Sunshine Advisory Bulletin
A Bulletin on Iowa Open Meetings and Public Records Laws
By Attorney General Tom Miller -- January 2002
Public Records Contact Persons: Helping Iowans with access to public records
When you last visited a government office, did the office have a public records contact -- a person (or persons) who is responsible for receiving and responding to public records requests?
Public records contacts are required by law. All government bodies in Iowa are required to (1) delegate to particular officials or employees the responsibility for implementing Iowa's Public Record laws, and (2) publicly announce to whom requests for public records should be directed.
Let's face it. It is not possible for every employee to be familiar with every public record maintained by a public office, especially in today's complex world of large, multi-divisional government offices, electronic records, and confidential record requirements that can be confusing.
Public records contacts make sense. Placing the responsibility of managing public records requests in the hands of one or more designated public records contacts. . .
Facilitates prompt and lawful response to public records requests
Provides a point person in a public office to whom other employees can turn
Assures consistent responses and preserves resources
Enables certain employees to develop expertise, which they can use to
design strategies for organizing public records for optimal access
Simplifies for the public the process of seeking public records
Better protects the integrity of records which must be keep confidential
Public records contacts provide a golden opportunity for successfully managing public records requests - it's not just the law, it's good common sense.
Sunshine Advisories are designed to give information on Iowa's public records and open meetings laws - our "Sunshine Laws." Local officials should obtain legal advice from their counsel, such as the city or county attorney.
Citizens who have inquiries or complaints may call the Iowa Citizens' Aide/Ombudsman Office - toll-free at 888-IA-OMBUD (888-426-6283.)
Prepared by the Iowa Attorney General's Office, Hoover Building, Des Moines, Iowa 50319.
On the Web: www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.org. Sunshine Advisories are a general resource for government officials and citizens.
Local officials should obtain legal advice from their legal counsel, such as the city or county attorney.