Public Access Opinion 14-007

Freedom of Information Act: responding to requests

Freedom of Information Act - FOIA
Case: Public Access Opinion 14-007
Date: Thursday, August 14, 2014

“Try, discuss, and explain…” is the theme of this PAC opinion.

TRY: When a public body responds to a FOIA request, its search for the requested records must be reasonably “tailored to the nature of a particular request” and “reasonably calculated to uncover all relevant documents.” And, the public body should be able to show that it searched all records management systems that are likely to turn up the requested information.

DISCUSS: if a public body wishes to treat a request as unduly burdensome, then it shall extend an opportunity to the requestor to discuss reducing the request. If that does not work, then timely asserting an undue burden during the timeframes outlined in the statute is required.

EXPLAIN: If the search returns no responsive records for the request, the public body should explain why no records were found. The explanation should demonstrate that there were no alternative methods to find the requested records or why that it was not practical to search other sources for the requested information.

This opinion is binding only to the parties involved and may be appealed pursuant to State law.