While the Data Practices Office responds to data practices questions on an informal basis - via telephone or email - at any time, the Commissioner of Administration has authority to issue non-binding advisory opinions to government entities or members of the public seeking resolution of disputes relating to the Data Practices Act and/or other laws regulating government data practices. The Commissioner's authority is found in Minnesota Statutes, section 13.072, subdivision 1.
The Commissioner may also issue advisory opinions to public bodies or members of the public on questions relating to a public body’s duties under the Open Meeting Law. The fee for requesting an Open Meeting Law opinion is $200.
If a government entity or public body acts in conformity with an advisory opinion, the entity or body is not liable for damages or attorney's fees or any other penalty if the matter is raised in court.
Advisory opinions are not binding on the government whose data are the subject of the opinion; however, the opinion must be given deference by a court or other tribunal in a proceeding involving the data or meeting.
While we respond to all formal advisory opinion requests in some manner, we can resolve many of the requests outside the formal opinion request process in a more expedient way. In the majority of situations, we are able to provide specific guidance in an email or letter, direct the opinion requester to prior advisory opinions on the requested topic, and/or provide informal resolution services by contacting government entities to resolve disputes.
Data Practices Advisory Opinions
A government entity can request an opinion on any question concerning public access to government data, rights of subjects of data, or classification of data.
An individual can request an opinion regarding that individual’s rights as a subject of government data. Members of the public can request an opinion on the right to access government data.
Open Meeting Law Advisory Opinions
A public body can request an opinion on any question related to the body’s duties under the Open Meeting Law.
A member of the public who disagrees with the manner in which members of a governing body perform their duties under the Open Meeting Law can request an opinion.