Public Records Request Management Software

Public records request management software is an essential tool for government agencies that need to meet their legal obligations to provide access to public records while also streamlining the process. These tools can help you manage your public record requests with automation and notifications, centralize requests and track compliance with automated reminders and deadlines (including SLAs) while improving overall productivity in your organization.

In this guide, we review the aspects of Public Records Request Management Software, records management software for government, how to get a public records request, and how to request public records in texas.

Public Records Request Management Software

Public records request management software is a great way to manage the process of requesting public records and making it easier to track them. It can also help you meet service level agreements (SLAs) as well as increase transparency.

The eight best public records request management software.

  • FOIA Machine

FOIA Machine is a public records request platform that allows users to submit requests, track their status and search through previously requested documents. The site also offers a handy Request Wizard that helps you navigate the paperwork steps of submitting a request.

  • OpenRecords

OpenRecords allows users to create, track and manage their public records requests online while also providing them with easy access to all their submitted documents and responses from government agencies. This software is great for increasing transparency and accountability in local governments by making it easier for citizens to file requests as well as ensuring all documents are easily accessible online when they need them most (for example during an election).

  • RecordTrac

One of the greatest challenges facing government agencies today is turning around public records requests: RecordTrac makes this process smoother by allowing users submit requests electronically or via fax machine; receive automatic notifications when responses arrive; view any attachments included with those responses; print out copies whenever needed; even attach scanned images directly into electronic files using OCR technology!

1. CitySourced Requests.

  • CitySourced Requests

CitySourced Requests is a public records request management software that allows you to track and manage your public records requests. The platform helps you comply with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Public Records Act (PRA).

2. OpenCounter Records Request.

What you’ll get

This software allows you to manage all public records requests. It has a built-in dashboard that lets you view the status of requests and their responses, as well as create new requests. The dashboard also shows any alerts for overdue or incomplete requests. Additionally, it supports multiple users with customizable profiles and allows them to share data through reports and notifications.

How much does it cost? This software is free to use for both small businesses and large organizations alike (up to 500 users). If your company needs more than 500 users, there are three different tiers available: $149/month for up to 1,000 users; $299/month for up to 2,500 users; and $599/month for more than 3,000 users.

What features does OpenCounter Records Request have?

  • User management system: Manage who can see what type of information in the system with user permissions controls that allow administrators full control over who has access at every level of organization hierarchy (e.g., department managers or individual employees). You can also assign generic roles such as “author” or “reviewer” so that team members don’t need specific permissions when completing tasks within the system; this makes it easy for everyone on your team!
  • Customizable dashboards: Each user can customize their dashboard view based on which modules they want displayed most often so they never miss anything important happening within your organization’s records management process! View metrics pertaining specifically just about monitoring requests received versus completed ones too – plus much more!

3. InnoRecord.

InnoRecord is a web-based, open-source records management system (RMS) that provides a complete suite of solutions for managing public records, including the ability to create and manage requests, track progress, and manage records. InnoRecord features include:

  • A user-friendly interface that allows you to easily manage your requests on any device
  • An intuitive dashboard with statistics about your current workload
  • Built-in email notifications so you are always up-to-date with what’s happening in the office
  • Complete workflow capabilities so you can define roles for each employee

4. Click2Gov Citizen Access and Public Records Request Management Web Portal.

Click2Gov is a cloud-based software that helps governments to manage public records requests and other citizen engagement activities. The software is designed to improve transparency and accountability in government operations.

With Click2Gov, you can:

  • Track public records requests from the time they are submitted until they are closed with a response or abandoned
  • Automatically send out pre-written responses based on the content of your requestor’s message
  • Manage ticket flow by assigning cases to specific users and groups within your organization

5. GovQA Freedom of Information and Sunshine Act Compliance Software.

GovQA is a software solution for public records requests. Public records are documents or data that a government agency has created or received, but are not confidential and must be disclosed under law. A public records request can come in any number of ways: emails, phone calls, letters or even social media posts. GovQA automates the process of responding to public records requests by creating an online portal where you can track all your incoming requests.

