Sunshine Week public records request campaign

Carolina Public Press, in cooperation with Code for Asheville, is launching a public records request initiative empowering citizens to get and share information from local governments. In the spirit of Sunshine Week — which believes open government is good government — CPP and OpenWNC are providing the tools and resources needed to make a public records request and to share the information gathered from that request with the larger community.

Getting involved is easy. Simply copy the template of a public records request below, enter information relevant to your request and send it on to the government entity or individual that is the custodian of that info. That’s it. Then, to post the information received from your request, follow this short tutorial. That’s it.

Unfettered access to public records promotes transparency and accountability at all levels of government. That’s undoubtably a good thing. Ensuring that access continues relies on making reasonable requests. Be specific and be serious. And good luck!

North Carolina public records request template

[Your name]
[Title and organization — if necessary]
[Street address]
[City, State, ZIP]
[Phone]

[Date]

[Name of Custodian of Records]
[Title]
[Company Name]
[Street Address]
[City, ST ZIP Code]

RECORDS REQUEST: [add brief description here]

Dear [Custodian of Records]:

Pursuant to the state open records act, I request access to and copies of any and all records of [Describe the records or information sought with enough detail for the public agency to respond.  Be as specific as your knowledge of the available records will allow. But it is more important to describe the information you are seeking.]

Because [I/we] are acting in the public interest, will use the materials to educate the public, [I/we] request a fee waiver for any and all materials falling within this records request. If a fee waiver is not granted, [I/we] request to be informed if the costs exceed $___.  A digital copy of the information is acceptable. This information is not being sought for commercial purposes.

If my request is denied in whole or part, I ask that you justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act and how it is relevant to the material requested.

Should none be immediately available, I ask that you file this public record request and consider it standing, if and when such information falls within its purview.

Thank you for your assistance. You may respond to this request by e-mail to [email address]. Please call me at the above phone number if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]
[Your Phone number]