Florida FOIA procedures

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Each state varies slightly in the procedures used to gain access to public documents. This article serves to describe specifically the steps used in Florida. To read the history and details of Florida’s sunshine laws, please see Florida Sunshine Law.

How to request public records in Florida

The act requires that records requests be submitted to the records custodian of each department. The custodian is the elected or appointed public official who has the responsibility of handling public records requests. The custodian can also designate individuals to serve as temporary custodians.

Purpose and use

The act does not permit a public agency to ask for the individual's purpose in requesting records and does not restrict the use of records once they have been issued.

Who may request public records?

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

Any person may request public documents in Florida. "It is the policy of this state that all state, county, and municipal records shall be open for personal inspection by any person."[1]

Fees

See also: How much do public records cost?

A government agency may charge fees for records requested under the act:

  • A copying fee may be charged. It should be limited to the actual copying cost, except in cases where the law sets a specific fee. In addition, if there is no specific law regarding fees, the records office may charge up to 15 cents per one-sided copy for duplicated copies of not more than legal size paper. They may charge no more than an additional 5 cents for each two-sided copy and the actual cost of duplication of the public record for all other copies.
  • The "actual cost of duplication" is defined. Section 119.07(1)(a) says that it means "the cost of materials and supplies used to duplicate the record but it does not include the labor costs or overhead costs associated with such duplication."
  • Generally, the fee should not exceed 15 cents for copies, if the copies are 8.5 x 14 inches or less.
  • The Florida Attorney General said in an opinion that "providing access to public records is a statutory duty imposed upon all record custodians and should not be considered a revenue-generating operation."

Special service charges

Special service charges over-and-above copying fees are permitted in some circumstances:

  • According to a 1995 statute, this fee is intended for those times when the records requested "require extensive use of information technology resources or extensive clerical or supervisory assistance by personnel of the agency."
  • "Information technology resources" is defined as "data processing hardware and software and services, supplies, personnel, facility resources, maintenance and training, or other related resources."
  • Charges levied under this 1995 statute are supposed to reflect the actual costs of the agency that does the work.
  • These charges are not supposed to be levied for routine requests.

Response time

See also: Request response times by state

The act does not specify a response time for public records requests.

See also

References