Oklahoma Open Records Act
The Oklahoma Open Records Act is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of governmental bodies in Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma Open Meetings Act legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted.
To learn more about how to make a public records request in this state, please see Oklahoma FOIA procedures.
Relevant legal cases
Here is a list of relevant lawsuits in Oklahoma (cases are listed alphabetically; to order them by year, please click the icon to the right of the "year" heading).
|City of Lawton v. Moore||1993|
|International Association of Firefighters, Local No. 2479 v. Thorpe||1981|
|Oklahoma City News Broadcasters Association Inc. v. Nigh||1984|
|Oklahoma Pub. Co. v. City of Moore||1984|
|Sanders v. Benton||1978|
|State of Oklahoma v. Migliaccio||1996|
|Tulsa Tribune Co. v. Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission||1986|
- House Representative John Carey (D-Durant) proposed House Bill 1049, which sought "to clarify that police should make incident reports available to the public, even if there are no arrests." Executive vice president of the Oklahoma Press Association Mark Thomas was in favor of the bill since "the way some local police jurisdictions have interpreted the law, no incident reports are required unless someone is taken into custody." He said in some circumstances, that essentially permits “secret police actions” with no public accounting, and made it clear that incident reports are required could solve the problem. HB1049 passed the House, and moved to the Senate for further debate.
- The Oklahoma House of Representatives Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee was considering a bill that would allow the chief medical examiner to withhold the public release of autopsy reports at the request of a district attorney or law enforcement agency if the records may impede an ongoing criminal investigation.
Oklahoma's transparency report card
A 2007 study, Graded state responsiveness to FOI requests, conducted by BGA and the NFOIC, gave Oklahoma 41 points out of a possible 100, a letter grade of "F" and a ranking of 38 out of the 50 states.
Features of the law
- Compare States: Sunshine variations
- Click on the heading to compare your state's law to other state's transparency laws.
Declared legal intention
"As the Oklahoma Constitution recognizes and guarantees, all political power is inherent in the people. Thus, it is the public policy of the State of Oklahoma that the people are vested with the inherent right to know and be fully informed about their government. The Oklahoma Open Records Act shall not create, directly or indirectly, any rights of privacy or any remedies for violation of any rights of privacy; nor shall the Oklahoma Open Records Act, except as specifically set forth in the Oklahoma Open Records Act, establish any procedures for protecting any person from release of information contained in public records. The purpose of this act is to ensure and facilitate the public's right of access to and review of government records so they may efficiently and intelligently exercise their inherent political power. The privacy interests of individuals are adequately protected in the specific exceptions to the Oklahoma Open Records Act or in the statutes which authorize, create or require the records. Except where specific state or federal statutes create a confidential privilege, persons who submit information to public bodies have no right to keep this information from public access nor reasonable expectation that this information will be kept from public access; provided, the person, agency or political subdivision shall at all times bear the burden of establishing such records are protected by such a confidential privilege. Except as may be required by other statutes, public bodies do not need to follow any procedures for providing access to public records except those specifically required by the Oklahoma Open Records Act."
What records are covered?
- See also: Defining public records
Records are defined to include "all documents, including, but not limited to, any book, paper, photograph, microfilm, data files created by or used with computer software, computer tape, disk, and record, sound recording, film recording, video record or other material regardless of physical form or characteristic, created by, received by, under the authority of, or coming into the custody, control or possession of public officials, public bodies, or their representatives in connection with the transaction of public business, the expenditure of public funds or the administering of public property." This specifically includes all records of the transfer of public funds.
Notable exemptions include but are not limited to:
- Personal financial information of individuals applying for licenses
- Attorney client privilege records
- Toll booth records
- All personal records, including home contact information, that would constitute an invasion of privacy
- Law enforcement records, excluding arrest descriptions, crime logs, warrants, conviction information, crime summaries and radio and jail logs
- Records that would create unfair advantage including business plans, especially the marketing research of state hospitals
- Library and museum donors
- Litigation files and investigations of the attorney general and all subsequent district attorneys
- Crop and livestock reports provided by farmers
- Educational records
- Public utilities records
- Office of Juvenile System Oversight
Oklahoma law does require the separation of exempt from non-exempt material and the subsequent release of non-exempt material in records that contain both.
