The Act. The Texas Public Information Act ("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 (taken from the AG Public Information Handbook).
Making a Request. 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 question. In preparing a request, a person may want to ask the governmental body what information is available.
Charges to the Requestor. 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.
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.