PRM files public record requests with government agencies at the state and federal level, and publishes the results in an online archive.
Our requests demonstrate a broad focus, encompassing records on law enforcement, privacy, health care, national security, and environmental regulation. We frequently highlight issues that affect the well-being and individual rights of citizens, as well as the operations, financial health, legal obligations, and societal impact of large public and private institutions.
PRM’s document archive is organized into sub-categories based upon the originating source of the documents. The documents that we hold were largely produced by government entities, although PRM maintains some record collections produced by private individuals, such as Iran-Contra whistleblower Gene Wheaton.
Our government records are first organized by jurisdiction (federal versus state), and are then grouped according to whether we received records through an FOI records request, or otherwise. Government documents that were not received through one of our records requests have been posted on our site to serve as on-line references. In most cases, a PRM-authored article links to one of these documents.
PRM pursues all of its record requests through to an appropriate resolution. In certain cases, achieving resolution can take several years. In the interest of educating the public about FOI processes, we chronicle our correspondence with government entities on our site. When RPM engages in lengthy correspondence with a government agency, we split our records into separate “agency correspondence” and “documents” menus for easier reference.
Some of the documents received by PRM contain redactions made by the government entities that provided the records. Sometimes these redactions are made in concert with state or federal law, but in other cases the redactions are not legally permissible. In such instances, PRM challenges the redactions through administrative or judicial channels.
In some narrow cases, PRM redacts information from documents that we receive before those documents are posted on-line. So far, we have limited these kinds of redactions to:
- Contact information pertaining to individuals
- Graphic visual content, such as violent crime scene photographs
PRM makes a distinction between acquiring such information through public record requests, and posting the information on the internet. While we often fight to obtain access to records that contain such information, we choose to selectively withhold that data from the permanent repository of the world wide web. In certain instances, long-term public exposure has caused legislative bodies to withdraw such data from the coverage of public record laws. As FOI practitioners, we feel an obligation to be judicious with our on-line posts in order to ensure that FOI laws are not adversely affected, and that maximum public access to government information is maintained.
In regard to any information that we have redacted from posted documents, PRM encourages researchers, journalists, and others to contact us directly to review the underlying public data.