Underlying all public record requests is the FOI legal regime – the tapestry of state and federal laws that makes transparency possible.
PRM works to encourage compliance with FOI laws by following through with each of our requests to its full, reasonable conclusion. We use a variety of compliance tools within the body of FOI laws – from negotiation, to administrative appeal procedures within agencies, to litigation in court – to ensure that government institutions remain open and accountable to the public.
Our first step with any request is to work with a government agency to pursue proper and reasonable compliance with FOI laws. This often results in acceptable resolutions, including the provision of records to which the public is legally entitled, or (in some cases) reasonable information about why an agency has not produced the requested records.
Our second step, if necessary, is to appeal agency responses through internal “administrative appeal” processes. Administrative appeals allow government agencies to revisit their own decisions regarding records requests, and can be used as a remedy short of court.
Finally, if a successful resolution is not reached through either of these processes – whether due to a disagreement about the application of the law or an unreasonable delay – PRM may file a claim in court. While litigation is, generally speaking, a mechanism of last resort, it is critical that PRM has the ability to employ the enforcement mechanisms provided for in the law when necessary.