Interested in becoming a more engaged citizen in local government or statewide politics? The Texas Public Information Act classifies most information as open to the public, so anyone can request it.
Here is your guide to requesting open records from important state agencies and the most common records requests each entity receives:
Texas Ethics Commission
The Texas Ethics Commission holds records on campaign finance reports for political parties, candidates and lobbyists statewide. General Counsel Ian Steusloff said the majority of requests to his agency involve access to campaign finance reports, personal finance reports and lobby reports. All of these reports are posted online, with data tables available to download. Stuesloff said the agency will work with anyone who needs help searching for further information.
Texas Department of Transportation
TxDOT publishes most of its reports online with information available on crashes, police reports and law enforcement reports. Anyone interesting in requesting information can fill out a form with the specific information they are requesting. Veronica Meyer, a media relations spokesperson with TxDOT, said the agency encourages requesters to be as specific as possible with the information they’re seeking so TxDOT can expedite its record finding process.
Texas Education Agency
The TEA publishes a variety of reports on its website, including information regarding salary and certification of educators and Texas school finance data that tracks each individual campus performance. Additional open records requests can also be made by requesting more specific information.
Texas Department of Public Safety
DPS provides information on criminal history, crime labs, driver’s licenses and handgun licensing. A criminal history database is available online for the public to use, but few other records are made public. Additional requests for information can be made on a large variety of topics. Information accessible via these requests includes accident investigations, audits, DPS employee records, speed detection and vehicle inspection, among other items.
Judicial branch of Texas
The Texas Public Information Act does not apply to any agencies under the Courts or Judicial Branch. The federal Freedom of Information Act also does not apply to those agencies. Consequently, access to court case records are governed by common law, statutory law and court rules. All requests for court case records can be directed to the Clerk of the Court for individual courts. The judge of a particular court also serves as the custodian of the records.
Look here for further tips on requesting open records in Texas.