- See also: Deliberative process exemption
What agencies are covered?
- See also: Defining public body
Public agencies include all branches of government and all state and local levels and all organizations that are "supported in whole or in part by public funds or entrusted with the expenditure of public funds or administering or operating public property."
- See also: Legislatures and transparency
The legislature is explicitly exempted from the Oklahoma Open Records Act under Open Records Act, 24A.3.2.
Privatized governmental agencies
The Oklahoma Public Records Act affects all private entities that receive or dispense public funds or perform a public function.
- See also: Universities and open records
The definition of public body presumably includes public universities within the state. However, academic and state research has a broad exemption at Open Records Act 24A.19.
Who may request records?
Must a purpose be stated?
- See also: States requiring a statement of purpose
The law does not require a statement of purpose for records request. However, if the purpose is commercial, intended fees will be charged for document collection.
How can records be used?
- See also: Record use restrictions
There is no restriction on the use of records in Oklahoma.
Time allowed for response
- See also: Request response times by state
Oklahoma law specifies no response times.
Fees for records
- See also: How much do public records cost?
For records made by an individual for non-commercial purposes, fees may only be charged for the cost of duplication of the records. The cost of copying is capped at $0.25 per page for non-certified records and $1.00 for certified records.
- See also: Sunshine laws and search fees
For records requests made with commercial intent or for records that present an abnormally large amount of labor, fees may be charged that cover the cost of labor involved in the search and duplication.
Role of the Attorney General
- See also: Role of the Attorney General
Besides issuing opinions on specific questions raised in regards to the application of the law, there is currently no provision within the state open records law that empowers the State Department of Law to enforce the right of the public to access governmental records.
"It is the public policy of the State of Oklahoma to encourage and facilitate an informed citizenry's understanding of the governmental processes and governmental problems."
- Oklahoma FOIA procedures
- Oklahoma transparency advocates
- Oklahoma transparency legislation
- Private agency, public dollars-Oklahoma
- Oklahoma Open Meetings Act
- ↑ HB1049 history, use the "Basic Search Form" to find HB1049 and click on "Introduced" for the bill's text
- ↑ Oklahoma Press Association official wary of attempts to tweak state's Open Records Act, Enid News, January 25, 2009
- ↑ Enid News, New bill would ensure the public's right to know, February 27, 2009
- ↑ KSWO-TV, "Committee postpones open records bill", Feb 4, 2009
- ↑ 2008 BGA-Alper Integrity Index
- ↑ States Failing FOI Responsiveness, National Freedom of Information Coalition, October 2007
- ↑ Freedom of Information in the USA, 2002
- ↑ Oklahoma Statutes 51.1.24A.2
- ↑ Open Records Act, 24A.3.1
- ↑ Open Records Act 24A.4
- ↑ Open Records Act 24A.3.1
- ↑ Open Records Act 24A.7
- ↑ Open Records Act 24A.8
- ↑ Open Records Act 24A.10 and Open Records Act 24A.10a
- ↑ Open Records Act 24A.11
- ↑ Open Records Act 24A.12
- ↑ Open Records Act 24A.15
- ↑ Open Records Act 24A.16
- ↑ Open Records Act 24A.19
- ↑ Open Records Act 24A.22
- ↑ Open Records Act 24A.24
- ↑ Open Records Act 24A.5.2
- ↑ Open record ruling protects Legislature The Oklahoman, July 25, 2008
- ↑ Open Records Act, 24A.3.2
- ↑ Open Records Act, 24A.2
- ↑ Open Records Act, 24A.5
- ↑ Open Records Act, 24A.5
- ↑ Open Records Act, 24A.5
- ↑ Oklahoma Statutes Section 302 - Public Policy
State of Oklahoma
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