ATTORNEY GENERAL ANNOUNCES OPEN RECORDS E-FILING SYSTEM
At the 2011 Open Government Conference last December, the attorney general announced the implementation of H.B. 2866, passed during the 2011 legislative session, through his office’s new electronic filing system. According to a press release from his office:
In an effort to streamline and modernize governmental bodies’ submission of ruling requests to the open records division, the office of the attorney general (OAG) has created an electronic filing system. Under the Public Information Act, governmental bodies that wish to withhold information from disclosure to the public must seek a ruling from the OAG’s open records division. The new electronic filing system, which will be available for use in February 2012, will allow governmental bodies to submit their requests electronically through the system. Interested third parties that wish to submit briefing materials supporting or opposing governmental bodies’ ruling requests will also be able to submit their documentation electronically through the electronic filing system.
Effective January 3, 2012, the open records division will no longer accept faxed or emailed submissions from governmental bodies or interested third parties. Governmental bodies who choose not to use the new electronic filing system may still submit their documents to the OAG through First-Class U.S. Mail, common or contract carrier, interagency mail, or hand delivery during normal business hours.
Public officials with questions about requesting an attorney general open records decision and submitting materials for OAG review should contact the OAG’s toll-free open government hotline at 877-OPEN-TEX. More information about the electronic filing system may be found online at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.
There will be a cost of $30 to use the system (a $25 nonrefundable administrative convenience fee, plus an additional $5 fee imposed by Texas.gov). Some consider the new system a step forward, while others see it as yet another example of the legislature pushing down the operational costs of a state agency to local governments. In any case, more information about the system is available at www.oag.state.tx.us/open/efiling.shtml