Public Record Request Complexity is on the Rise

You’re not imagining it, the complexity of public record requests continues to rise, making your job of staying compliant even more difficult.

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Complexity of fulfilling Public Records Requests at highest level since 2018

The complexity of fulfilling public records requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is at its highest level since 2018, according to GovQA’s 2021 second quarter Peers in Public Records Index (PiPRIndex). Overall complexity is up 153% since 2018, due in part to an increase in file sizes and request volumes. The PiPRIndex is the only index quantifying FOIA requests for state and local government.

“Managing requests for public records is getting harder as agencies deal with a flood of increasingly complex requests,” said Jennifer Snyder, chief evangelist for GovQA. “Some state and local government agencies are getting more requests for FOIA information in the last three months than they have in the past three years.”

Read More | WFMZ-TV


Dog licenses are public records that towns must release, New Jersey Supreme Court rules

The names and addresses of residents who hold dog licenses are public records that people can request through the state’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA), the New Jersey Supreme Court decided Monday [Sept. 20].

The decision out of Jersey City is another win for Ernest Bozzi, a businessman from Burlington County who uses OPRA to obtain dog owner information to solicit them to buy invisible fence products.

“Owning a dog is, inherently, a public endeavor,” the high court wrote in a 5-2 decision, finding owners had no expectation of privacy in OPRA.

Jersey City denied Bozzi’s OPRA request seeking dog license names and addresses in late 2018 and he filed a civil suit. A trial court and appellate court sided with Bozzi, and lawyers for Jersey City petitioned the case to the Supreme Court.

Read More | News

Veritone law enforcement transparency and trust report finds Americans mostly aligned on policing

Veritone, Inc., creator of aiWARE™, a hyper-expansive Enterprise AI platform, announced [on Sept. 28] the findings of its first-ever, nationwide Transparency and Trust Report focused on the relationship between law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and the communities they serve as well as measuring broader public opinion on policing in the United States.

A key takeaway from the report, produced in partnership with research firm Lucid surveying 3,000 U.S. citizens, is the central role technology plays in both providing transparency and improving operational efficiency. A turbulent year has increased interest from the public around law enforcement operations and accountability measures. The Transparency and Trust Report provides insights on strategies and opportunities to improve transparency into policing and to improve communications and community operations

Read More | Veritone


Alabama Supreme Court Ruling gives police departments power to release body camera footage or not

Cameras can capture moments words can’t always describe. They can also be an independent verification of multiple points of view especially when police interact with the community.

However, a ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court will make seeing what those cameras capture harder for the taxpayer and members of the media.

The ruling came after a lawsuit between a Mobile media outlet and the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office, stemming from a 2017 Deputy-involved shooting.

The sheriff’s office refused to release body camera footage showing what led up to the killing of a driver who was stopped on a highway after what was called an altercation with a deputy.

Now, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled in favor of the sheriff’s office.

Many fear now police departments will be able to pick and choose what evidence to release to the public if someone files an open records request.

“Departments are going to be able to hide behind this ruling and use it as a way to keep the records instead of releasing them,” Claudia Mesnil, a liaison for the Citizens Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform said.

Read More | WAFF News


Request Volume – PiPRIndex marker of public records complexity

Backlogs. New public record types. Heightened transparency demands. State and local governments are feeling these pain points as FOIA request volumes continue to increase. Jurisdictions are overloaded with public records requests of all kinds and can find it challenging to meet the growing demand. At the federal level, the Justice Department reported a record number of FOIA requests in 2018 and that number has only continued to trend upward. According to GovQA’s Peers in Public Records (PiPR) Index, request volumes increased by 45% in 2020.

Read More | GovQA

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The Peers in Public Records Newsletter (formerly FOIA News) is a bi-monthly e-newsletter brought to you by GovQA. It is a collection of the latest trends in public record requests and government transparency initiatives, shared stories, informative case studies, and actionable knowledge that will help you calm the chaos and keep your organization compliant. Send your comments to

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