GovQA is a cloud-based software solution that automates the process of responding to public records requests. It allows you to receive and manage these requests from anywhere in the world through your browser; there’s no need for additional hardware or software installations on your end!

In addition to managing your incoming requests, GovQA also keeps track of all the responses you give out so that if someone were ever curious about how many times they’ve been denied access due to confidentiality concerns (as required), it would only take one click within GovQA’s web interface before seeing exactly how many times this happened over time.”

6. Cybershift Workforce Attendance Management software for public sector agencies.

Cybershift Workforce Attendance Management software for public sector agencies helps monitor employee attendance and timekeeping, manage attendance and absence management, manage shift scheduling and rostering, manage employee time off requests and payroll. The solution provides a central system to manage all your human resources needs in one place.

The application can be used by the following sectors:

  • Government services
  • Education
  • Healthcare

7. Accela Civic Platform for Government Agencies’ Records Request Management System to Support FOIA/PRA Laws & Requirements, Online Form Creation, and Maintain an Audit Trail of Request Activities from Reception to Resolution at Level of Detail Appropriate by Employing Configurable Rules and Assignment Notifications (from Inbox or Email).

Accela Civic Platform for Government Agencies’ Records Request Management System to Support FOIA/PRA Laws & Requirements, Online Form Creation, and Maintain an Audit Trail of Request Activities from Reception to Resolution at Level of Detail Appropriate by Employing Configurable Rules and Assignment Notifications (from Inbox or Email).

8. Granicus Public Records Request Software Offers a Solution to Help Cities Increase Transparency and Streamline FOIA/PRA Functions with Automated Processes, Centralized Requests, and Tools To Track Compliance with Automated Notifications, Reminders and Deadlines; as well as Maintain a Complete Audit Trail of All Activities on Requests to Help You Manage Resources and Meet Service Level Agreements (SLAs) while Improving Overall Productivity in Your Organization

Granicus Public Records Request Software Offers a Solution to Help Cities Increase Transparency and Streamline FOIA/PRA Functions with Automated Processes, Centralized Requests, and Tools To Track Compliance with Automated Notifications, Reminders and Deadlines; as well as Maintain a Complete Audit Trail of All Activities on Requests to Help You Manage Resources and Meet Service Level Agreements (SLAs) while Improving Overall Productivity in Your Organization

Today’s government officials are facing an increasing amount of pressure to be transparent. While this trend has positive impacts on the way cities operate, it can also lead to lengthy delays when processing information requests. As your City Manager or Chief Clerk, you may have questions about how Granicus Public Records Request Software can help your team streamline your FOIA process or if it would meet the needs of your organization.

records management software for government

The govRecords system digitally stores public information, including land records such as deeds and titles and birth, marriage and death certificates, as well as county eRecording and court case eFilings in a one-stop solution for records management.

Minimize Paper-Based Processes

Streamline existing back-office workflows with digital storage and retrieval of land and vital records utilizing a feature-rich software solution. With fully integrated auto indexing and auto redaction capabilities, records management has never been easier.

Streamline existing back-office workflows with digital storage and retrieval of land and vital records utilizing a feature-rich software solution. With fully integrated auto indexing and auto redaction capabilities, records management has never been easier.

Robust Search, Retrieval and Payment Features

Make it easy for title searchers and citizens to quickly find the records they need with catch-all search functionality that is searchable across all indexed fields. Easily collect payments online for certified or unofficial copies.

Make it easy for title searchers and citizens to quickly find the records they need with catch-all search functionality that is searchable across all indexed fields. Easily collect payments online for certified or unofficial copies.

Customized to Match Unique Office Workflows

Configurable for any workflow, govRecords offers a complete end-to-end recording process and allows each staff member to customize for their individual interface with features like hotkeys, colors and themes.

