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Ivey orders state agencies to establish public records pages

Every state agency will be required to have a public records page, and will not be allowed to charge per-page fees on electronic documents.

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Every state agency will be required to have a public records page, including a public record request form, starting April 26.

The latest executive order from Gov. Kay Ivey sets the new standard, as well as multiple other standards that Ivey said will help make the government more transparent.

“From day one, a top priority of mine was to restore our people’s faith in their state government,” Ivey said. “Today, I am still every bit as committed to leading a state government that Alabamians can be proud of – one that is open, honest and transparent. Access to public records is essential to guaranteeing transparency in government, and I am proud to sign this executive order that improves this process as a whole.”

The order also sets standards for response times from agencies.

A “standard request” is a public records request that seeks one or more very clearly identified documents that the agency determines would take less than eight hours of staff time to process. Subject to modest extensions and the receipt of any required payment, the agency will be required to provide a substantive response within 15 business days.

A “time-intensive request” is a public records request the agency determines would take more than eight hours of staff time to process, perhaps because the request itself is vague or overly broad or because substantial efforts will be required to locate documents or redact legally protected information. Agencies will give the requester an option to clarify and narrow the request. Subject to extensions and the receipt of any required payment, the agency will be prepared to provide a substantive response fulfilling or denying the request within 45 business days.

The order also clarifies that no per-page fee be charged on documents provided electronically.

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Instead, agencies can charge $20 an hour, including a standard minimum fee of $20 for time spent locating, retrieving and preparing records. The agencies cannot charge for time spent redacting the records to withhold legally protected information.

Agencies can also charge $0.50 per page for physical copies on standards paper, and can charge for actual costs if the purchaser is made aware of those costs in advance.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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