Open Records

What’s an open record in Texas? Most documents, data maintained by agencies as part of everyday business. What’s not? Most records involving welfare recipients, child abuse, juvenile convictions. You can verify a hunting and fishing licenses but you can’t get the database of license holders (don’t get me started). Courts are not covered by the Texas Public Information Act but most court files are open.

Some tips from Texas open records warriors:

  • Make an agency prove up its charges to complete the request.
  • When the PIO doesn’t understand what you want, go to their supervisor, a tech person or general counsel.
  • No agency works in a vacuum. If stonewalled, another agency may have the same information.
  • Stories, about denied requests for information taxpayers fund to maintain, are sometimes the great motivator.
  • Start with a blank form the agency uses and ask for the data.
  • Ask for an agency log of open record requests over a certain period of time.