Configurable for any workflow, govRecords offers a complete end-to-end recording process and allows each staff member to customize for their individual interface with features like hotkeys, colors and themes.

Reduce Lines and Wait Times

Enhance the customer experience with self-service kiosks that enable citizens to search for and request copies of marriage licenses, passports, land records, and more in just a few minutes.

Enhance the customer experience with self-service kiosks that enable citizens to search for and request copies of marriage licenses, passports, land records, and more in just a few minutes.

Automate and Digitize Disclosure Filings

Easily maintain compliance and reduce paper with convenient, easy-to-use online tools for managing the entire conflict of interest process. Securely fill out, file, and amend conflict of interest disclosure documents digitally.

Easily maintain compliance and reduce paper with convenient, easy-to-use online tools for managing the entire conflict of interest process. Securely fill out, file, and amend conflict of interest disclosure documents digitally.

how to get a public records request

Seeing as that the federal Freedom of Information Act was largely the result of efforts by Congressman John Moss of California, it should come as no surprise that the state was one of the first to enact a state-level public records law. It should come as a bit of surprise, however, that the law is a frustrating combination of good ideas with no enforcement.

Agencies are required to “comply” with a 10 day time frame, which puts it among the speediest states – assuming you get a clerk who knows the law and is interested in following it. A lack of any formal appeals process means an agency faces no consequences for a violation, unless you’re willing to sue. Fortunately, California does offer the opportunity to recoup attorney’s fees if the requester succeeds on “any significant issue.”

While that’s fairly straightforward in cases where a agency hasn’t responded in the allotted time frame, the law’s unclear language makes that more difficult when fighting an exemption. Rather than extend towards all records created by an agency, the law stipulates that the records must be “relating to the conduct of the public’s business,” and exempts “purely personal” information that happens to be on a public account. Though an agency must cite their reasoning, a broad “outweighing the public interest” catchall makes it tough to build a convincing case.

Despite these challenges (and due to the lack of any alternative), public records lawsuits are common – in fact, in 2013, citing the “tens of millions” the state was spending on the law annually, in 2013 the legislature added a measure to the budget that would gut the law entirely, turning it into “best practices.” Thanks to a massive outcry by journalists, the measure was defeated.

The Law

Supplemental

“(b) (1) The people have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business, and, therefore, the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and agencies shall be open to public scrutiny.”

The Details

Can you submit a request if you’re not a resident?

Yes. California law currently has no provision dictating a residency requirement.

To whom does this apply?

Executive?
Judicial?
Legislative?

Is there a designated records custodian?

Records requests are expected to go to the body that holds the records.

“(a) Public records are open to inspection at all times during the office hours of the state or local agency and every person has a right to inspect any public record, except as hereafter provided.” Cal. Gov’t Code § 6252(e)

Who is exempted?

The Public Records Act doesn’t apply to the judicial or legislative branches

“The provisions of this chapter shall not be deemed in any manner to affect the status of judicial records as it existed immediately prior to the effective date of this section, nor to affect the rights of litigants, including parties to administrative proceedings, under the laws of discovery of this state, nor to limit or impair any rights of discovery in a criminal case.” Cal. Gov’t Code § 6260

How can requests be submitted?

In-person?
Verbally?

Yes. However, if an oral request is denied, one should create a written record of the request and determination for one’s self and the agency, so that further opposition may be waged.

Los Angeles Times v. Alameda Corridor Transp. Authority, 88 Cal. App. 4th 1381, 107 Cal. Rptr. 2d 29 (2001)

By mail?
By email?

How long do they have to respond?

In-person inspection is allowed at all times the agency in question is open.

Other requests must receive a response within 10 days.

“(c) Each agency, upon a request for a copy of records, shall, within 10 days from receipt of the request, determine whether the request, in whole or in part, seeks copies of disclosable public records in the possession of the agency and shall promptly notify the person making the request of the determination and the reasons therefor.” Cal. Gov’t Code § 6253(c)

Are there provisions regarding the extension of response times?

