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Administrative Law

Data Practices Complaints

Individuals may file a Data Practices complaint with OAH if a Minnesota government entity refuses access to public government data under the Government Data Practices Act. The Government Data Practices Act provides that all government data are public unless a state or federal law says the data are not public. "Government data" means all recorded information a government entity has, including paper, email, DVDs, photographs, and other forms of data. The Government Data Practices Act also says that government agencies must keep all data in a way that makes it easy for members of the public to access it.   

Data Practices complaints must be accompanied by a $1,000 filing fee. 

Complaint filing

To file a Data Practices Complaint:

  1. Complete the Data Practices Complaint form.
  2. Complete a personal check, cashier's check, or money order for the $1,000 filing fee. Make it payable to Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings. Electronic forms of payment are not accepted.
  3. Mail the form and the payment to PO Box 64620, Saint Paul, MN 55164 OR deliver them via personal delivery to 600 N Robert Street, Saint Paul, MN 55101.

The complaint is considered filed when OAH has received both the form and the $1,000 filing fee.

Complaint process

  1. Data Practices Complaint and the required $1,000 filing fee are filed at OAH.

  2. Once OAH receives the complaint, the government agency must respond within 15 business days.

  3. OAH notifies the subject of the data and the Commissioner of Administration of the complaint. If the Commissioner of Administration already has the same complaint, the complaint is dismissed and the $1,000 filing fee refunded.

  4. The judge must rule on the complaint within 20 business days after the agency responds. Depending on the facts alleged, the judge may dismiss the complaint or schedule a hearing.

  5. If the complaint is dismissed, the person who brought the complaint may request that the Chief Administrative Law Judge reconsider the dismissal decision within five business days.

  6. If the Chief Administrative Law Judge determines that the judge made a mistake, the complaint will be set for hearing within 30 days.

  7. At the hearing, the parties present evidence and testimony to support their position.

  8. The judge issues a decision within ten business days after the record closes.

  9. In the decision, the judge may take any of the following actions: (1) dismiss the complaint; (2) determine that the agency violated the law; (3) impose a fine of up to $300; (4) issue an order requiring the agency to comply with the law; and/or (5) refer the complaint for possible criminal charges.

Minnesota law requires that OAH publicly disseminate its decisions on data practice complaints. Judges' reports and orders regarding data practices complaints may be found in the administrative law decision archive.

Notice to Subjects of Data

Even if a data practices complaint has been filed with the Office of Administrative Hearings which could result in disclosure of data about you, you are not necessarily a party to the proceeding. You can request to become a party by filing a written Motion for Intervention detailing your interest in the dispute and what rights, if any, will be impacted if you are not included in the proceeding. Include the case name and docket number, and serve the Motion upon all other parties.

For more information about this process, call an OAH staff attorney at (651) 361-7837.

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