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.
- 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.
- Ask again, in writing. A letter may help your request get to the right people, for example agency employees who are custodians of the records governmental bodies must keep and provide to the public. Be as specific as possible in your request, and keep the tone polite and professional. See our sample letters for general and electronic data requests and learn more in our Red Book, Sunshine Laws: A Guide to Open Government in Georgia. Keep a record of all your communications with the agency.
- 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. Fill out the request-for-help form, and we’ll be in touch.