Report on Procedures for Charging and Collecting
Fees for Providing Copies of Public Information

 

February 8, 2007

 

This report is released pursuant to Section 552.274(b) of the Texas Government Code, which states:

 

Before the 30th day after the date on which a regular session of the legislature convenes, each state agency shall issue a report that describes that agency's procedures for charging and collecting fees for providing copies of public information.  A state agency may comply with this subsection by posting the report on the agency's open records page or another easily accessible page on the agency's website on the Internet.

 

Section 552.262 of the Texas Government Code requires the Texas Attorney General (OAG) to adopt rules for use by each governmental body in determining charges for providing copies of public information.  These rules are currently located in Title 1, Part 3, Chapter 70 of the Texas Administrative Code.

 

The Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) provides a tremendous amount of public information without charge through its website at www.ethics.state.tx.us.  This information includes campaign finance reports and data, lobby registrations and activities reports, and various other lists that concern the reports that are required to be filed with the TEC.  Although much of the information is made available freely in accordance with statutory requirements or policy, the TEC may require a requestor to provide payment for a copy of public information in accordance with current laws and rules.

 

The TEC’s current policy regarding charges for standard paper copies of records is as follows:

These charges represent the most common charges for copies of public information.  Charges for personnel time and overhead apply only when a request includes copies of more than 50 pages.

 

The TEC’s current policy regarding charges for electronic copies of records is as follows:

Where other nonstandard copies of information are requested, the charges outlined under OAG rule 70.3 apply.

 

Payment is required prior to receiving copies of public information.  The TEC may also request a bond or deposit for payment of anticipated costs to prepare copies of public information if the estimated charges exceed $100 for electronic copies of information or where programming or manipulation of data is required.  If the estimated charges for any copies of public information exceed $40 or will require programming or manipulation of data, the requestor is provided with an itemized statement of the estimated charges as required by either Section 552.231 or 552.2615, as applicable.  The request is considered automatically withdrawn if the requestor does not respond in writing to the itemized statement within 10 business days.

 

A requestor may ask to inspect documents rather than receive copies.  In such a case, there is generally no charge unless the inspection requires redaction of confidential information, programming, manipulation of data, or if other conditions under Section 552.271 or 552.272 apply.

 

Pursuant to Section 552.267, the TEC, under normal circumstances, waives charges that are less than $1.00.  Other governmental bodies are generally not charged for copies of information unless the request requires programming, manipulation of data, or is particularly voluminous.  In accordance with Section 552.264, the TEC will also provide one copy of public information without charge if requested by a member, agency, or committee of the legislature for legislative purposes under Section 552.008.  The TEC may also waive or reduce charges if the executive director determines that a waiver or reduction is in the public interest because providing the copy of the information primarily benefits the general public.  Further, the TEC makes available to the public at no charge a large quantity of information on our website.

 

If you have any questions regarding this report or require additional information, please contact the TEC’s Public Information Coordinator, Ian M. Steusloff, at (512) 463-5800.

 

Last Revision: February 7, 2011
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