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Actual Cost

There are certain things that can be included when government calculates actual cost for the purpose of charging for making copies of a data request. 

Things That Can Be Included

  • Cost of media (paper, CD ROMs, DVDs, etc.)
  • Mailing costs
  • Employee time to prepare copies
  • Costs of reproduction that cannot be done by the entity, such as photographs (Advisory Opinions 95-044 and 97-012)
  • Employee time to search for and retrieve data for copying (Advisory Opinion 00-054) (Entities cannot charge search for and retrieval time when the requestor is the data subject)

Things That Cannot Be Included

  • Employee time to separate public from not public data (Advisory Opinion 04-072)
  • Operating expenses of copier, such as electricity, wear and tear, etc. (Advisory Opinions 01-066 and 04-040)
  • Costs not related to copying, such as preparing a fax cover sheet, invoice, etc. (Advisory Opinion 04-055)
  • Returning data to off-site storage (Advisory Opinion 95-044)
  • Sorting, reviewing, or verifying accuracy if not necessary for copying (Advisory Opinion 04-072)
  • Sales tax (Advisory Opinions 94-059 and 99-024)
  • Accounting functions (Advisory Opinion 04-003)
  • Costs related to inspection (Advisory Opinion 04-038)

Note: Employee time must be calculated based on the wages/salary (may include benefits) of the lowest-paid entity employee who could complete the task (Advisory Opinion 04-056)

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