Oklahoma Open Records Act

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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

See also: Court cases with an impact on state FOIA and Oklahoma sunshine lawsuits

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).

Lawsuit Year
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

Proposed changes


See also: Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2009.
  • 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."[1] 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.[2] HB1049 passed the House, and moved to the Senate for further debate.[3]
  • 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.[4]

Oklahoma's transparency report card

A 2008 study, BGA - Alper Integrity Index, conducted by the Better Government Association and sponsored by Alper Services, ranked Oklahoma #21 in the nation with an overall percentage of 53.10%.[5]

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.[6]

A 2002 study, Freedom of Information in the USA, conducted by IRE and BGA, ranked Oklahoma's law as the 37th worst in the country, giving it a letter grade of "D."[7]

Features of the law

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Click on the heading to compare your state's law to other state's transparency laws.

Declared legal intention

See also: Declared legal intentions across the U.S.
The declared legal intention of the law states:
"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."[8]

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."[9] This specifically includes all records of the transfer of public funds.[10]


Notable exemptions include but are not limited to:

  • Personal financial information of individuals applying for licenses
  • Attorney client privilege records
  • Toll booth records[11]
  • All personal records, including home contact information, that would constitute an invasion of privacy[12]
  • Law enforcement records, excluding arrest descriptions, crime logs, warrants, conviction information, crime summaries and radio and jail logs[13]
  • Records that would create unfair advantage including business plans, especially the marketing research of state hospitals[14]
  • Library and museum donors[15]
  • Litigation files and investigations of the attorney general and all subsequent district attorneys[16]
  • Crop and livestock reports provided by farmers[17]
  • Educational records[18]
  • Research[19]
  • Public utilities records[20]
  • Office of Juvenile System Oversight[21]

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.[22]

Deliberative process

See also: Deliberative process exemption

Attorney General Drew Edmondson issued an opinion July 24, 2008 saying that, "Written or electronic exchanges between legislators are not subject to the Open Records Act."[23]

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."[24]


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

See also: Private agency, public dollars and Private agency, public dollars-Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Public Records Act affects all private entities that receive or dispense public funds or perform a public function.

Public universities

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?

See also: List of who can make public record requests by state

Anyone may request public records in Oklahoma.[25]

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.[26]

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

Copy costs

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.[27]

Search fees

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.[28]

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.

Open meetings

"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."[29]

See also

External links