TSU Office of General Counsel
Rights/Reponsibilities of Requestors
Reponsibilities of Governmental Bodies
Cost of Records
Request Public Information from Texas Southern University
Failure to Release Public Information
Texas Southern University's Open Records Policy
Texas Southern University is a governmental body subject to Texas Government Code, Chapter 552, (the Texas Public Information Act), which gives the public a right of access to information collected, assembled, maintained, owned or controlled by a governmental body in connection with the transaction of official business (public information). The Texas Public Information Act does not require that a governmental body disclose information that has not yet been recorded. Therefore, governmental bodies are not mandated to create or make a record that did not exist at the time of the request. Certain exceptions may apply to the disclosure of the information. Governmental bodies shall promptly release requested information that is not confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision, or information for which an exception to disclosure has not been sought. "Promptly" means a reasonable amount of time which may vary depending on the the facts of the case and the volume of information, although most records are provided within ten business days. An officer for public information and the officer’s agent may not ask why you want the information.
You have the right/responsibility to:
- Prompt access to information that is not confidential or otherwise protected;
- A written statement of estimated charges in advance of work being started and an opportunity to modify the request in response to the itemized statement, when the cost of the documents will exceed $40;
- Choose whether to inspect the requested information (most often at no charge), receive copies of the information or both;
- A waiver or reduction of charges if the governmental body determines that access to the information primarily benefits the general public;
- Receive treatment equal to all other requestors;
- Submit a written request by mail, fax, email or in person (as outlined below) according to the governmental body's reasonable procedure;
- Include your name and mailing address (so we can send you a response); your phone number (so we can contact you to clarify, if necessary); and enough description and detail about the information requested to enable the governmental body to accurately identify and locate the information requested;
- Cooperate with the governmental body's reasonable efforts to clarify the type or amount of information requested;
- Respond promptly in writing to written communications from the governmental body;
- Make timely payment of all valid charges;
- Keep all appointments for inspection of records or for pick-up of copies;
- Receive a copy of the communication from the governmental body asking the Texas Attorney General's Office for a ruling on whether information can be withheld under one of the accepted exceptions;
- Lodge a complaint with the Texas Attorney General's Office regarding any improper charges. Complaints of other alleged violations may be filed with the county or district attorney, as appropriate, or with the Texas Attorney General's Office.
All governmental bodies responding to information requests have the responsibility to:
- Treat all requestors equally, provide requested information promptly and follow Texas Attorney General rules on charges;
- Establish reasonable procedures for inspecting or copying information and request/receive clarification on vague requests;
- Be informed about open records laws and educate employees on the requirements of those laws;
- Inform requestors of cost estimates and any changes in the estimates and confirm in writing that the requestor accepts the charges or has amended the request before finalizing the request;
- Cooperate with the requestor to schedule reasonable times for inspecting or copying information;
- Request a ruling from the Texas Attorney General's Office regarding any information the governmental body wishes to withhold, and send a copy of the request for ruling, or a redacted copy as appropriate, to the requestor (the Texas Attorney General’s Office typically issues a decision within 45 days of the request);
- Make a good faith attempt to inform third parties when their proprietary information is being requested from the governmental body;
- Receive timely payment of all copy or other charges;
- Request a bond, prepayment or deposit if estimated costs exceed $100;
- Respond in writing to all written communications from the Attorney General's Office regarding complaints about violations of the Act;
- Comply with any Texas Attorney General ruling on whether an exception applies or file suit as appropriate.
There is no charge for obtaining fewer than ten pages of information and generally there is no charge for inspecting information. You must respond to any written estimate of charges within ten days of the date the governmental body sent it or the request is considered automatically withdrawn.
If estimated costs exceed $100.00 (or $50.00 if a governmental body has fewer than 16 full time employees) the governmental body may require a bond, prepayment or deposit. You may ask the governmental body to determine whether providing the information primarily benefits the general public, resulting in a waiver or reduction of charges.
Make a timely payment for all mutually agreed charges. A governmental body can demand payment of overdue balances exceeding $100.00, or obtain a security deposit, before processing additional requests. The governmental body must fully document the existence and amount of unpaid amounts before requiring a deposit or bund.
Office of General Counsel
Texas Southern University
By mail: 3100 Cleburne, Houston, Texas 77004
By fax: (713)313-1906
In person: Hannah Hall, Suite 310
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A sample Open Records Request Form can be found at: http://www.tsu.edu/About/Administration/forms/general_counsel/Open%20Records%20Request%20Form.pdf
You may also contact the Office of the Attorney General Open Records Hotline at (512) 478-6736 or toll free at (877) 673-6839
For complaints regarding overcharges, contact the Cost Rules Administrator of the Open Records Division at Office of the Attorney General, P.O. Box 12548, Austin, Texas 78711-2548, Phone 512-475-2497 or toll free 888-672-6787
For more information on the Public Information Act, see the Texas Attorney General's website at https://www.oag.state.tx.us/open/index.shtml