Today I am beginning a series of posts about some lessons learned regarding the open records request process. These are best practices and tips accumulated over the course of submitting hundreds of requests. Some of these best practices will be specific to Kentucky while others are just general ideas that can apply to just about any state or even federal agency.
TIP #1 – Know and cite the law in your request!
This seems obvious but honestly, it is one of the most important aspects of the request for the following reasons…
- Citing the specific law that gives you access to the records will almost assuredly make sure your request is taken seriously. Whoever receives the request will see that and know that you have an understanding of what it is you are doing.
- Open records laws are often very vague and it is good to know what loopholes are available for agencies to dodge your request. For example, the Kentucky law states that if the request places and “unreasonable burden” on the agency, the agency is not required to fulfill your request. “Unreasonable burden” is not defined and thus creates a vague, gaping loophole in the request process.
- Citing the exact statute helps with another tip that will be featured soon: be specific.
“Pursuant to the state open records law section KRS 61.870 to 61.884 and 61.991, I write to request access to and an electronic copy of…“
More tips and best practices to come!