Journalists are not the only ones who can request publicly available information. The Texas Public Information Act and Freedom of Information Act allow anyone to request open records from governmental bodies or any other entity that is supported by public money.
Sunshine Week, scheduled for March 12-18 this year, was established to shine light on this public ability. Community Impact Newspaper plans to post online stories that shine light on common public information requests as well as proposed legislation that may strengthen or threaten open records laws.
But average Joes and Janes can make the same requests. In fact, many entities have online portals for submitting such requests, including the Harris County auditor’s office, permitting department and sheriff’s office. Here are a few examples.
- Emails from public officials and employees
- Salary information for public employees
- Site development plans
- Crime data