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The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) are similar but distinct laws that provide access to government information. Both laws require government entities to disclose information in response to a request but differ when it comes to which government entities are subject to each law's specific requirements. The table below provides clarification on the distinctions between the two laws.

The Data Practices Act applies to Minnesota government entities while FOIA applies to federal agencies. Minnesota government entities are not subject to FOIA requests. You can find more information about how to submit a data request under the Data Practices Act on our "Requesting Data" webpage.

Minnesota Government Data Practices Act Freedom of Information Act
  • Applies to Minnesota government entities, including state agencies, statewide systems, and political subdivisions (counties, cities, school districts)
  • Addresses "government data" as specific data elements rather than entire documents or records
  • Requires individuals to submit a request to the government entity's responsible authority or designee who maintains data
  • Presumes government data are public, but a government entity may only withhold access if the data are specifically classified as "not public" under the Data Practices Act, state statute, federal law, or temporary classification
  • Allows individuals to inspect government data for free, but an entity may charge for costs related to search and retrieval as well as materials when providing copies (note: entities cannot charge for time spent redacting data)
  • Does not permit requesters to ask for a waiver of copy costs when data request is in the "public interest," but entities are not obligated to charge copy costs under the law
  • Applies to U.S. federal agencies, including more than 100 different agencies
  • Addresses "agency records," which are documents created or obtained by federal agencies or under control of a federal government agency
  • Requires individuals to submit a records request to the specific federal agency's FOIA Office
  • Allows an agency to withhold access to records if it determines the records fall within one of nine established exemptions within FOIA designed to avoid specific harms, but federal guidelines direct agencies to apply a presumption of openness
  • Allows agencies to charge fees related to searching for, duplicating, and reviewing records, but there is usually no charge for first two hours of search time and first 100 pages of duplication for most requesters
  • Permits requesters to ask for a waiver of fees if disclosure of the records "is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government."
Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 13 5 U.S.C § 552
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