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By Erin Smith

NC Governor Roy Cooper’s Office has generated draft guidelines for public records requests and those guidelines are now available for review and comment. The draft will be available online now though April 9.

Public records include such items as books, maps, notes, recordings, photographs, computer data and any other items which document the functions of the public body and that are owned by a public body or government agency. The proposed guidelines also note that documents which may contain non-public items can be public records if the non-public items are redacted from the document.

The document suggests agencies charge 0.05 cents per page for making photocopies of requested documents. The proposed guidelines also suggest that it may be useful for agencies to ask to have public records requested submitted in writing for accuracy; however, a written request cannot be required. “There is no requirement that the person making the request cite the Public Records Law or say why they are asking for records,” reads the document.

Agencies are not required by the Public Records Act to create a document where no public records currently exists.

The proposed document is intended to offer guidance to government agencies when releasing public records. To view the proposed guidelines, click here. To submit comments, click here.