“In unusual circumstances, the time limit prescribed in this section may be extended by written notice by the head of the agency or his or her designee to the person making the request, setting forth the reasons for the extension and the date on which a determination is expected to be dispatched. No notice shall specify a date that would result in an extension for more than 14 days. ” Cal. Gov’t Code § 6253(c)

Does the agency have to give you a tracking number or estimated date of completion?

When returning a letter notifying the requester that an extension of time is necessary, the agency must provide the date on which a records are expected to be made available.

“When the agency dispatches the determination, and if the agency determines that the request seeks disclosable public records, the agency shall state the estimated date and time when the records will be made available.” Cal. Gov’t Code § 6253(c)

Can they ask why you ask?

Agencies aren’t allowed to limit disclosure based on the motivation of the request.

“This chapter does not allow limitations on access to a public record based upon the purpose for which the record is being requested, if the record is otherwise subject to disclosure.” Cal. Gov’t Code § 6257.5

What enforcement?

“Any person may institute proceedings for injunctive or declarative relief or writ of mandate in any court of competent jurisdiction to enforce his or her right to inspect or to receive a copy of any public record or class of public records under this chapter. The times for responsive pleadings and for hearings in these proceedings shall be set by the judge of the court with the object of securing a decision as to these matters at the earliest possible time.” Cal. Gov’t Code § 6258

Fees?

Fees may cover “direct costs of duplication.”

“(b) Except with respect to public records exempt from disclosure by express provisions of law, each state or local agency, upon a request for a copy of records that reasonably describes an identifiable record or records, shall make the records promptly available to any person upon payment of fees covering direct costs of duplication, or a statutory fee if applicable. Upon request, an exact copy shall be provided unless impracticable to do so.” Cal. Gov’t Code § 6253(b)

Are there fee waivers for media requests or those made in the public interest?

There are no provisions regarding fee waivers, though agencies are left the discretion to facilitate greater ease of access.

“(e) Except as otherwise prohibited by law, a state or local agency may adopt requirements for itself that allow for faster, more efficient, or greater access to records than prescribed by the minimum standards set forth in this chapter.” [ Cal. Gov’t Code § 6253(3)

Attorney’s fees – Can you win them?

“(d) The court shall award court costs and reasonable attorney fees to the plaintiff should the plaintiff prevail in litigation filed pursuant to this section. The costs and fees shall be paid by the public agency of which the public official is a member or employee and shall not become a personal liability of the public official. If the court finds that the plaintiff’s case is clearly frivolous, it shall award court costs and reasonable attorney fees to the public agency.” [Cal. Gov’t Code § 6259(d)

Exemptions and Appeals

What exemptions exist?

Most exemptions are specific, save for a general provision of the law allowing for situations in which it is in the public interest to not disclose the record.

“The agency shall justify withholding any record by demonstrating that the record in question is exempt under express provisions of this chapter or that on the facts of the particular case the public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record.” [Cal. Gov’t Code § 6255(a)


how to request public records in texas

Here, learn about the Texas Public Information Act. This law gives you the right to inspect or copy government records. It applies to all Texas governmental bodies, and covers information collected, assembled, produced, or maintained in connection with transacting public business. Private businesses and individuals are not covered under the Act. The law also details when a governmental body can withhold government records from the public.

What is the Texas Public Information Act?

The Public Information Act is a law that gives individuals access to inspect or copy government records. The law also details the specific instances when a governmental body can withhold government records from the public. Texas Government Code Chapter 552.

Any individual, not just Texas citizens, can make requests for public information through the Act.

The Act requires a governmental body to respond and release the information requested by an individual. If the governmental body determines the information requested may not have to be released under the Act, then both the request and information at issue must be reviewed by the Open Records Division (ORD). The ORD will then decide whether the governmental body can withhold the requested information or must release the information to the requestor.

What governmental bodies are covered under the PIA?

The Public Information Act applies to all Texas governmental bodies created by Texas’ executive or legislative branches. This includes all boards, commissions, and committees. Texas Government Code 552.003.

