Public Information Act Requests
The PIA requires each governmental unit that maintains public records to identify a representative who a member of the public should contact to request a public record. In order to inspect or obtain copies of a public record, you must submit a written request to the custodian.
Public RecordsA public record is an original or copy of any documentary material in any form created or received by the department in connection with the transaction of public business. This includes:
- Computerized records
- Written materials
Submitting a MPIA RequestThe following are the Custodian of Records for the departments and agencies of Prince George’s County Government. If you are not
Other Public Agencies
- Judicial Branch (Courts)
- Memorial Library System
- Public Schools - Office of General Counsel
- Soil Conservation - District
- Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC)
- Attorney/client advice and attorney work product
- Confidential commercial
- Financial information
- Medical records
- Personnel records
- Trade secrets
There are certain records that may fall within one of the exemptions in state law that allows the agency to withhold documents and redact information from documents.
Other records may be withheld. Examples include, but are not limited to, investigatory records and inter- and intra-agency memoranda and letters. If you are denied access to any records, you will be notified as to the specific statutory provisions for each exemption and for challenging the denial procedures.
Access to public records does not include access to information or documents that does not exist. The agency is not required to create a document in order to respond to a request. Additionally, pursuant to retention guidelines and schedules, if the document no longer exists/has been destroyed, the requestor will be notified.
The custodian may charge reasonable fees for the search and preparation of records for inspection and copying. Search fees are the costs to an agency for locating requested records. Usually, this involves the costs of an employee’s time spent in locating the requested records. preparation fees are the costs to an agency to prepare a record for inspection or copying, including the time needed to assess whether any provision of law permits or requires material to be withheld. The first two hours of search time is free, however, any additional time is subject to fees.
Search includes all time spent looking, both manually and electronically, for material that is responsive to a request. Search also includes a line-by-line or page-by-page identification (if necessary) of material in the record to determine if it or portions thereof are responsive to the request. Time spent reviewing documents in order to determine whether to apply a statutory exemption is not search time but review time.
Duplication refers to the process of making a copy of a document in response to a MPIA request. Such copies can take the form of paper copy, audiovisual, or machine-readable documentation (e.g., magnetic tape or disc) among others. Agencies usually provide copies in the same format as kept within the department unless otherwise specified by the requester or by the agency.
Review refers to the process of examining documents located in response to a MPIA request to determine whether one or more of the statutory exemptions permit withholding. It also includes the processing of documents for disclosure, such as excising them for release. Review does not include time spent resolving general legal or policy issues regarding the application of exemptions.