RECORDS REQUEST

How to ask for public information

Information about your government belongs to you. That’s an essential element of our democracy and a right that’s protected by our federal Constitution and by Georgia open records and open meetings laws. Want to know more about how your government operates? Here’s what to do.

  1. Just ask. By law, most public information is available to you — the public. If you want to find out what your city pays for garbage collection, how much local businesses contribute to your county’s tax coffers or whether elected officials emailed each other about a controversial issue before voting on it, call the government agency’s office and ask for the records.
  2. Ask again, citing Georgia’s open records and meetings laws. Sometimes, elected officials and government employees aren’t fully aware of state laws that require them to provide public information to the public. Check out our “red book,” A Citizen’s Guide to Open Government, and learn more about how Georgia laws protect your right to know.
  3. File a formal open records request using our form letter that cites relevant state laws. Be specific about exactly the information you want. Overly broad requests can slow down the process and may cause you to pay retrieval and copying fees for information you aren’t seeking. Make sure to keep a record of all your communications with the agency.
  4. Still not getting the public information you want? Let the Georgia First Amendment Foundation know. Our mission is to protect and expand citizens’ access to public meetings, proceedings and records. We can help. Fill out the request-for-help form at gfaf.org on the right side of the page, and we’ll be in touch.