Also, the institution
must submit evidence to the Attorney General regarding the date of receipt
and copies or representative samples of the information at issue.
- The Attorney General must issue an opinion with 45 days of a request
from a state agency.
- The institution is prohibited from requesting a reconsideration of the
Attorney General decision.
- The institution may make its own determination regarding whether records
covered by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act are releasable.
- A sign containing basic information about the rights of the requestor,
the responsibilities of a government and the procedures for inspecting
or obtaining public information must be posted at the public institution. (This
sign is posted on the bulletin board maintained by the Office of Public
If you have questions about open records, you can contact the Office of
the General Counsel at 936-468-4305 or the Attorney General at its toll free
Open Government Hotline, 877-673-6839 (ask for Open Government Hotline),
or directly at 512-478-6736.
Memo re Procedure for Requesting Labels and Mailing Lists
(You will need the Adobe
Reader to view this memo.)
University Policy - Access
to University Records
General Open Records Letter Rulings
General Open Record Decisions
Statute - Government
Code, Chapter 552
Texas Building and Procurement Commission - Charge
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