Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation, Inc.
   
     


Public Information Act

Texas Government Code, Chapter 552, gives one the right to access government records without inquiry by the officer for public information and/or the officer's agent as to why. All government information is presumed to be available to the public, however, certain exceptions may apply to the disclosure of some information. Governmental bodies shall promptly release requested information that is not confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory or by judicial decision, or information for which an exception to disclosure has not been sought.

Rights of Requestors:

  • Prompt access to information that is not confidential or otherwise protected;
  • Receipt of treatment equal to all other requestors, including accommodation in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements;
  • Receipt of information without exceptions, like the voting record of public officials, and other information;
  • Receipt of a written itemized statement of estimated charges, when charges will exceed $40, in advance of work being started and with opportunity to modify the request in response to the itemized statement;
  • Choice of whether to inspect the requested information (most often at no charge), receive copies of the information or both;
  • A waiver or reduction of charges if the governmental body determines that access to the information primarily benefits the general public;
  • Receipt of a copy of the communication from the governmental body asking the Office of the Attorney General for a ruling on whether the information can be withheld under one of the accepted exceptions, or if the communication discloses the requested information, a redacted copy;
  • Lodge a written complaint about overcharges for public information with the General Services Commission. Complaints of other possible violations may be filed with the county or district attorney of the county where the governmental body, other than a state agency, is located. If the complaint is against the county or district attorney, the complaint must be filed with the Office of the Attorney General.

Responsibilities of Governmental Bodies:

  • Establish reasonable procedures for inspecting or copying public information and inform requestors of these procedures;
  • Uniform treatment of all requestors and reasonable comfort and facility for the requestor, including accommodation in accordance with ADA requirements;
  • Be informed about open records laws and educate employees on the requirements of those laws;
  • Inform requestors of the estimated charges greater than $40 and any changes in the estimates above 20 percent of the original estimate; and, confirmation that the requestor accepts the charges or has amended the request in writing before finalizing the request;
  • Inform the requestor if the information cannot be provided promptly and set a date and time to provide it within a reasonable time;
  • Request a ruling from the Office of the Attorney General regarding any information the governmental body wishes to withhold, and send a copy of the request for ruling, or a redacted copy, to the requestor;
  • Segregate public information from information that may be withheld and provide that public information
  • Make a good faith attempt to inform third parties when their proprietary information is being requested from the governmental body;
  • Respond in writing to all written communications from the General Services Commission regarding charges for the information. Respond to the Office of the Attorney General regarding complaints about violations of the Act.

Procedures to Obtain Information:

  • Submit a request to the agency's public information officer or agent by mail, fax, email or in person according to a governmental body's reasonable procedures. Include enough description and detail about the information requested to enable the governmental body to accurately identify and locate the information requested.
  • Cooperate with the governmental body's reasonable efforts to clarify the type or amount of information requested.

Information to be Released:

  • One may review released information promptly, and if it cannot be produced within 10 working days, the public information officer will provide notification in writing of a reasonable date and time when it will be available.
  • Keep all record inspection appointments and pick up copies promptly as scheduled. Failure to keep appointments may result in loss of inspection opportunity at the time requested.

Cost of Records:

  • One must respond to any written estimate of charges within 10 days of the date the governmental body sends notification or the request is considered automatically withdrawn.
  • If estimated costs exceed $100.00 (or $50.00 if a governmental body has fewer than 16 full time employees), the governmental body may require a bond, prepayment or deposit.
  • One may ask the governmental body to determine whether providing the information requested primarily benefits the general public, resulting in a waiver or reduction of charges.
  • Timely payment for all mutually agreed charges is required. A governmental body can demand payment of overdue balances exceeding $100.00 or obtain a security deposit before processing additional requests from an individual with delinquencies.

Information That May Be Withheld Due to an Exception:

  • By the 10th business day after a governmental body receives a written request for information, a governmental body must:
    • Request an Attorney General opinion and state which exceptions apply;
    • Notify the requestor of the referral of the request to the Attorney General; and
    • Notify third parties if the request involves their proprietary information.
  • Failure to request an Attorney General opinion and notify the requestor within 10 business days will result in a presumption that the information is open unless there is a compelling reason to withhold it.
  • Requestors may send a letter to the Attorney General arguing for release, and may review arguments made by the governmental body. If the arguments disclose the requested information, the requestor may obtain a redacted copy.
  • The Attorney General must issue a decision no later than the 45th working day from the day after the Attorney General received the request for a decision. The Attorney General may request an additional 10-working-day extension. Governmental bodies may not ask the Attorney General to "reconsider" an opinion.

To Request Information:

  • Contact:

    Catherine Morris
    Producer Relations Associate
    Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation
    PO BOX 5089
    Abilene, TX 59608-5089

    By email: communications@txbollweevil.org
    By fax: 325-672-5034
    In person: 3103 Oldham Lane, Abilene, TX 79602

    If you need special accommodation pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), please contact the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation at (325) 672-2800.

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