Application of the Public Information Act
What is the Texas Public Information Act?
The Texas Public Information Act (the Act) was enacted to open up government to the people. The Act is codified in Chapter 552 of the Texas Government Code.
What types of records are covered?
Public records include any information that is collected, assembled, or maintained by or for TSTC. The Act applies to records regardless of their format, whether on paper, tape, microfilm, video, electronic data held in computer memory, and other mediums specified under the law.
Are records that are kept or owned by a consultant to TSTC subject to the Act?
The fact that a private entity may own or retain a record does not prevent the record from being subject to release under the Act. For example, if a consultant maintains or holds records for TSTC, the documents are still considered public information if we own the information or have a right to access it.
Do outside governmental agencies have a special right to access TSTC records?
Generally, outside governmental agencies whose function under state or federal law requires access to certain records have a right of access to such records. The transfer of information to such outside governmental agencies is not considered a release to the public and would not constitute selective disclosure.
What constitutes a Public Information Request?
To whom must a request be directed?
A written request for information should be forwarded to the Coordinator of Records Management for handling.
Texas State Technical College
Attention: Patrick Brady
3801 Campus Drive Waco, Texas 76705
Who can I contact at TSTC if I have general questions about the Texas Public Information Act?
Call Patrick Brady at 254-867-3664.
What is TSTC’s duty to respond to emailed requests for copies of records?
We have a duty to respond to any written requests for records, including those that are made through email. We are not responsible for responding to email sent to any email address other than those for the Coordinator of Records Management cited above.
What is TSTC’s duty to respond to verbal requests for copies of records?
To treat all requesters fairly, we require that all requests for copies of records be made in writing.
How much does it cost to obtain copies of TSTC records?
Charges for copies of public information are set by the Office of the Attorney General.
- If your request is for fewer than 50 pages, the charge will be $.10 per page plus the cost of postage.
- If your request is for more than 50 pages, the charge will be $.10 per page plus personnel costs necessary to compile the documents and postage.
- If your estimated charge is more than $40, we will provide a written itemization of the charges and indicate whether a less costly alternative is available.
- If your estimated charge is more than $100, we require a prepaid deposit or bond before providing the information.
You must respond in writing within 10 days after we send the estimate to let us know whether you will accept the costs or use an alternative. If we do not hear from you within 10 days, your request will be withdrawn.
Administration of Requests for Public Information
How much time does TSTC have to comply with a request for information?
The Act states that all requests must be handled with good faith and must be completed within a reasonable amount of time.
Our response time varies depending on the number of documents requested. In some cases, the records can be produced in less than 10 days. However, requests for a substantial number of documents may take several weeks to produce.
If it takes longer than 10 business days to produce the records, we must certify this in writing to the requester. In the notice, we must indicate a date and time that the information will be made available for inspection or duplication.
Notice to the requester that TSTC needs additional time to produce records.
If we are unable to produce a requested record within 10 business days for inspection or duplication, we must certify this in writing to the requester. We must also set a date and hour within a reasonable time that the information will be available for inspection or for duplication.
Notice to the requester that TSTC needs additional time to produce records that are in active use or in storage.
If we need additional time to produce a record, we must notify the requester. This notice must be given within 10 business days of receiving the request. The notice must set a date and hour within a reasonable time that the information will be available for inspection or duplication.
Notice to the requester of programming or manipulation costs
We must provide a statement that:
- Indicates whether the information is available in the requested form;
- Describes the form in which the information is available;
- Describes any contract or services that would be required to provide the information in the requested form;
- Includes the estimated cost of providing the information in the requested form as determined in accordance with the rules under §552.262; and
- States the anticipated time required to provide the information in the requested form.
This notice must be provided to the requester within 20 days of the receipt of the request.
Request by TSTC for a ruling from the Attorney General
If we plan to withhold certain documents or information, usually we must request an Attorney General’s (AG) ruling. The written request for an AG ruling must be made within 10 business days of the receipt of the request. However, the 10-day deadline is applied during the time that TSTC and the requester are actively clarifying the scope of information requested.
Notice to the requester that Texas State Technical College sought an Attorney General ruling
We must give written notice to the requester if we seek an AG ruling on the request. This notice must be given within 10 business days of receipt of the request for documents.
Notice to a person or entity with a proprietary interest in information of Attorney General ruling request
If a request may result in the release of proprietary information, we must make a good faith attempt to notify the person or entity that has an interest in the request. We must send the written notice within 10 business days of the date the original request was received. This notice must include a copy of the request for information and a statement that the person is entitled to submit a letter, brief, or memorandum to the AG in support of withholding the information. The notice must inform the person that the briefing must state each reason the person has as to why the information should be withheld and the legal rationale supporting such an assertion. Any briefing by a person with proprietary interest must be provided within 10 business days from the date the written notice from us is received.
When is TSTC required to ask for a ruling from the Attorney General?
Some of the information maintained by TSTC may contain information that is not public, such as the following:
- Student information/records
- Medical information/records
- Driver’s license and motor vehicle information
- Attorney-client communications
- Attorney work product
- Documents made confidential by statute
- Documents claimed to be proprietary by a third party.
If you want to review or get copies of the non-public information listed above, we will need to request an Attorney General’s opinion. This non-public information will not be available for review until after the AG decides whether the information is public or not. The AG has about 12 weeks to make this decision.
If part of the information you requested is considered public information, then you will be able to review or get copies of the public information. If public information and non-public information are both included in a single document, the document will be provided to you. However, the information believed to be non-public will be redacted (marked out) while the request for an AG opinion is pending.
What procedures must be followed if TSTC wishes to withhold information?
Within 10 business days of receiving a written request, we must:
- Write the Attorney General asking for a decision and state which exceptions apply to the requested information.
- Provide the requester with a written statement that we wish to withhold the information and that it has asked the Attorney General for a decision.
- Provide the requester with a copy of our correspondence to the AG.
- Make a good faith attempt to notify, in the form prescribed by the AG, any affected third parties of the request.
Within 15 business days of receiving a written request, we must:
- Write the AG and explain how the claimed exceptions apply.
- Provide a copy of the written request to the AG.
- Provide a signed statement to the AG stating the date the request was received by us or provide evidence sufficient to establish the date the request was received.
- Provide copies of the documents requested or a representative sample of the documents to the AG, and the documents must be labeled to show which exceptions apply to which parts of the documents.