The Act may also apply to a governmental body that is supported by or that spends public funds. Private organizations that keep records for governmental bodies also are covered.

Private businesses and individuals are not covered under the Act. This is true even if they provide services or supply goods through a government contract.

What types of “records” are public information under the PIA?

Public information refers to information collected, assembled, produced, or maintained in connection with transacting public business. It may be on paper, film, media, or electronic communications such as emails, internet postings, text messages, or instant messages. Texas Government Code 552.002 lists examples of public information.

What information is not covered under the Public Information Act?

The following list includes the most common records that are not covered under the Act. These records are often discussed as part of family law cases. Speak to a family law attorney if you need access to these records for your case.

A governmental body does not have to respond to a PIA request from an incarcerated individual or an agent of that individual unless the request is from the incarcerated person’s lawyer. Texas Government Code 552.028.

What is “confidential” information?

Some public information is confidential by law. Confidential information is protected from public disclosure to protect a person’s privacy interests. If information is confidential by statute, a governmental body generally cannot release the information under the PIA.

Governmental bodies also maintain information that is not confidential by law. A governmental body has the option to withhold non-confidential information in certain circumstances.

A governmental body must withhold confidential information from public disclosure. On the other hand, a governmental body has the choice (or, discretion) to withhold other requested, non-confidential information.

These are common types of information considered confidential by law:

The governmental body must seek a ruling from the OAG unless a previous determination has been made allowing the information to be withheld. If a governmental body has previously released information voluntarily, that is not confidential by law. The governmental body cannot claim a discretionary exception to withhold the previously released information.

A person or a person’s authorized representative has a special right of access, beyond the right of the general public, to information held by a governmental body that relates to the person. Texas Government Code 552.023.

Do I have to say why I want access to the requested records?

No. The governmental body and any agent (or employee) of the governmental body may not ask why you want the records.

Will I be charged for my public information request?

A governmental body can charge for copies of the information. The fee must be reasonable. The fee also cannot be used to discourage someone from asking for information. A governmental entity can also waive copying charges. An option to avoid charges is to ask to view the records in person at the governmental body’s physical location.

If your charge for the records is more than $40, then you should also receive an itemized bill.

What are my rights as a requestor?

As part of your PIA request, you have the right to:

When will I receive my requested documents?

The law says the governmental body must “promptly” produce the public information requested. “Promptly” means that the governmental body may take a reasonable amount of time to produce the information and may not delay. Texas Government Code 552.221.

The amount of time considered reasonable will depend on the facts of your situation. For example, if you are only requesting a few documents, then a reasonable time may be shorter than if the request is for hundreds or thousands of pages of records.

If a governmental body will take longer than ten business days to produce the requested information, the governmental body must notify you when the information will be released. If the governmental body withholds any of the requested information, then in most cases, the governmental body must request a ruling from the OAG.

My request was denied and I believe it was a violation of the Act. What can I do?

If a governmental body fails to respond to your request for information or requests an OAG ruling within ten business days, you may file an informal written complaint with the Open Records Division of the OAG.

Complaints can also be filed against governmental bodies that fail to comply with the OAG’s ruling. Additionally, complaints may be filed against governmental bodies if you believe you are being overcharged for a copy or inspection of public information. You may also file a formal complaint with your district or county attorney.

How might the Act apply to my family law case?

The Act could be helpful in your family law case for many reasons.

Most court documents and orders in a family law case are considered public records. This means you could use the PIA to request a case file and get copies of your court documents and orders.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) also must respond to PIA requests. You can get a copy of your existing CPS records this way. The Act does not require DFPS to create new information, do legal research, or answer questions. If you have a CPS issue, you can speak with a member of the Family Helpline (TLSC) or call 844-888-6565.

Many state law enforcement agencies are subject to the PIA. This means you could make a request for criminal records if you need to use them as evidence in your case. This may be important if your case involves family violence.

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