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Requesting Data

You have the right to request information from the government. Click here for a sample data request letter.

Step 1: Who do I contact?

  • Contact the government office that holds the information and ask for the name of the “responsible authority” (RA), or individual designated by the RA to handle data requests. You must ask the RA or RA designee for the information.
  • The Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Auditor, and Legislative Auditor are the RA for their offices. 
  • In state agencies, the RA is the commissioner, chief executive officer, or individual appointed by the agency. 
  • In cities or school districts, the RA is the employee appointed by a city council or school board. 
  • In counties, a county board must appoint an employee to be the RA. 
  • A sheriff, county auditor, county attorney is the RA for her/his office. 
  • The RA for a county social services office is the director of that office.

Step 2: How do I ask for information?

Each office has its own policies you must follow. For example:

  • It may require you to make a written request.
  • It may require you to ask someone other than the RA for the information.
  • It may require prepayment for copies.
  • It may require a data subject to provide identification for private information.

Step 3: How should I ask for the information?

The government must respond if you ask to look at or get copies of information. It does not have to respond if you ask questions or ask it to create data. For example:

  • would like to inspect all data about why the county board decided to end the park program. Correct.
  • Why did the county board decide to end the park program? Incorrect.

Step 4: When can I expect a response?

If you are not the data subject, the government must respond within a reasonable amount of time. The government cannot require you to identify yourself or ask why you are requesting the information. If you are the data subject, the government must respond immediately or within ten business days. 

If you do not receive a response to your request, feel free to reach out to the Data Practices Office for assistance. These advisory opinions discuss timeliness in responding to data requests:

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